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SummaryHeaven's Gate: The Computer Game
The GoodWell, it has an impressive initial impact. For a few minutes it seems as if you have been dropped into a deep, interactive world which you can explore at your leisure; the environments are very attractive, using smooth voxels, whilst the sound and music are professionally done and, in the latter case, expensive. Indeed this game reeks of money and talent, and like many expensive collections of expertise it is absolutely hollow inside.
The BadAs explained quite well in some of the other reviews, the actual gameplay is dreadful, dated, linear, uninvolving. Each level involves running up to a character, listening to a dull conversation, running elsewhere to pick up three or four objects, running to a second character in order to repair the objects, running to a third character in order to find the location of a fourth object, running to the fourth object, running to the second character to find the new location of the first character, running to the first character to hand him 'object Z', at which point he tells you that you need to locate character X in order to embark on a very similar quest. The whole game is nakedly a modular series of looping flowcharts, with no enjoyment at all.
The 'sci-fi' angle involves taking a bunch of quasi middle-eastern characterisations and environments, renaming everything (so that instead of locating Farmer Giles and asking him for a pair of 'scissors' you have to locate Qu'loth and ask him for his 'maarg', or his 'tarrn', or his 'tazmak'), and little else. The game is thus very, very complex but utterly shallow, indeed it is meaningless, impossible to relate to or feel anything for. It reminds me a great deal with 'X: Beyond the Frontier' in that respect; attractive, quality stuff, no game.
The Bottom LineThe nightmare is that this game showed enormous promise. Each level is like a functioning city/village, although sadly not loose enough for you to simply wander around, playing with things. If it had been married to some kind of RPG it would have been excellent, but it isn't, the game itself is no more advanced than a simple Sinclair Spectrum arcade adventure.
I could feel my initial intrigue - the game is very, very attractive - wearing off, until by the second level I was playing it out of sheer bloodymindedness. Again, this reminds me of 'X: Beyond the Frontier' and, oddly, 'Serious Sam', another game which had promise but ran out of ideas very quickly. If only...