Hexen 2 came out in 1997 and was developed by Raven on Quake 1 engine. It's mostly a single-player FPS with RPG flavor. Well, the way that it was done back in the day, not about plots but about wandering around. And it can also be played in multiplayer, both competive and cooperative. Sadly, there is no expansion pack for it in Steam, Portal of Praevus, so it's just stand-alone Hexen 2.
Now, seeing how id handled this Steam release? You guessed it, no CD music! But on positive side, Hexen 2 actually had MIDI music in it as alternative. While I would recommend you to track down soundtrack or game CD, MIDI is still a fine. It also lacks intro movie, so you have to watch that yourself on YouTube. It also includes only OpenGL version of a game, there is no Software option. Otherwise, it's also kinda fine. Not sure about widescreen. It handles some HUD graphics badly on higher resolution screens, like it doesn't stretch intermission graphic fully. And then, it also kept all the original game's bugs. Boy, was that buggy. My first game-breaking bug was in the Aztec-like world, where it kept failing to load location that I visited previously properly, just erroring out. Had to restart progress there with use of console commands. And then in Egypt-like world solving clock puzzle correctly didn't open the door in another location, making it unsolvable. Yay "noclip" command. And in greece world it would randomly crash because fish would randomly try to do invalid behavior or something. I murdered them later. So yea, just get Hammer of Thyrion engine port. It should fix most bugs while it doesn't change the way that game looks. So purist like me will be happy. Oh, and since it's Quake 1 engine game, don't forgot to input "+mlook" console command for mouseview!
As for Multiplayer, well, it probably should work. This game screams for Cooperative gameplay with friend, I think. Even though it's still more of single-player experience. But since it has no server browser and isn't Doom/Quake, then I take it that community is "dead". Didn't find server with people at least.
Story follows Dragon Riders saga, as you have to take on the biggest and meaniest red menace of them all. And so this time around you will have ot travel through few time periods as well, visiting dark castles, Egypt, Greece, Aztec. Hm. Well, actually you have to travel over four continents of Eidilon world. And well, just go and read the manual, find it in Internet. It's worth it. Nothing much going on in the game though. Didn't bother with special music for intermission/ending even!
So, now about Hexen 2 itself. Great sequel. I actually think that it did a much better job than Hexen itself. The only thing that original has over this is a bit more colorful setting. Otherwise, Hexen 2 mostly improved and fixed some of the problems I had with original. It's more interesting and less repetetive.
One of the small changes, as you would expect, are classes and leveling. There are four of them now, but they all still dare to have only 4 weapons, which is shame. But now as classes level up, they will open two additional abilities. Most of which are actually pretty passive and wouldn't change your playstyle.
-Paladin is mostly focused on head-on meleeing, your first hub will be spent swaying only sword. His first ability is that he swims with same speed as running, while second ability is that he may regenerade instead of dieing. So, pretty passive stuff, but still fine character. -Crusader is another head-on class, but not as focused on melee. His abilities are all focused on keeping himself alive. One ability is that he will randomly get health bonus while fighting, second ability is that enemies sometimes will drop Holy Power, to power you up for some time. -Necromancer is slow character who is stronger at range. His first ability is that health may drop from enemies. Second ability is strange, you can sometimes get health by hitting enemies with melee attack. Seeing how he is slow and weak, it's pretty much not worth it even if you are lucky. -Assassin is a weak direct damage output yet fast character. It's also supposedly stealth character. Character with freaking stealth abilities in a game where AI doesn't do anything to make them worth it! First ability is that she can become invinisble in darkness if she stands there for some time. Useless. And she can backstab enemies with her melee. Which is hard to pull off, at rare times when enemy isn't facing you. And even if backstab does few times more damage than usual melee hit, her puny melee weapon is so weak, it doesn't do anything good in the end. Just forget about abilities and concentrate on damage-avoiding playstyle.
