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Magic & Mayhem: Art of Magic

The Specs

Magic and Mayhem: Art of Magic is the follow-up to Magic and Mayhem. Art of Magic is a game of spellcasting and magical armies, a contest of tactical combat that plays in real-time with a pause-and-issue-orders option. You control a wizard who summons creatures and casts defensive and offensive spells while battling rival wizards doing same. An interesting spell system will have you mixing and matching spell components to devise more than 60 spells, such as a meteor showers, fireballs, mini-tornados. You will also be able to summon 21 different types of creatures, such as knights, skeletons, and dragons. Art of Magic will be mission-based and play out over 30 missions but will also have multiplayer support for LAN and Internet games. Finally, this sequel is moving from 2D to 3D with a new engine.

The Speculation

Tom's Comments: The first Magic & Mayhem was a sleeper from Mythos, the UK fellows who brought us X-COM. It had it's own Gilliam-esque sensibility and a rare flexibility in the way you could mix and match spells. Unfortunately, Mythos has nothing to do with this sequel, which is being created by Charybdis, a development studio with two utterly forgettable titles under its belt (Machines and The Quivering, in case you're wondering). After spending a little time with a very early build of Art of War, I'm cautiously optimistic that Charybdis has managed to capture some of what made the first game so good. However, the 3D engine could needlessly complicate the game, particularly on the indoor levels, and I'm disappointed that Charybdis has chosen to make the single player game completely linear.

Mark's Comments: I talked to Charybdis at E3 and they seemed genuinely excited about working on this sequel and appropriately reverent in their praise for the work of Mythos. I also think the inclusion of the 3D engine is a good thing on balance, though like Tom I have reservations about 3D engines as applied to strategy games. The graphics are improved with the new engine, and being able to rotate and zoom will add some drama to the gameplay. Although I thought the first game bordered on being a bit too frantic at times, even with the ability to pause the action, I just love this concept and I'm looking forward to seeing the final version of Art of Magic. This in some small way is Magic: the Gathering — not in the details, of course, but in the spirit. You shuffle your magic resources to create new types of spells and do battle with a host of summoned creatures. That's just cool, isn't it? Let's hope the AI and the interface are both up to the challenge.


Publisher: Bethesda

Developer: Charybdis

Genre: Strategy

Release Date: Q1 2001


January 3, 2001

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