One of several prominent PC RPG names during its heyday a decade ago, the last new addition to the classic Wizardry series was back in the early nineties with the release of Wizardry 7, which was later remade in 1995 with updated graphics, sounds and interface as Wizardry Gold. 6 years later, Sir-tech Canada is on the verge of releasing a true sequel to the series; Wizardry 8 will go retail tomorrow, November 15th, after 4 years in development.
While a giant step forward over its predecessors graphically, the lengthy development cycle has put somewhat of a hamper on the game's graphics engine prowess. Even so, Wizardry 8's lush, expansive 3D environments aren't likely to disappoint, while the fluid animation of the game's bestiary, numbering in excess of 100 unique monster models, should prove fairly impressive. Perhaps even more intriguing than the wide range of enemies is the breadth of choices available for character customization while creating your 6 member party. There are 11 races to choose from, ranging from the ordinary human to the dragon-like dracon, and 15 classes, including gadgeteer and psionic, among others. Also, each character can be assigned one of 36 personalities, which serve to determine their verbal reactions to given situations.
While strongly rooted in standard swords and sorcery fare, Wizardry 8 is hardly a mere romp through a mundane fantasy realm; following the tradition of the previous games in the series, Wizardry 8 offers an interesting mix of fantasy and science fiction, creating a compelling hybrid of magic and technology. Picking up where the last installment in the series left off, your group of adventurers must track down the Dark Savant in order to prevent him from obtaining the power of the Cosmic Lords. Just as the story continues from where Wizardry 7 left off, gamers that still have old save files from previous games can import their old characters, affecting how the story begins. There are 4 different beginnings to the story, as well as multiple endings, making for huge replayability.
Allowing for both phased (turn-based) and continuous (pseudo real-time) combat modes, Wizardry 8 has the potential to appeal to a wide range of RPG fans upon its release tomorrow. Until then, however, browse through RPGFan's collection of screen shots and artwork, here and here respectively.