Video Game Weaponry – Magic Based
Author :        Date : 24-Sep-11

As detailed in the first article in this series, game developers provide us with a variety of methods to inflict punishment upon, or defend ourselves against, the evil minions that occupy our gaming world.  These can be classified into the following categories:
Melee          Ranged          Magic
We previously reviewed the direct, brutal approach of wielding Melee weapons.  This writing will focus on the arcane arts of Magic.  As stated previously, this is not meant to be all-inclusive, inventory type of document, but more of a general overview from this old school gamer.
Employing magic during combat usually requires more strategic thought than simply lumbering forward with a big ole stick.  In addition to managing manna reserves, correct timing and spell choice play a critical role.  The mage must also keep their distance from the hordes due to their typically lowered physical attributes.

Personally, this method can be somewhat frustrating, especially when games force you into this playing style just to continue the story.  I love AoE (Area of Effect) spells, even though they are usually over-powered.  The following takes a look at some of these arcane arts and my thoughts on them.

It seems like all mages are endowed with the ability to manipulate Fire through magic.  From the basic fireball (Flare) to the most catastrophic (Meteor Storm), most foes are not immune to this high-temp assault.  For whatever reason, this is usually the first spell that is acquired in your gaming adventure.  The graphics usually rock when unleashing one of these high powered attacks.  Overall, a nice, consistent weapon of destruction. Water magic is a tough nut to crack.  Often times it encapsulates recuperative abilities of some sort while also enabling the use of offensive spells like Freeze and Tidal Wave.  This lack of focus is rather bothersome for this OCD gamer since it does not allow me to master any particular aspect of battle.  Has anyone else noticed that only fire breathing dragons suffer significant damage from this type of magic?  I think I’ll take a pass.
Earth magic has to be the most schizophrenic of all the arcane arts.  Half the time it can be used for defensive purposes through barriers and the like, other times it can let loose Mother Nature’s true furry.  The best spell by far is definitely Petrify (Poison being a close second), but unfortunately games limit the chance of success to usually only 10% due to its incapacitating power. This has got to be one of the most under-developed magic types of all time.  Sure, Wind magic can produce gems like Tornado and Vortex, but other than that programmers usually rip off other elemental forces (i.e. Wind Blades is akin to Flare).  If this lack of creativity isn’t enough, the damage inflicted is usually lackluster compared to its counterparts.  IMHO, this magic blows.
What is there not to like about the Lightning magic?  It took game developers a while to graphically depict the true horror of being electrocuted (remember the flashing skeleton?), but once they mastered it there was no going back.  Typically the incantations are the same with varying wattage (ie. Thunder, Thundera, Thundaga), but this repetitiveness does not deter this gamer.  Flip the breaker bro and unleash that electrical storm! Spirit magic is sometimes an anomaly for me.  There always seems to be that one type of foe that is immune to everything with the exception of this type of damage.  On the other hand, there is no mystery when it comes to Light and Dark magic (which I am including in this category) – they rock!.  The cost of wielding this power is usually substantial (manna, life points, etc).  Still, unleashing the power locked within oneself is gratifying.
Attribute Enhancement
Almost all mages have at least some ability to miraculously heal themselves and/or their compadres.  From Heal to Cure to Resurrect, these maintenance tasks are imperative at some point during your journey.  The bad thing is that assigning these duties to an AI controlled magician can be perilous.  They usually have little to no common sense and burn through manna like a drunkard does with hot sauce packets on a Soft Taco Supreme. Let me get this out of the way right up front – I love power-ups, but I hate to manage them through the use of magic.  When imbued with Attribute Enhancements, it is a safe bet that my gaming character will begin to glow in some sort or be sporting some nifty icon halo over my melon.  In all honesty, I’d rather pop an icy cold Damage 2X potion than mess around with the menus or button combinations to get the same effect.
Summoning magic has evolved greatly through the years, probably more so than any other type of magic.  In the early days of gaming, you were limited to evoking a mythical beast to aid in your battles.  Now you can summon a small army, resurrect the dead or direct innocents to fight for your cause.  I was never a big fan of this type, until I played Sacred 2.  Now I am hooked. Some games give you the opportunity to evolve into the ultimate being.  This power usually becomes available in degrees to the gamer, with the highest level being a prerequisite to defeating the final villain.  Graphically these Transformations are stunning and presented at the highest level.  The bad thing is that most games limit this use to the latter stages of the game.  Unleash me already!

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