Dungeons & Dragons Heroes Review

Dungeons & Dragons Heroes carries the Dungeons & Dragons moniker, but it's not your typical D&D game.  Heroes is a hack and slash action RPG with the balance skewed way towards the action end of the spectrum.  If you've played Dark Alliance, then you'll notice that that game obviously served as an inspiration for Heroes, although Heroes tries to throw in even more action if you can believe that.  Heroes also also lets three of your friends join in on the action, turning the game into a four player monster bashing romp.

A fighter enters a fortress alone.

The game's story opens 150 years before the events in the game, when an evil wizard known as Kaedin opened four portals to different planes of existence and harnessed their energy to forge powerful gems.  With these gems he went on a rampage and began conquering the surrounding lands.  When the Kingdom of Baele found itself next on Kaedin's list, it called forth four of its mightiest heroes to stop him.  The four heroes defeated Kaedin, but with his last breath he cast a spell which killed the four heroes.  Now in the game's present day, some foolish clerics raised Kaedin in an effort to control his power.  Needless to say, they failed miserably and only succeeded in letting Kaedin loose once more and getting themselves killed.  Not to be outdone, the good folks of Baele resurrected the four heroes of old.  Although they are now weak and mere shadows of their former greatness, they accept their new task and once again set forth to defeat Kaedin.

The four heroes in the game's story are the four playable characters in the game: a human fighter, an elf wizard, a dwarf cleric, and a halfling rogue.  These four cover the bases in giving you the "classic" D&D classes and races, but you'll have to use one of these characters in the game instead of creating your own.  Each character's traits are set as well, so there's no opportunity to "roll" your own stats.  If you have your heart set on creating a dwarf fighter or a human paladin and tweaking his stats you're out of luck, but remember that this is an action RPG so just make your choice and have at it.

Heroes' emphasis on combat is evident right from the beginning of the game.  Everything has been streamlined to let you concentrate on hacking through the hordes of enemies that the game throws at you.  The face buttons are all mapped to forms of attack: a melee combo button, a couple of "power move" buttons that unleash a class-specific attack such as firing a bow or casting a spell, and an item button that lets you toss holy water, acid bombs, and the like.  Health and mystical will (mana) potions can be consumed on the fly with a quick press of the black and white buttons, so there is no need to retreat to a safe spot and fumble with your inventory.  Other traditional dungeon pastimes such as operating switches and opening chests are also simple.  Just walk up to a switch and it is thrown or touch a chest to automatically use a key and open it.  If you're playing as the rogue, you'll even pick the lock on the occasional chest automatically. 

The game takes you through a variety of classic D&D environments including dungeons, wilderness, castles, and elemental planes.  This gives you the opportunity to face a Monster Manual's worth of adversaries from mundane spiders and skeletons to nastier beasts such as beholders, golems, naga, and of course dragons.  The higher level monsters have their specialty attacks, but the primary attack mode for most monsters is the head-on charge or a ranged "shoot and scoot" attack.  This takes a lot of the strategy out of the game, as a straight-on attack on your part will get you through most battles - hack and slash, hack and slash.