Games Workshop, £7.95
Chaos is a game of magical combat between 2 to 8 wizards with over 50 animated spells, and creatures summoned to resolve the question of who will become the Lord of Creation. Each player takes his turn to select and cast spells and move the summoned creatures. The winner is the last wizard left alive after all the zapping is over, but there is a limit on the number of turns to achieve a victory, so a contest can be drawn.
The options open to enliven play are commendably large. Up to 8 wizards can be selected and any or all can be controlled by the computer. Further, the intelligence of the computer can be altered from a low one to its most competent at 8, at which level it plays a mean game. Like Talisman, Chaos is a complex strategy game but it can be boiled down to choosing spells, and part of the joy of the game is to become familiar with how each spell functions. If you are not familiar with D&D this may take a considerable length of time, although you might see it as one way of introducing yourself to the genre. Spells, which can summon up creatures or elements like fire, lightning etc. are either Lawful, Chaotic or Neutral, where casting Chaos spells make the universe more chaotic and less favourable for Law. Having chosen your spell, there is no guarantee it will be successfully cast — this is determined by the type of spell (10% for a Golden Dragon, 100% for a Giant rat) where there is a lesser chance of casting a powerful spell. Illusions, however, are always cast but are susceptible to the Disbelieve spell.
Starting the game and consulting the spell tables it soon becomes apparent that this is a very attractively designed game with a super clear and large redefined character set a million miles from that of the Spectrum. This neatness and presentability, along with the efficient beeps and buzzes, tell you this game was designed with the best intentions — to please the purchaser. The spell list is not only colourful, the shade of colour indicates how difficult each spell is to cast. To see exactly what you might be letting yourself in for you can check out the spell with the information files which give some idea of the range and power of the spell along with the vulnerability of the combatant and its opponent. Spells include the Gooey Blob, which spreads and engulfs enemy creatures but does not affect your creatures; magic fire which can spread alarmingly, trapping and killing the enemy; to magic wings, a spell that transfers the wizard into a flying creature with a wide range of action. The creatures a wizard summons prove useful in many different ways. Flying creatures can hop over obstacles, wizards on mounts move more freely and with greater safety, and the undead can only be attacked by other undead.
The screen starts off very simply and uncluttered (perhaps too simply — a terrain of, say, bushes and walls might have added some atmosphere) but as each wizard summons more and more creatures it soon becomes busy enough for one or two sparks to fly. The graphics are very pleasing with super sprites of arrows and lightning bolts. The many dragons, bears, lions, hydra etc each have their own easily recognisable forms and motions. It’s true that I chiefly review adventure games, but I must say just how impressive the sound here is — it has the little Spectrum speaker straining in a quite a harmonious fashion. The sounds are thick and throaty and you really feel every bolt of lightning as it hits you.
It is difficult to get everything right in a very complicated game but I did feel there could have been a status report for your wizard’s strength, hit points and magical resistance during the game. The way things are, you don’t know how much damage has been done. Perhaps a greater number of missile attacks like the Magic Missile of Dungeons and Dragons may have broadened interest further. Also, a fireball spell would have proved a useful area effect spell. A constant problem during play is the quick disappearance of information concerning your opponents’ spells which flash up too quickly to read before they are gone.
Chaos serves up something that has long been needed in the computer games world, a game which can be played by a great number of players not in a token sense, but in a fully competitive framework whereby each player is actively involved. Games Workshop have brought their knowledge of D&D and board-games to the microcomputer in a very professional manner and have produced games of real substance.
easy to play, once you get into it
Graphics: combat area is sparse but character and special effects graphics are good
Presentation: good, with large colourful text
Response: very fast
General Rating: Very good strategy game.