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SummaryOne of the Top 3 best Sierra games of alllllll tiiiimmmeeee.
The GoodIf you ever need to roll out an example of why text parsers are cool and how graphics do not make the game, this is the title that should immediately come to mind. Actually, even if you don't, just thinking of General Coolness (as opposed to the lesser-ranked Major Disaster) alone should bring up thoughts of this game. This is really the Arena/Daggerfall of it's time (save for the lack of various game crashing bugs). It has a huge playing area, and it also puts out an honest attempt at creating a living, breathing city and country-side...amazing for it time. And it's really as good as the sum of its parts. Allow me to go into more detail...
The first thing that crosses my mind, in regards to the (many) good points that this game possess, is the scale of the thing. The City of Shapeir is conceived in an impressive manner. Not only does it have vendors and important characters that move around the city from day to day, but it has a variety of lovely townspeople who you can spot wandering around town adding little bits of detail. And while it does have a mostly featureless "infinite" desert in the style of King's Quest V, it's desert is superior based solely on the fact that it's better executed here, and is not as dry (ahem) as KQ5's.
Also on hand are scores of memorable characters. While most of the characters in the first game of the series are totally forgettable, the ones in this game are for the most part well defined. Besides the welcome return of Erasmus and his familiar Fenrus for a brief section of the game, you have (by means of example) Dinarzad, the naughty moneychanger who has a job on the side, and Shameen, a previously dull Katta from the previous game who now as a very interesting and distinct personality (specifically, he's ultra-polite and bugs you constantly about events at the tavern). Not to mention Shema, Ad-Avis, Omar The Poet, The Dervish, Keapon Laffin, Uhura, Ali Chica, Ali Fakir, Harik Attar, Rakeesh, Issur, Aziza, Abdulla Doo, Khaveen, Signor Ferrari, Zayishah...among others. In a way, this game highlights the utility of the text parser. You can have a limited form of conversation with them on various subjects. Amazing, especially considering this was made in the VERY early 1990's.
The other features this game touts are not as impressive, but are still quite good. It has very well done EGA graphics, perhaps the best use of EGA in any of Sierra's games. It also has SoundBlaster support, and the FM music is of a high quality, though none of it is particularly memorable. The combat system is an improvement over my earlier experience with Quest for Glory 1 VGA Edition. I much prefer to cast spells with the text parser than to fool around with a stupid menu. One last note here: I like the ability to import and export your character to the other games in the series. A lot.
The BadEventually you'll die and you won't be able to play it anymore.
And I would have liked it to have an estimated completion time of 8760 hours (one year). They could have added a few hundred extra sidequests.