The Roots: Gates of Chaos «

George Peppard, better know as A-Team’s Hannibal, used to have a saying: “I love it when a plan comes together.” Well, I feel that way, too, and I absolutely hate it when a plan falls apart. Sadly, The Roots is yet another good-on-paper N-Gage plan that falters in execution.

The Roots has all the makings of a hit, though its lack of attention to the little things only makes it hit a brick wall. It’s an isometric action/RPG that uses 3D environments and polygonal character models. While it’s novel to see the N-Gage pull this off, most characters just look like multicolored blobs wielding swords instead of detailed beings of fantasy such as warlocks and paladins. The graphical edge has to go to the cleaner-looking Requiem of Hell, though I admire this game’s use of elevation.

Something’s going on here — with pasta sauce, perhaps?

The Roots‘ action is pure hack-and-slash. Magic skills can be attached to two buttons for easy access, and these are different depending on whom you select at the game’s start. Attacks are unfortunately very clunky, and I never knew when I was connecting with a blow, or even offensive spells. There’s a huge delay between hitting the strike button and seeing it onscreen, too. Since this combat is 3/4 of the entire game experience, that doesn’t bode well for The Roots‘ fun factor.

The hub town is filled with things to see and do. First and foremost is the shop, where you can buy and sell equipment and items — a standard aspect of Diablo-style titles that was missing in Requiem of Hell. There is a hunter’s area where you take missions, but it’s not what you expect. Tasks revolve around collecting trophy parts from down enemies and trading them for items. I like the real time limit on the quests, but carrying around three skeleton warrior claws brings up another problem.

Limited carrying capacity is nothing new, but The Roots is far too strict. My character could only carry 28 things at first — including potions, quest items, and equipment. While you can do the classic Diablo in-town drop of items you don’t immediately need, they disappear if you save the game and reload.

Adding to this annoyance is how stingy the game is with money. All of my funds went to buying health potions, and I barely had enough to keep them stocked up. Resale of items you can’t use/don’t want is cheap, so you can’t make up much ground that way. Speaking of these items, there are way too many pick-ups that require you to be six levels higher than what you are. I just started and I’m getting a level 10-requiring helmet? Where is the tweaking?

Multiplayer picks up the slack a bit, as there’s the option to either play co-op or compete in the town’s gladiator arena. However, the Justin Leeper broken record says, “Get your ass to Mars.” Oh wait, that’s Ahnold’s broken record in Total Recall. My broken record says, “If it’s no fun in single-player, you won’t want to play multiplayer much, either.”

It takes a lot more than some button-mashing and a decent hub village to make a good game. There is next to no polish on any aspect of The Roots — ironic, since the title is developed by a Polish company. Get it — polish, Polish? Anyway, this is another game that I played so you don’t have to. Let’s hope the N-Gage gets a decent Diablo clone; you’d think that’d be easier to come by than a good FPS or fighting game, and the platform already has one each of those. If I was Nokia, I’d get some RoundUp and make sure these roots never grow again.


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