How Did You Screw This Up: Wizardry 8

As a fan of both Wizardry VII and Wizardry 8, I wouldn't necessarily consider the latter a "screwed up" installment to Sir-tech's excellent cRPG series, but I also wouldn't argue that some of the points made in this article on Spectacle Rock are anything but valid. Their biggest issues seem to be:
What really hurt, though, was that they also decided to allow your characters to (speak) in W8 (another new feature). New players could select voices for their characters as they were created, but for imported parties, the game would randomly assign personalities. Suddenly my noble fighter was speaking like a drunken man-baby, barely able to string together a sentence. And my once-mighty wizard, filled to the brim with ancient knowledge and power, was talking like an effete cocktail party guest. These are, obviously, little things, but details like this can put a player in a sour mood right from the start.

On a more fundamental level, W8 also shook up the series' already rather robust skill system. In addition to the numerous weapon skill categories already available (Sword, Axe, Polearm, etc), W8 added in two overarching (Combat) skills: Close and Ranged. These served as an additional skill modifier for combat regardless of what weapon was being used. In practice, however, they felt like superfluous considerations in an already well-fleshed out system, and they simply added yet another thing for the player to have to divide up their meager skill points among at each level. This meant slower skill growth and, in the long run, slower combats. Characters statistics also switched from a D&D-esque 1-18 system to a 1 to 100 scale. Also gone were the random stat increases upon leveling up, replaced instead by a steady 6 pts per level to give out. Again, the overall effect of this was slower character growth, which made switching classes or creating more well-rounded characters a more difficult proposition.

Beyond character creation, the biggest change by far for anyone coming to W8 from the previous entries was the switch to 3D. 3D was by no means brand-new when Wizardry 8 was released in 2001, but it was a first for the series. Unfortunately for Wizardry 8, it's lengthy development cycle meant that it was built on an earlier-gen 3D engine that, by the time the game was released, was already behind the times. The graphics were by no means terrible, but compared to Deus Ex, which was released a year earlier, to to The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, which was released just 6 months or so later, W8 was obviously not up to par. The controls were also clumsy, using mouse and keyboard for navigation, but getting very confused if you tried to use both at once.

The world of Wizardry 8 was sprawling, which was great for the would-be explorer, but it was also sadly empty. Large spaces between points of interest had nothing in them whatsoever, save a few trees here and there to look at. Moving around the world is also a slow process, with trips between points taking several minutes at a slow crawl. The party has a (run) option, but this drains stamina as well as opens you up to sneak attacks from roaming enemies. Later in the game the player can acquire a few different options for teleporting from point to point, but for much of the game travel feels like a chore rather than an adventure.
Thanks, Jay.