Written by  :  Steve Hall (355)
Written on  :  Aug 29, 2000
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars

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A complete world in a box, and the freedom to do what you want.

The Good

This game is big. Really, really big. Perhaps a little too big...

There appears to be infinite possibilities in this game. The only problem is that there is just not enough time to explore more than a fraction of what goes on here. A complete world is mapped before you, and you can go anywhere. A dozen countries each with a culture of their own, hundreds of towns and villages and spralling cities. Dungeons, tombs, crypts and castles litter the countryside. So many, you are spolied for choice.

The game's character system is easily the best around. There is a huge scope for character creation. including the inclusion of negative and positive character aspects which allows for the closest thing to real role-playing you'll find in a game. Any character you can imagine can be created. The skills-based system is wonderful. For the first time a game dares to break the level-based mold, and it does it *so* well. Practice a skill and you will get better at it. Want to be better runner? Run everywhere you go. Practice your climbing on nearby buildings, and jump around alot - you're skills will increase. Brilliant.

There are some wonderful touches. Buy yourself a cart, park it outside a dungeon. Everytime your inventory is full in your sweep through the dungeon, take it back to the entrance and dump it in the cart. When your cart is full, take it back to town and sell the contents for a fortune. Enough to buy a house, perhaps? Go ahead. Buy a house. You can if you want to. You could also buy a ship to sail around the lands.

I would like to comment on the creative and compelling storyline, but I didn't actually see it much. There is a deeper purpose to the game, but with so many side-quests and exploring to do, it's very easy to forget that this game actually has a purpose.

The Bad

It is bugged. Badly, badly bugged. But, there are always patches...

The worst parts of this game are the dungeons. They're horrible. I was always told that any dungeons should have a purpose - why is it here? who built it?. In this game, all the dungeons are obviously built by a complete psycho intent on ruining your day, and spoiling a damn fine game. The corridors appear endless, a myriad of twists and turns leading nowhere. And don't say "Ah... a labyrinth." Are you trying to tell me that every single dungeon is a labyrinth? Every single one? I don't think so! Additionally, all the dungeons look the same. There are whole sections which are just dropped in, duplicated across mnay seperate dungeons.

The game is perhaps a little too large, with little cohesion. It is very easy to lose the main plot of the story and find yourself on a personal quest for fame and fortune. Not a bad thing in its own right, but it doesn't take long before you realise that the main game has gone, and you are in a situation with no apparent ending. A bit like real life, I guess.

There's something which amuses me. With a horse and cart it is still possible to climb walls, hence you can be ride along city walls and rooftops with your cart behind you. Let's call it a 'feature', shall we?

This game is magnificent in so many ways, but I just got bored and frustated with it too quickly.

The Bottom Line

As a game, this is magnificent. A huge, rolling adventure allied to the best RPG system available. It's just a little too serious to be fun.