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Developer: n-Space  Publisher: Digital Extremes  Multiplayer: 1 to five-players. Co-operative play in Dungeon Master mode.  Official site    Price atm £15.99   VIEW AT STEAM

SWORD COAST LEGENDS is an online and arcade style D&D dungeon hacking bash in the style of the original DIABLO fantasy hero adventure, but in group mode and with the advancements made possible with the passing of time and the upgrading of computer equipment and upgraded artistic writing programs.

Like all good D&D games you begin by creating your character and selecting the avatar who you will control through the good and the bad and against the decidedly ugly. Character creation is a lot quicker and less stressful (or amusing) than D&D played with pen & paper on a tabletop as all you need to do is choose a race - Elf, Human, Dwarf, Tiefling, Halfling, Gnome etc - Male or Female - Hair shape and colour, Eye shape & colour, Weapon skill and then proceed to distribute an allocation of experience points amongst the basic statistics, Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intelligence blah blah blah .... Then you are ready to get into the action.

You can choose solo or multi-player, the latter meaning you either have a group of friends (or just a friend) ready to join in, or you can join an already running game - the game will offer you a selection of possibilities. If you choose to play Solo then your character will swiftly meet other characters, aka NPCs, and you will band with them, leading by example and by taking control of each of them as necessary (use the Thief to open the locked chest etc) throughout the adventure.

You also have the choice of being a player or a Dungeon Master and of playing a campaign game or a single adventure (Rage of Demons comes with the pack) and of course options allow you to play Easy mode, Public Mode or Hard mode.

There are a myriad fantasy adventure games available for electronic devices, computers and consoles, just look online or go to your local store. Just how you decide which to play from the immense volume of FRPGs is all personal choice. Having the Dungeons & Dragons logo on this product will bring many players to look at it, but is it really D&D even if played with friends ? Personally I have played many, many, many, Fantasy Role-Playing Games on the computer and around a table, and for me, around a table face-to-face with friends or even competition entrants (when I am DM'ing) beats sitting at home on the PC and moving virtual miniatures around in a virtual world.

Now let me continue with this. I thoroughly enjoy games like World of Warcraft, Aion, Albion Online and Rift etc where the players are from all around the world. I also like games such as Diablo, Borderlands, Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, etc. etc. and the majority of the solo or multi player fantasy games that I have played over the years, many (okay some) of which I often return to.

SWORD COAST LEGENDS is indeed a legend, but unfortunately it is a legend of the past. It looks good, it utilises the power of the PC, plus it is graphically attractive and audibly effective. But, and of course you were expecting a "but", it isn't Dungeons & Dragons and it isn't new. It does have some good tabletop features such as allowing players to drop in and out of the game without penalty and it does have a Dungeon Master mode where you can try to input some of your own features into the game, and although there aren't many changes you can make to the regular game it is still good that you can "run" a game with friends almost as if it was a tabletop gathering.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is a tabletop role-playing game; it has also been a (or a few) board games, books, computer games, movies and even a TV series, but first and foremost it is a Tabletop Role-Playing Game and none of the other incarnations have ever matched it as such for awesomeness. Also, many tabletop D&D role-players will not, out of principle, play electronic games based on their favourite past-time, and similarly many electronic D&D players would never ever dream of sitting round a table and actually facing their peers.

The SWORD COAST is a region in Faerun in the Forgotten Realms D&D Campaign. In the books and scenario adventures it comes to life through the imaginations of millions of players and the characters bleed and sweat due to their own actions, dice rolls and the DungeonMaster's quick-thinking decisions. On your monitor SWORD COAST LEGENDS is an animated, hectic run around of mass murder and mayhem - well sort of  as you do get to kill lots of creatures and break things. What I am aiming at here is pointing out the distinct differences between the varieties of D&D available and am not attempting to dissuade anyone from enjoying a form of D&D on their PC. SWORD COAST LEGENDS is actually that, a form of D&D on the PC (via STEAM). Off my rpg soapbox, SWORD COAST LEGENDS is a fun way of playing an rpg without the expense of a monthly tariff and when there is no table and immediate friends available. 

It is fun that you can pull a party along with you. It is great that you can take control of any one of the characters, only beware that when you find a trap (when using the Rogue's ability) if you skirt around the trap the other characters are almost certainly going to follow you, but in a straight line - hence they will march happily straight across the trap - been there and done it so I know it is true.

SWORD COAST LEGENDS ticks all the fantasy adventure game (on computer) boxes. The only thing it doesn't bring to the table (metaphorically) is anything you haven't seen before if you have actually played more than a couple of any of the previously released rpg adventures on the PC. It looks and to a certain extent, plays, quite like the original DIABLO, and that is a good thing; for that was one of the greatest FRPGs ever to hit the home computer market and there is nothing wrong with being compared to something that has been hailed as excellent by the best.

Combat, always important, is handled very well. You can initiate an attack and then leave the characters to fight to the death or if you think they are struggling you can pause the action and rethink and even get them to vamoose and live to fight another day. I really like the continuous combat as I do get a bit uptight having to press a key or click a button each time I wield a sword or wave a wand. Yes you can take over control if you so wish but generally your character will fight to the best of their abilities as the Artificial Intelligence has been very well indented.

I guess my negativity is because I wanted more from the game because D&D has been around over 40 years and on computers nearly half of that time and I feel it should be more evolved now with all the technological advances that have been made. Hopefully people will play this, see the D&D logo and then think about having an occasional tabletop game with their friends. Then they can introduce them to SWORD COAST LEGENDS and before long there will be no more "us and them" attitude between tabletoppers and electronic gamers and more multiplayer games on both sides. Well worth a look for new players and others who are not sure what FRPG'ing is all about.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015