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The Dig (DOS)

83
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37847)
Written on  :  Mar 03, 2005
Platform  :  DOS

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Summary

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The Good

LucasArts was considered the king of adventure games in the nineties, and when they were able to create superb adventure games like The Dig, I can see why. The Dig was going to start off as a fantasy sci-fi movie, but for some reason, this was dropped in favor of an adventure game. Three people, Boston Low, Maggie Robbins, and Ludger Brink, have been asked to go up to the "Attila" asteroid which is on a collision course with Earth, and set explosives off its surface to make it change course. During their mission, they also have to report to their bosses, Ken Borden and Cora Miles, that the explosives are set and that they are returning to HQ. Low, Robbins, and Brink all end up being stranded on an alien planet. When Low asks Bordon for help, he finds out that he is out of range. The three of them have to make do by exploring this planet fully in order to complete their priority task: find a way home.

You control Boston, who happens to be the leader of the expedition, with both Brink and Robbins following you to see what you are doing and make sure that you are doing nothing wrong. But eventually, both of your fellow characters go their own separate ways, and it is up to you to explore the planet fully, as well as performing actions that make parts of its islands functional. And like any group of people should do when they decide to split, you can use your little PenUltimate’ walkie-talkie to contact them about your discoveries, and they may either engage in conversation or help you further based on what they find out on their own.

Don't expect the nine actions used in Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max Hit the Road, with names like PICK UP, TALK TO, and LOOK AT, to be present here. Instead, you control a mouse cursor which can be used to walk around, as well as speaking to people and pushing/pulling objects and manipulating them. You also have an inventory icon, which you can use to access your inventory, with forty spaces used to store objects that you pick up along the way. This interface approach, similar to Full Throttle before it, makes the screen less cluttered and makes extra space for more graphics, rather than having them all squishy like Lucas's earlier adventure games. Ages ago, I saw an article about The Dig with a screenshot that included the nine-action interface, and it looked rather good. Honestly, I have no idea why Lucas decided to scrapped this in the end.

Sometimes an area is highlighted when you drag your mouse over it, meaning that you can walk to yet another scene in the game. When you click the mouse button, Low will walk there. Click it again, and you will immediately arrive there. You don't have to wait for Low to arrive there. This is a nifty feature that is not present in other adventure games.

When you strike up a conversation with someone that you come across, you will see the conversation bar which lists a series of icons, which when clicked, strike up conversations about nothing or about things that you have already discovered earlier. You can keep clicking on the same icon to get different conversations until the icon is in its "pressed down" state, meaning that the last conversation is repeated when you click the icon in this state. The graphics used for these icons are a lot more colorful than the icons used in Sam & Max

Speaking of graphics, nearly all the backgrounds used for each scene are the best that I have ever seen in a LucasArts adventure game, starting from the surface of the planet and ending with its beaches. Sometimes, it makes me wish that I was on the planet where I can do whatever I like, whenever I like, and however I like, without any dangerous objects that I would be able to pick up and manipulate.

The games uses a lot of FMV sequences, and if you look in the /DIG subdirectory on the CD, you'll find that most of them are .SAN files, that you cannot open. Occasionally, you will watch these when you perform specific actions like activating a machine or trying to communicate with an alien creature. Some of these sequences are quite interesting, and sometimes reflect the personality change of each of your colleague. For example, in some FMV sequences, the change in Brink's behavior once the lethal life crystals, found around the planet, control him is portrayed, and these are quite interesting to watch.

The music in The Dig reflects that found in many fantasy sci-fi movies, and the sound effects are much better than those used in many games that I have played long before this one. The sound effects in the game are ambient and are much more realistic. An example includes the walking sounds that can be heard while Low walks around the nexus.

The voice acting is top-notch. Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The X-Files) provides the voice of Boston Low, your average space guy who tries to be cool toward several species that he encounters. Low is the main character who says those sort of things that the same characters in other movies talk like. The voices for Brink and Robbins are also good, with Robbins playing the innocent gal who spends a lot of time doing research, and Brink, the german professor who becomes more aggressive after those life crystals resurrected him as a clone, and doesn't even give a damn about his fellow members.

The Bad

Adventure gamers who brought The Dig, and expect it to be free of puzzles will be disappointed, as there are actually many puzzles that you have to solve in order to open some kind of door or activate a piece of machinery, and these puzzles are quite hard. I can remember trying to repair a broken light bridge for ages. And earlier, I had trouble reconstructing a creature by putting all its bones together. I thought that I did it right, but the game doesn't tell you that the task had been accomplished.

The Bottom Line

It looks like LucasArts went to a great deal at making this amazing adventure game. This is demonstrated by the great story that is carried throughout the game. The graphics are superb graphics and the sounds are excellent.

Rating: ****½