Description: Reviewed by Eisead for the Phrozen Keep.
Categories: Mod Reviews
A good friend of mine, who told me Zy-El was the greatest thing sense sliced bread, talked me into downloading this mod. Anxious us to see what made it better, I downloaded the almost six megabyte file and unzipped it. Low and behold, the read-me was bigger then the mpq! Seeing as how the current style of mods is the bigger the better, I began to wonder what made it so great.
The readme For starters. I shouldn’t call it a Readme, I should call it, a guide. Spanning 18 pages of full color goodness explaining every little detail that was changed, documented all the runewords, and every cube recipe. On top of that every page is decorated with a piece of artwork, although some may be too mature for others, it really added to the flavor of the mod even before I started playing.
Zy-El is more of a crafters mods, with over 70% of the game being all about creating things in your cube. With 4500 levels, you'll have plenty of time to do all the crafting you want. Yes, the max level in this version of Zy-El is 4500, a feature that I don't recall being in any other mod. This gives you the ability to make a hybrid version of every character in the game and the opportunity for some crazy 'I WILL BE THE ONE' hardcore themed action. When you think of 4500 skill points your most likely starting to think of ways to use them, don't worry about that, the skill level max is 100. A thing I really liked is the way a 100-skill level makes some of those weaker skills really shine
The next things that shined where late game play, once you made it past act 3 you hit the land of many missile graphics. The way the mod works, there is a very detailed system of crafting items that you absolutely must use or feel the pain of choosing otherwise. Once you have a crafted ring, transmute a Diamond and boom, a Ring that has chance to cast Fist of the Heavens. The Crafting System is a huge plus to mod play and will have you doing Chaos Sanctuary runs until your eyes fall out, just to find that the Glacier Trail has even better drops.
But like all new mods there are some design flaws that should be taken care of in the future. The first major design flaw is that of items. Up until normal, crafted items are godly, then unique items throw what's left of the balance out the window, and like regular Diablo II, only about 2% of the runewords are worth using (which could almost be like a feature because its like gambling for powerful runewords). One thing I personally like in a mod is a large selection of item options at all work. The mod also suffers from the same misery as regular Diablo II: character balance. Amazon's still rule overall, necromancers, druids, and most specialty builds suffer. Monster vs Player balance is laughable, from the readme it sounded like nightmare and hell were to be 'crazy-hard', but compared to the items you get to balance it out; it was slightly easier then normal difficulty.
Zy-El: Trial by Fire is an excellent example of how a mod can be made great without heavy code editing, fancy item pictures, redone interfaces, or colorful new skills.
Anyone wishing to check out the Zy-El mod can do so by visiting the official website at http://zyel.d2mods.com.
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[url=http://d2mods.info/forum/kb/viewarticle?a=107&sid=dde800e847a05347161c45adc2e75c05]Knowledge Base - [LoD v1.09x] Zy-El: Trial By Fire v1.02 by Kato[/url]