Author Topic: REVIEW: Four Evils (by James Rand)  (Read 1035 times)

Offline Olivier Leroux

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REVIEW: Four Evils (by James Rand)
« on: January 30, 2009, 04:52:39 PM »
Four Evils
by James Rand

Reviewed by Dan Crawford

It’s appropriate that this little gem should have been part of the 1997 Halloween Contest; because if any design gets you in the mood for the macabre, it’s The Four Evils. Not only are you fighting demons, and demi-gods in this design, you are controlling a vampire PC. Any of you who have played Coric’s Heart of Darkness, winner of the 1994 Halloween Contest, will recognize the hero of this adventure: Rascyc, the loveable vampire that has changed his evil ways and now seeks a return to mortality. Rascyc makes an encore performance in The Four Evils which may or may not be a sequel to Heart of Darkness. We’ll have to ask the creators of the original adventure. ;)

But even if The Four Evils is a sequel, some things have changed for our hero, the vampire. In this adventure, he no longer relies upon his vampiric abilities. James has given Rascyc some more magical abilities, plus he has decided to emphasize the tragic hero’s expertise with the blade in this adventure. Having said this, naturally some hacking had to be done. James has done some wonderful work with the item file, and the original spell file. We are given a bunch of new necromantic spells to use, and some neato magical weapons to boot. Add all of these things added to an already powerful vampire PC, and you’ve got yourself a pretty powerful dude. So what’s the goal of this adventure?

Well, surprisingly enough, the basic goal of The Four Evils is fairly straight forward. In an attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of his deity Paladine, the tragic hero has been given the task of destroying four powerful overlords of the elemental planes. We don’t get a lot of plot development here. They’re bad guys, and Paladine wants them dead, so let's go get them. I had hoped for a bit more intrigue here; some darker, more sinister plot, but it’s a fairly generic ‘kill the bad guys because that’s what Paladine wants’. So if there is any drawback to this design, it’s the blandness of its plot. But once you’ve accepted that, The Four Evils becomes a terrific romp through the planes.

There is a lot to recommend in this adventure. First, and probably most important of all, James Neal is a very thorough and talented writer. The scenes described in the game are descriptive and unique. We don’t get the same old events every time, and there is a great deal of flavor to the encounters. Secondly, there are some really cool hacks in this design. Continuous music is present, and it definitely helps add to the mood. Not only that, but the music is new, and most of it is very good. I especially liked the music from the movie Last of the Mohicans. :D And of course you have the race and class hacking as I mentioned before. All of this adds up to a new, and very original adventure.

James has added quite a number of new pieces of art in all categories; new icons, pics and big pics. In fact, he barely uses any of the default art in this game. A definite plus!

That brings us to combat. Overall, combat in this design is very fair. The fact that you control only one pc makes this a sticky area. And although Rascyc is powerful, he’s fighting some awfully powerful opponents as well. A few of the combats, especially a big battle in the Fire Plane, are very difficult. Expect to reload at least once or twice when you fight these baddies. But overall, combat is fair, and evenly spaced out. You won’t get the random combats that frequent many games on the net.

As a final note, “The Four Evils” is James Neal’s first uploaded adventure. If this is his first effort, I can hardly wait to see what he will put out with a little bit more experience!

Even though Halloween 1997 has come and gone, this mod is perfect for any stormy night. Play it with the lights off, and turn up the volume on your speakers. You’ll enjoy it that much more.


    * Plot Matter: 5
    * Artwork: 9
    * Hacks: 9
    * Text: 7
    * Events: 7
    * Originality: 7
    * Errors: 7

    * Difficulty: 6

    * Total Rating: 74%
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 05:06:44 PM by Olivier Leroux »

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: REVIEW: The Four Evils (by James Rand)
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 05:03:18 PM »
Halloween Contest Results
Judged by Susan McKinney

You three have made me make a very tough decision. All three modules were FANTASTIC!!! I'll describe each separately and then I will present my results.

