Written by  :  Patrick Mills (73)
Written on  :  Jan 06, 2000
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

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The best game I have ever played to date.

The Good

Sometimes games can transcend the medium and rise above the level of a pastime relegated to spotty teenagers. This is one of those times.

I am not one to award the title "great" to anything, and only on a few occasions before now have I declared anything the "best" of its type.

But this is the best game I have ever played to date. If this game's contemporary, Ultima 9: Ascension, tells future designers how to make an engrossing 3D world simulation, this game tells designs how to craft a story that is best suited to the medium.

For one, unlike many games of the genre the characters that can adventure with you are crafted -with- the story, not written in to function as pack-mules or combat satellites. When something happens in the game, chances are one of your companions has something to say about it ranging from helpful advice to wry commentary on the unfolding situation. Your companions will continue to play a role in the story even after they have joined the party, quite rare for a game of this type. It works so well it makes me wonder why it isn't done more often.

This is the only game I have seen to this day that differentiates between a honest-to-god threat and bluff, and vow between a lie. Not only to words have meaning, so do the meaning behind those words. On a similar note this game possesses some of the best written dialogue I have seen anywhere, not since Ultima 7 has even the most inconsequential character been so well written.

Some AD&D purists might not like the fact that the game plays pretty fast and loose with the rules. Maybe they would be happier with Baldur's Gate, in my opinion the most overrated game in the last few years. In P:T the rules serve as a backdrop, not a backbone. In that way this game, though single-player only, feels more like a good pen&paper session with an experienced DM than any CRPG I have ever played.

The Bad

The manual is justifiably skimpy on details about the game setting and historical information. Considering your character plays an amnesiac it would be inappropriate to include a Planescape Campaign handbook with the game. However, the manual is absent of any information regarding the way the rules work, considering that the game is based on the AD&D ruleset this seems almost unforgivable. While the game is still playable without understanding what your THACO actually means, it does detract in minor ways from the playability.

The interface is a little clunky, though I did get used to it soon enough and it never really hindered gameplay.

In the unpatched version of the game there are a few minor dialogue bugs involving the improper resetting of conversation trees, but no plot stoppers to speak of. One technical issue that does deserve mention is that when the game has been running for more than a few errors most players experience a game-killing slowdown. Although there are a number of temporary fixes for the issue the only real way to get around it is by saving and restarting the computer. Annoying, but infrequent enough that it is only that, an annoyance. At the time of this writing there is no patch to correct this issue, but Black Isle Studios has promised that one is forthcoming.

The Bottom Line

An excellent adaptation of the TSR Planescape Multiverse and a wonderful example of how to tell a story with an interactive medium.

To speak too much of the story itself would be a crime, suffice to say that your character awakes on a slab in a Mortuary in a strange city with no memory to speak of. From there he embarks on a quest to discover himself and learns about the nature of man.