This time your character will level up as you kill more and more monsters too. Leveling up increases stats like health and mana, but you will not get to choose what to do with level-up. It's just a little thing to make killing every enemy worth it. And thankfully, it's not Hexen 1. When you compare Quake to Doom, you will notice that they focused on having less enemies in each encounter. Whether it is for the better ot not is not something easy to decide. And Hexen 2, running on Quake engine, has much less enemies per encounter than Hexen, running on Doom engine. And boy, this one is actually much more fun in this case. Combat in Hexen 1 felt too repetetive, having to kill dozen dumb monsters with 4 weapons for whole game. Hexen 2 improved it by focusing on less yet smarter or just more interesting enemies. Hexen 1 would swarm you with annoying shielding centaurs, who just dumbly walk twoard you and shield for few seconds upon any damage. Hexen 2 has shielding were-jaguars, who actively jump, run and roll around, only sometimes putting on shields, with the game throwing only around 2-3 of these dangerous tough enemies at you in same time.
Not only that, but Quake engine allowed puzzles to get much more varied. Hexen 1 was about finding switches to find more switches. Hexen 2 will make you run and wander around, looking carefully at walls to see breakable ones, making you bring sand to the forge to turn it into glass or solving a time puzzle in Egypt. You can agrue that it's almost same by complexity, but it's much more interesting this way. Especially the first hub and Egypt ones, they are very mysterious. it also helps a lot that Hexen 2 is more detailed, having houses filled with furnite, for example, thus making exploration more interesting. Sometimes it lacks enough clues though, making you wander around for awhile. Or finding out that some wall was actually passable like a ghost wall. That happens. That, and it's still much much more puzzling than what most FPS players ever expect. "Puzzling" as in "Where am I supposed to go next?".
Music is also pretty good. It's mostly remixed of Heretic and Hexen music made to sound more ambient. Has some good tracks of it's own.
And well, while I mostly like this game a lot, it has few annoying things. One of them is physics. Player control. For some reason it feels like they wanted to appeal to Quake speeders. Diagonal running is SO much faster than just running forward, it's very noticeable. And well, I don't usually like such weird controls. But well, it's for some reason is quite addictive, as in few hours I ended up strafejumping up the slopes at high speed as a way to move between location. Well, okay, that wasn't so bad, what is actually bad are pools of water where walls aren't lowe enough. In these cases you have to gain actual speed when you reach the surface, you have to shoot yourself out instead of just climbing out, pretty much. Too challenging. Don't forget to bind "swim up" in controls. Also, ocassional unavoidable damage bring game down.
Hexen 2 improves a lot on Hexen ideas, not being as repetitive and more fun. While you may be frustrated while playing it, once you are done, you will remember this adventure fondly.
On the plus side, the weapons are far less overpowered this time around, and the modified Quake engine allows for far more complex level design, on top of a 3D look that hasn't aged perfectly, but still is more pleasing to the eye than enemies that look like they're made from cardboard. They also played it up as much more of an RPG this time around, giving each class a set of visible stats that automatically level up when you've gained enough experience points from killing enemies, giving you an incentive to fight rather than just run past everything. The puzzles are also largely improved, most having solutions that don't require you to activate some unknown wall or something. No, this game will tell you, and you'll probably be able to figure it out without a guide. On the negative side, the Quake engine. While it's good to look at and everything, you'll have to do a bit of tweaking to get the resolution accurate, set mouse controls, and all that stuff, and it all has to be done manually. It's not a huge complaint, but it's just a quick pain that you have to go through whenever you install the game. Even if you weren't a fan of the previous games, I'd suggest giving this one a go.
This game will only seem appealing to a narrow group of players. If you were born in the 70s or to the 80s or wish to see where the FPS genre came from, then sure. Being as I am a retro gamer; I simply love this game. Not as nostalgic as the first but gold none the less.
In the early days of Quake and Doom the games were generally a one trick pony. In the Hexen and Heretic they implemented a inventory system as well as selectable character classes; something new to the genre and with this one a level up system even.
It's worst flaws are the dated graphics and some of the puzzles are quite frustrating. You must pay attention to detail and remember large levels to progress in any sort of enjoyable time/manner.
Fun Gl version of the old Hexen II game. Who can't love the Quake engine fps games? This one involves a few more RPG elements and a surprisingly lot of terrain to travel. A great distraction on a saturday afternoon. Look out for Heretic also.