The Wheel of Time (video game)
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|The Wheel of Time|
|Publisher(s)||GT Interactive Software|
|Designer(s)||Glen R. Dahlgren|
|Release||PC: October 31, 1999|
The game is based on the Unreal Engine, combining elements of first-person shooter games like Unreal with strategy/role-playing game elements. It can be played either in single-player or multiplayer modes, which determines the course of the game. The single-player gameplay variant is linear and centered on a fictional character named Elayna Sedai, the Keeper of the Chronicles of the White Tower.
In the multiplayer version of the game, however, the player may act as either Elayna Sedai, the Leader of the Children of the Light, one of the Forsaken, or the Hound, an entirely new character type. This multiplayer version contains two modes: Arena and Citadel. Arena is a basic deathmatch, in which the winner is the player or team who kills the most. Citadel is similar to a capture-the-flag style of gameplay, in which each team must capture the "seal" of the other teams. Seals can be protected in the base through a variety of traps and computer-controlled guards. Though the multiplayer game's play volume was never as high as that of many other first-person shooters, it continued to be played by a loyal group of fans long after its release.
Wheel of Time gives the player an assortment of over 40 ter'angreal — magical artifacts which can be used to cast specific weaves (spells). These artifacts range from offensive weapons to shield and healing spells. Others offer more complex spells such as swapping the player's location with the target. The number and variety of spells available allows for combinations of weaves to be used, as well as effective counterattacks from enemy AI or other players.
The game's setting in respect to the novels is ambiguous. Elayna Sedai, the protagonist and the player's alter ego, is reading a report from an expedition she sent out, when she is attacked by an unknown assassin in her office in the White Tower. She is knocked out, and he makes off with an odd, horn-shaped ter’angreal but not the cuendillar seals he was looking for. The Amyrlin subsequently sends Elayna to recover the ter’angreal.
Elayna follows the assassin and his army of Trollocs to the crumbling city of Shadar Logoth, which is inhabited by unknown evil creatures. She tracks the assassin through the city, battling Trollocs and dark creatures along the way and finally corners the assassin, who admits that he was hired by the Forsaken Ishamael. Ishamael is seeking the seals held by the Amyrlin. The assassin agrees to return the ter’angreal in return for his life. Just as Elayna retrieves the ter’angreal, the assassin is assailed by Mashadar, the evil that consumed Shadar Logoth, manifested as a mist-like creature.
Upon returning to Tar Valon, Elayna finds the White Tower besieged by Trollocs. After helping to secure the tower, Elayna is told that the Amyrlin wants to see her in the basement with the ter’angreal. On her way to the basement, Elayna overhears a group of Black Ajah Aes Sedai with the assassin from Shadar Logoth and another Aes Sedai named Sephraem, all of whom are working for Ishamael.
When Elayna finds the Amyrlin, she tells her of the Black Ajah. The Amyrlin then tells Elayna of the importance of the odd ter’angreal: Elayna, a weak channeller, has the potential to be the most powerful being on earth. Since her childhood, the Amyrlin has shielded Elayna from the One Power for her own protection, and the odd ter’angreal is able to unlock that power. Just as the Amyrlin is about to use the ter’angreal on Elayna, the assassin and Sephraem break in, kill the Amyrlin, and take the ter’angreal as well as the Amyrlin’s seal.
Elayna takes a few moments to mourn the Amyrlin’s passing, then pursues the assassin and his minions as the new acting Amyrlin. They lead her to an empty Aes Sedai expedition site outside a Whitecloak fortress. She is captured by the Whitecloaks and thrown in the dungeon, where a few of the Aes Sedai are located. Elayna learns that some Aes Sedai were able to escape through a portal stone outside the fortress. She manages to escape from her cell and makes her way to the portal stone.
The portal takes her into the Mountains of Mist, near the fortress of Ishamael. She finds the escaped Aes Sedai in the dungeon of the fortress, rescues them, and defends them while they make their way back to the portal stone. Once they are all away, she begins to search the fortress for the Amyrlin’s seal, which the assassin, now referred to as the Hound, brought to the fortress.
While searching the fortress, she finds some notes on a long lost ritual to remove from the seals the power with the intent to release the Dark Lord from his prison. She eventually finds the seal, guarded by Sephraem. After defeating her and claiming the seal, Elayna is captured by Ishamael, who prepares to torture her. The Hound comes in and uses the odd ter’angreal to trap Ishamael in a Shield. He then explains that he has succumbed to the chaotic evil of Shadar Logoth, and how he purposefully pitted Ishamael, the Aes Sedai and the Whitecloaks against each other to sow chaos. Elayna and Ishamael are able to escape the Hound’s grasp, and Elayna begins gathering seals to complete the aforementioned ritual.
Once they are gathered, Elayna travels to Shayol Ghul, where the ritual must be performed. The Hound arrives, offering to trade the odd ter’angreal, which could bestow untold powers on Elayna, for the seals. To his surprise, Elayna refuses the offer, noting how she had spent her life without those powers. She sends the Hound falling to his death with the artifact and completes the ritual, ensuring that the Dark Lord cannot escape his prison until the Last Battle.
In the United States, The Wheel of Time's sales reached 30,085 copies by the end of 1999.
The game was given a rating of 8.3 by GameSpot, while at IGN it was awarded an overall rating of 7.3. In 2003, The Wheel of Time was rated #10 on GameSpy's list of the most underrated games of all time.
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