Gauntlet: Seven SorrowsTHE GOOD: Online play is finally available! Multiplayer for up to 4 players. Lots of familliar Gauntlet-style gameplay elements.
THE BAD: Subpar sounds and voice acting. Complex controls. Extremely repetitive gameplay. Very short. Saving games and characters is unusually difficult.
SUMMARY: The latest game in the heralded Gauntlet franchise, Seven Sorrows attempts to combine the classic Gauntlet style of gameplay with updated 3D graphics, RPG & action elements, and correct one of the series' biggest flaws-lack of online play. The storyline slightly changes form previous games-this time the 4 heroes have been summoned to undo the seven sorrows that a powerful magician has done in order to make what's wrong right again.
The graphics are surprisingly average. While the cutscnes and movies are well-detailed, everything else looks rather drab and uninspired, really lacking in color and detail with some notable rough edges. The frame rate is generally smooth without noticeable slowdown despite the screen constantly being filled with enemies and projectiles. Sounds are rather disappointing, consisting of a mix of medieval-sounding music and repetitive sound effects. There are limited voices, generally limited to weak grunting and death screams, although the classic announcer gets a facelift, providing those famous quotes like "Red Wizard needs food...badly", but it's not as good as in Legends & Dark Legacy. The narrator's voice that accompanies cutscenes is fairly well done, probably the best voice acting in the game. Controls are much more complex than in previous Gauntlet titles, partly because every button now performs a different type of attack. While fairly responsive overall, the new combo system, which requires a series of button presses to execute more powerful attacks, plus using the control pad and right thumbstick to perform special moves, is rather clunky and difficult to pick up on. Gameplay is generally standard Gauntlet fare, but as you'll see early on the emphasis is more on close-range fighting this time, not the traditional projectile-based combat with close-range as a last resort. This time you can choose the original 4 characters, including the Elf-this will appeal to more of the long-time fans who were disappointed to see the Elf left out of Legends & Dark Legacy, but on the negative side there are no unlockable characters this time. One other big difference is that even on lower skill levels, enemies are unusually aggressive and always seem to pop out of nowhere, even when a generator doesn't appear to be on screen. There are several boss battles to break up the repetitive fighting and exploring but they are way too difficult, especially if you're playing by yourself. You can also replay completed areas to build up your stats, not a bad thing because the game is surprisingly short; Even on your own you can easily finish the whole thing in about 4-6 hours. What helps add some replay value is that Online play via Xbox Live has finally been added, but other than that not much is added to the experience.
One other major problem with this title is the game save format. You first have to save your game progress, then you have to separately save your characters...the problem here is if you want to save, say, a Wizard and a Warrior, you must create two or more different save files for each, otherwise you could easily overwrite a strong character with a weak one and lose all your progress! And nothing is really mentioned about it in the game or manual, and you'll find it to be a major pain when you accidentally lose all your hard work and have to start over.
While it's always nice to see a new Gauntlet title, and now one with online play, this one just feels like too much of a rush job and too great a diversion from what made Gauntlet the great franchise it was. Rent it for a weekend and play through it once to get all you can out of it, but if you want long-term playability go and dig up a copy of Dark Legacy instead.