First I played Four Evils by James Neal [Edit OL: aka James Rand]. I have not yet played any Rascyc module. This was an interesting take on the vampire redeeming himself storyline. I personally am a Vampire-o-phile, just ask Don. The storyline was very straightforward and interesting. I'm trying not to give anything to big away for those who want to play it. I loved the text file with information available to the player. The hacked spells were great!! I think the way you changed them worked very well for the game. The artifacts were very nice and useful too. The pics were very well done and so were the icons. I ran into a problem running the game on my poor little computer in Windows. My combat with the Spider Queen kept freezing up while it was playing the music. Once I played in DOS only, it was fine.

Second, I played Harvest of Sorrows by Dan Crawford. This was a fantastic original game from the get-go. The music was so spooky that I turned the sound off with the alt-t key when I went to bed. (I'm in the habit of leaving the module open at a save spot when I'm tired) The border was very nice, a little bit hard on the eyes after a while but very Halloweeny. The story line flowed from point to point while keeping the player guessing at what was really going on. I particularly like the East Woods events, very spooky indeed.

Thirdly, I played Blue Kitten by Suzanne Ferrare (Sorry if I misspelled your name). What a hilarious little adventure. I LOVED the brooms as arrows and the pumpkins as sling bullets. I also thought the graphics you did for the program were very nice (I am no artist). I played through the adventure a couple of times to get to the different options. The running commentary between characters reminded me of my *real* gaming group.

Something all three of you did was change the background for the combats with features and neat stuff like that. It made the games very cohesive and I personally like little details like that.

Like I said earlier, you made it a very difficult choice, but here is my tally: BTW, John V. these numbers are my rankings for the module list as well...

1ST Place - Harvest of Sorrows 9
2ND Place - Four Evils 8
3RD Place - Blue Kitten 7

BTW, Please don't throw vegetables at me!!
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 05:05:31 PM by Olivier Leroux »

Offline PetrusOctavianus

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Re: REVIEW: Four Evils (by James Rand)
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2017, 02:02:26 PM »
This was en extremely short module.
I started with the very small plane of Air, got the Black Sword and then was teleported to the even smaller sanctum of the Lord of the Flies. First fight was against 5-6 different bug demons. With Rascyc having only 16 Dex the demons got the initiative every round, so no chance to cast any spells.
After several tries I finally defeated them, but Int and Wiz had been reduced to 3, leaving Rascyc unable to both cast and memorize spells.
He's supposed to regenerate wounds, but that did not happen when walking around with Search on. Resting was not allowed either, so I was forced to face the Lord of the Flies and his minions with no spells and only 31 HP. Needless to say it was soon game over.

Offline hans

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Re: REVIEW: Four Evils (by James Rand)
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2017, 08:57:56 PM »
When PetrusOctavianus, who I know is no pushover, finds a mod's combats difficult, that piques my interest.  I love a good (UA) fight!

Four Evils by James Rand has quite a few good, challenging fights.  In fact, it is primarily a combat mod.  It struck me as somewhat akin to a (Nintendo) MegaMan game, where the hero must go into a number of vastly different environments to kill a big boss in each.  In Four Evils, those environments are Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. 

I chose Water, first, which probably was quite fortuitous, as there I picked up a nice "Chalice of Blood" -- a hacked item which holds unlimited Heal spells.  This mod, btw, is extremely hacked, and wonderfully so.  The pre-made PC you play is a vampire.  One of his hacked SpecAbs is the ability to regenerate 3 HP per combat round (a power that kicks in after several rounds).  A good strategy, then (one I previously suggested for my own Man-Storm mod), is not to end a Combat until the hero regains all of his Hit Points. 

There's great new art, new monsters, and new music.  And it's a very fun mod.  What further makes it a classic, imo, is the writing.  The character of Rascyc, the repentant vampire, his dilemma, and his anguished thoughts at the end of the mod are exceptional, making him one of FRUAdom's most memorable fictional characters. 

Four Evils is now one of my all-time favorite mods!   :headbang:

« Last Edit: June 30, 2017, 09:02:18 PM by hans »