Written by  :  Jacques Guy (55)
Written on  :  Apr 12, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  0.67 Stars0.67 Stars0.67 Stars0.67 Stars0.67 Stars

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RPG as in "Really Poor Gaming"

The Good

The installation screens and background music

The Bad

All the rest

The Bottom Line

You slip the CD in the drive, the installation screen fires up, you are treated to stunning graphics and fine Celtic music, it all bodes well. The installation will take a while, grab a beer. Or a cup of coffee. Being right out of bubble gum and whisky I settled for a beer. Ready? Go. I picked "Campaign" since it starts with a tutorial. So there I am, Prince John, greeted by a bent old wizard, and soon off I go to claim what's rightfully mine, the usual story. Wolves, though. Still with the mellifluous sound of the Celtic harp in his ears, Prince John does not mind too much. Bashing wolves is good training for a start isn't it? Prince John soon learns that he cannot take on all those wolves without taking a break to restore his hit points. There are two ways to do that: stand in a patch of magic mushrooms (easy to spot: they glow blue), or hit the sack and have a good shut-eye. Prince John also soon learns that he cannot hit the sack unless his hit points need replenishing. No way. You 100% hale and sound, Johnny boy? Stay awake then, old trout. The poor fellow then remembers how, in a former life, as the Avatar roaming the fair lands of Lord British, he carried a bedroll in his backpack, and was allowed to sleep when he wanted. Like, man, at night. Iolo and Sparks even kept watch over him. Ah, for those Halcyon days!

Travel at night is seldom advisable but tough hey, Prince John, just carry on walking my good Sire, like it or not. Oh, you can always crack another beer, read the paper, watch Bugs Bunny, and hope that when you're back at your computer screen it will be daytime, and no roaming wolves have mistaken you for their favourite dinner. So you battle wolves, get hurt, retreat, sleep, wake up, battle wolves, get hurt... you get the picture. And every time you wake up you get treated to Prince John whingeing about how much more comfortable his royal four-poster bed was. Once is fun, twice OK, but after the tenth wolf you feel like feeding the miserable sap to the eleventh. To be fair though, you do get to battle a couple of bears when a beekeeper asks for your help.

By and by, Prince John gets to escort a snotty-nosed kid and his three cows to a pasture south-east of some village. Wolves of course get in the way. After having turned a baker's dozen of them into pet food, John gets a bit bored, and returns to the village for some shut-eye. Wake up John. Uh? Where's the kid? Where are the cows? Search wherever you may, you don't find them. They've gone AWOL. Have they really? How can you continue with the tutorial? You can't, John, unless you find the brat and his cows. In other words: you're stuffed, my beauty. Quit. Do you really want to exit? You bet your sweet fundament I do.

Back to his real self, ex-Prince John picks the RPG option. I'm an archer now. Why not? I could have been... whatever, but I sure wasn't going to spend Xmas, New Year's Eve, Easter, and Bastille Day dithering about what to be.

I lasted the whole of... oh perhaps 30 seconds as an archer. No, no, no, not fried by a passing dragon. Just the first fellow I met. A prepothterouth lithping dialogue ensued, which made both of us sound like perfect cretins. Quit. Do you really...? You bet I do. And uninstall too.

There was a third option, which by the sound of it is some WarCraft clone. Why bother when I can play the real WarCraft?

Oh sure, nice graphics, sort of. Much of a Baldur's Gate look-alike, really. And you do get to watch fish swimming in the rivers, birds flying in the sky, and so on. Why, if you have a super-duper Radeon card, you can even have them cast shadows. For just a few hundred bucks, wotta bargain! Wow! Zowie! Yummy yummy goody gum drops!

Final score.

Graphics. Zero. Yes, zero. It's just stupid eye candy that brings nothing to the gameplay. Wanna watch fish swimming? Get off your chair and go to a real river. Or buy yourself a fish bowl and a couple of goldfish.

Gameplay. Minus one. Because I don't like being taken for an imbecile.

Replay value. You must be joking.