Written by  :  Jeanne (76520)
Written on  :  May 22, 2005
Rating  :  3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars

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Much better than its prequel. Good .. just not great.

The Good

I was tentative buying this game at all, but my curiosity got the best of me. Then it sat on my shelf for months, always being pushed aside to opt for other games, until I finally decided to brave installation. Why did I wait? Because the first Crystal Key game was so riddled with bugs .. and I was afraid this one would be the same.

And what a pleasant surprise! Crystal Key 2 ran flawlessly from start to finish. No problems whatsoever were encountered. All worked very well - panning around in the 3D atmosphere didn't making me dizzy; picking up, using and combining inventory objects was easy; moving about in point-and-click fashion was pleasant and saving / loading games was a breeze.

Since you learn that most of the people have been abducted already, there are only a few left behind. So it stands to reason that you will find only 6 or 7 non-player characters to interact with. Even though the graphics for those characters is only average, the conversations you have with them are interesting with well-written scripts. The dialogues are automatic without the need to select questions or answers. Some conversations are triggered by other actions you have taken in the game - or by the occasional offering of an inventory item. It is those conversations that tie the different parts of the story together.

The voice actors did a good job of portraying their characters, and I enjoyed listening to the voice of the main character (Call) the most. Lip-sync was terrible, however, so I opted to read along with the written subtitles more often than not.

Besides the great addition of a working navigational map, there are several very interesting modes of transportation in this game. To get to new places, you'll use a jetpak, a "fishbot" underwater submarine, and eventually hop aboard a flying squirrel-like creature called a yamax. Some elevators are traditional, in a sense, while others are wooden buckets made out of wood and rope.

Using a few clues, your own deduction, imagination, and observation, you'll solve the majority of the puzzles easily. All of them are logical and unique in nature, fitting nicely into the story. You'll need to find keys, combinations to locks, parts of bio-puzzles and objects for the characters. Be warned, though, there are sound and color puzzles which may prove troublesome for impaired gamers.

Graphics are nice, but not exceptional. Nothing that will take you aback or gasp in awe, for instance. In one or two spots, I thought someone was shooting spears at me! Actually, graphics glitches were occurring - like rips in the "fabric" of the background. Music is hardly noticable in the background and there are few sound effects.

The Bad

The ancient tree dwelling is a dark, confusing maze. Walking through various gates, you'll find buckets, ropes and wooden walkways to take you to other branched levels .. and outside locations (beaches, waterways and pastures). Unfortunately you must use those pathways often in the game, and navigation through this dark area is more unpleasant than not (although you do eventually learn where each fork leads). This entire section felt added in just to make location-finding more difficult.

The evil Balial faction could have been any evil race, so I guess that they named this game Crystal Key II hoping to bank upon the sales success of the first game. True, the history of it all unfolds during the story, but the company lines lead you to believe that you'll need that key. In actuality, the crystal key itself is never mentioned, and keys you find don't appear to be crystal at all.

The Bottom Line

Crystal Key II is nothing at all like the first game - which is a good thing. The designers made this one easy to play as well as nice to look at. It has a somewhat unique "save the world" plot, diverse easy-to-medium puzzles, interesting locations and people.

Overall, I liked it. Unfortunately, depending upon whether you use a help guide or not, it may only take you a weekend to finish.