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Dragon Wars (DOS)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.6
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  anton treuenfels (37)
Written on  :  Aug 05, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

I finished it twice

The Good

The design - there's no single path to completing the game, nothing you're forced to do in order to be able to finish. One of the first tasks you're supposed to do, for instance, is find your way out of the city you start in. Well, there's at least four different ways to do it, each leading to a somewhat different game experience (eg., different NPCs with different skills will join your party). For another, there are puzzles scattered throughout the game, but you don't have to solve every one in order to win (good, because some I never did - probably didn't have the NPC with the proper skill).

The size - this is a big game. I didn't visit all the locations the first time through. The second time through was very different from the first time - not a completely new game, of course, but like visiting another part of the same country.

The Bad

The manual - some parts of the plot are advanced by reading paragraphs in the manual. These contain vital information you won't learn any other way. They're read only when the game instructs you to read a particular one (the paragraphs are out of order, and some of them are distractors, having nothing to do with the game, in order to discourage you from reading all of them at once). These could easily have been incorporated into the game itself, but putting them in the manual enhances copy protection - the game is almost useless without the manual. What is irksome is that something designed to protect the developers against theft for the first few weeks or months of release still hampers you years later.

The graphics - these are designed for an EGA display, and look very nice. But when I upgraded to a VGA display, the image pixels didn't blend as well as they had, and they looked worse.

The Bottom Line

As I recall this game got so-so reviews when it first came out, but it's really very good. I've played much more highly reviewed CRPG games that I've found ultimately disappointing - they look nice, but the gameplay is linear and the endgames surprisingly easy. Neither of those objections applies to this game. It's so satisfying, I was unsatisfied - I had to play it again right away!