For Co-Op Classics today, we will head back to 1995. Pierce Brosnan's James Bond and Buzz Lightyear were in the theaters, the O.J. Simpson trial was on TV, and Drew Barrymore gave David Letterman one of his best birthday presents ever. As far as computers went, you had a dial-up modem, 8 megs of memory, and crystal clear VGA graphics. The DOOM clones were out in force, and a nice variation of that formula was Hexen.
In this age of Xbox Live and Playstation Network, we are spoiled by easy access to other players. You can enjoy games with friends from other cities, states, even across the globe, all without leaving your family room. However, it wasn't always this way. In the mid 90s, taking your entire computer with you to a LAN party was one of the best ways to enjoy multiplayer gaming. Doom was the forefather that got everyone addicted, and a parade of other games followed it, all eager to attain the same popularity.
Several games succeeded by changing up Doom's basic formula. Duke Nukem 3D gave us a memorable character as protagonist, and cranked up the humor. Heretic came along, shifting the theme from sci-fi horror to dark fantasy, and replacing guns with crossbows. Hexen was the sequel to that game, and added in a class-based system that was unheard of in similar games of the time.
Taking a page out of the RPG handbook, Hexen allows players to choose one of three classes as their adventure begins. The fighter has increased health and armor, and the ability to use brutal, up-close melee weapons. The mage is the opposite, with weak health and armor, but possessing magical powers that could be used at a great distance. In between these two extremes, the cleric has well balanced strength, armor, and magic ability.
Each character class had their own set of weapon upgrades, adding to the custom feel. The fighter began with only spike-studded gloves, and could collect an axe, a magical hammer that shot projectiles, and an enormous magic sword that shot room-clearing bursts of green energy. A lowly wand is the mage's starting weapon, but he can eventually freeze enemies in ice, summon huge lightning bolts, and use a skull-topped staff to shoot fireballs that home in on opponents! The cleric's arsenal is equally impressive, including a mace, a creepy, serpent-eyed staff, and a spell that summons bursts of flame. The coolest weapon in the game is the cleric's final weapon, a cross shaped staff that summons ghosts to tear enemies apart. The weapons all look incredible on screen, and you feel like you are the one shooting ice from your hands, or punching enemies to a pulp.