Format: PC
Jowood Games

9 006113 147008
Age Restrictions: 12+
04 May 2007

More than a Millennium has passed since the Weave of Magic was viciously torn apart. The source of all arcane power and magic was then utterly lost. Now, a thousand years later, magic has come seeping back into the world, reawakening long-forgotten relics and ancient shrines...

Dawnspire features team-based online action with persistent characters and five player classes, all with their own unique playing style. You can unlock accomplishments and win awards as you prove yourself with and against players from all over the world, with no monthly outlay for the pleasure of playing. The game features team-based online action with five original playable classes, global rankings, full guild support, a unique and challenging game mode and a dedicated community fully supported through the game.

For those of you who, like me, are not happy to spend good money on online roleplay games where you have to pay a monthly subscription, it comes as a relief to see that Dawnspire offers free online play. While that's a welcome start you'll find it hard to track down that many people actually playing online at any one time. This is a little bit of a pain as the fun in this style of game is derived from the fact that they are designed so that you can hook up with lots of other players from across the globe and then merrily hack and slash your way through the environments from dungeons to forests etc until you've looted and slaughtered so hard that you suddenly realise that you haven't lived in the real world for a few days.

Battle takes place on servers running maps for up to 16 players. Players get killed and respawn just like in first person shooters, while trying to complete the objectives set up before the other team claims the win. Each game takes only about 10 to 20 minutes, and teamplay, cunning and player skill alone will determine the outcome. Possibly the biggest problem here though is the fact that there are no novice maps. Basically when you start playing you may well be playing against well seasoned gamers and that is a real bind. It would have been much more welcome if there had been novice levels where you can build up your strengths etc before being confronted by seasoned players.

Two game modes are available. In Relic Conquest the basic concept is simple, find and bring all three relics to your base. The first team to claim all the relics wins the round. If the time limit is reached the team with the most relics secured in the base wins. All the relics have unique effects requiring different tactics to capture.

In Shrine Domination the goal is to capture and hold four places of worship, known as shrines. The two teams start out with a number of points, and holding a shrine gradually reduces the enemy score. The first team to reduce the enemy score to zero wins. The four shrines all give your team different bonuses that grow stronger the longer you hold on to them. Choosing the most important shrines for your team and defending them is key to winning the game.

The game's set-up is fairly straightforward. Once you've sorted yourself out with a free account, it's time to create your character. This is pretty run-of-the-mill Dungeons & Dragons style races and skills options. And then you can log on and play.

This game only really works well when you are in a large group of other players, but more often than not we logged on to find only a handful of players wandering around. This meant that most of the characters we encountered were computer controlled bots - who seemed to want to kill us. This meant that we spent a lot of time respawning, only to be killed again and again.

This got incredibly frustrating very quickly and as such it's not difficult to see why there weren't many human players logged on. This is a shame, because the few times we managed to find a band of humans, the hack and slash aspect of the game was very enjoyable.

Sadly this game is only ever going to be any good if more people purchase it. As it stands at present it's not a game I would recommend.

Nick Smithson

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