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Mage Knight: Apocalypse hands-on

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We have to admit, playing the videogame version of Mage Knight - a deeply storied and popular tabletop game from WizKids - without having ever touched one of the collectable miniatures made us feel a bit like poseurs. But the action role-playing Mage Knight: Apocalypse was so instantly addictive that we soon simply felt like heroes.

Mage Knight immediately stands apart from its towering peers because of its stunning good looks and versatile controls. With a flick of the mouse wheel, we zoomed from the top-down isometric view (think classic RPG Neverwinter Nights) into an over-the shoulder view that was more like Knights of the Old Republic. The zoom levels in-between should find Diablo and Dungeon Siege players right at home, as well. This kind of versatility kicked ass because the close third-person view gave us a distant look at the horizon that let us easily scout ahead for enemies, while the top-down vista allowed management of big spells and an overall view of our party.

Each of the five main characters represented a "core" class, but also featured up to three different sub-classes within each. The drop-dead gorgeous, undead Kithana could follow a necromancer, assassin or vampire path; Tal Windstrider, the paladin, could take on martial, healer or holy spell-caster duties; Janos Freeborn is a face-mauling tank of a Dwarf, but could also become adept with firearms or explosives. Considering the replayability of some of our favorite action/RPGs, this is the kind of flexibility we like to see.

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