Anyone that has ever played Gauntlet can probably rattle off the game’s four famous characters: the Warrior, the Wizard, the Elf, and the Valkyrie. It has been quite a while since the foursome have appeared in a game, and despite the highly-publicized departure of John Romero, Midway has forged on, and will release Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows on December 12th for the PlayStation 2. The preview build of the game I recently spent some time with was enjoyable and felt like Gauntlet should.
Gauntlet’s story looks to be decent, and it’s unveiled through cut-scenes between levels. The four heroes were betrayed by a now dead emperor, who at one point was unwittingly tricked by his advisors in a plot to steal the foursome's immortality. The emperor’s advisors quickly turned on him, but before he died, he set the four heroes free – begging for their forgiveness before turning them lose to get their revenge on the six evil advisors, who are now causing chaos throughout the land.
At its heart, Seven Sorrows is a good old fashioned hack and slash action game, so there are couple things you can count on. As you’d expect, the warrior is slow and strong, the wizard uses magic, the elf shoots arrows, and the Valkyrie is the “hottie” with a sword. The controls are simple as well; there are two main attacks (square and X), you can block (L1), use projectile weapons (circle), launch enemies into the air (triangle), and dodge/dash with the right analog stick. Combat is pretty basic, but you can learn combos and moves after each level to help mix things up. The controls are responsive, which is a must in a game that’s so reliant on combat.
Of course co-op play is included (this is Gauntlet!), and now you can even play online. I was unable to test the online portion of the game, but if the manual is any indication, it should be pretty easy to hop online and wreak havoc.
The basic goal of every level is to get to the exit. That might sound easy, but when you’ve got to trigger switches, collect keys, and fend off hordes and hordes of enemies spawning from all directions; that’s easier said than done. The game does a nice job of maintaining the classic Gauntlet feel, while still offering the things you’d expect from a modern game. The levels look pretty sharp, there are plenty of special effects, you can level-up, change weapons, add armor, and learn new moves. Old-school fans of the series will be pleased to know that regaining your health is as simple as eating some turkey, cheese, or ham.
Seven Sorrows isn’t going to break any new ground in the hack and slash genre, but that’s okay – it just needs to be fun. You’ll have to wait for our review for a final verdict, but as it stands now, Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows looks like it might be a pleasant way to spend some of your free time over the holidays.
If you’d like to see the game in motion, we’ve got a video clip you can check it out right here.
12/8/2005 Aaron Thomas