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Action games and RPG games used to be very distinct and seperated, Wolfenstein, Doom and platformers being the action games, and Wizardry and Might and Magic being the RPG games. Early ventures into a hybrid action RPG genre such as Ultima Underworld and the Elder Scrolls series were met with critical acclaim, but there were more failures than success stories. Probably because the dual requirement of graphics and a large RPG environment was beyond the reach of the slower computers of the past. Betrayal at Krondor, an excellent game in its own right, was the best attempt to incorporate an action element, but that was very limited in scope.

Blizzard broke through this genre with Diablo, a fast and furious action game with heavy RPG overtones. Sometimes derided as a click-fest by hardcore RPG gamers, it was nonetheless very fun and much more friendly than old school RPG games, which have since been slowly sliding downwards into obscurity. The unparalleled success of Diablo prompted a slew of new action RPG games, some more action, some more RPG. The RPG genre has been slowly dying since its golden age in the 80's, but the rebirth of a new and more action-oriented genre prompted gamers to call 1999 the "Year of the RPG".

More classics followed. Fallout, more RPG oriented than action, was a gritty distopian adventure that won awards for its plot, flexibility and realism. Baldur's Gate single-handedly revived the all but buried AD&D computer game genre with its graphics, gameplay and old-school RPG rules mixed with an action-style pace of gaming. Nox, unfairly called a Diablo clone, was a very good game by Westwood that mixed humor and action into an excellent RPG adventure. Planescape Torment, based on the Baldur's Gate engine, was great in all facets.

With the recent release of Diablo 2 and the mania that followed, the action RPG genre looks bright, with a string of quality releases lined up in the near future. The next Elder Scrolls series looks absolutely amazing. The death of old-school RPG gaming is not without benefits.

fondue: If you haven't realized it yet, people can cool whatever they want.

Betrayal at Krondor did have an action element, for an RPG of that age, its turn-based system had a lot more action that most others. Or so I think, but hey, each gamer is different. In addition, I'm only talking about PC games here. Ultima? Not exactly a lot of action involved except in Ultima 9, and even that game was pretty slow-paced.

Yeah, RPG's have always had fighting. The transition to real time is what I'm talking about here.

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