User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Syberia (Windows)

82
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  kbmb (399)
Written on  :  Jan 01, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by kbmb
read more reviews for this game

Summary

Another otherwise creative game flawed by ridiculous and unlikely "adventuring".

The Good

The graphics are beautiful. I wish there was a way I could just sit back and watch a slide show of all the scenes in the game. They are some of the best I've ever seen, and the ambient sounds that went with it were just amazing. Almost immediately I was immersed in the atmosphere of this game.

Character models look great. A real improvement over past recent adventure games.

The cutscenes are also very beautiful. You even get to go back and watch them again on the main menu, which is something I did a few times.

The Bad

Allright, the story isn't that bad, and the cutscenes and in-game graphics are beautiful, but like many other recent adventure games, this game's biggest flaw is the completely unlikely method of completing puzzles and getting anywhere in the game. The story is something like, you find out that this company that you're trying to buy (or rather, a company you represent is buying this company) belongs to an heir that everyone thinks is dead (and the reason why is so mind-baffling stupid), so you must go find him and convince him to let you buy the company.

Well, that sounds like a nice adventure detective-type game. Now, if you were a lawyer trying to track down this heir, what would you do? Would you break into churches and rummage through peoples' dressers and dig up caskets and steal a train? Well that's pretty much this lawyer's method of "puzzle-solving".

That was by far the most annoying aspect of the game. And since there's no way around it (for God's sake, she's carrying around a cell phone! USE IT, WOMAN!) that's just what you have to do. But there are other, more minor parts of the game that I found to be annoying. Like some of the voice acting. This "Mumu" kid pisses me off. Whoever voiced him (or wrote his dialogue) should be smacked.

One part of the game REQUIRES you to draw a picture of a mammoth for this Mumu kid. Now, you have paper, you have a pen, why don't you just draw it? No, apparently you've never SEEN a mammoth, so you have to go find a picture of one. Didn't see the barely-visible picture of the mammoth on the wall? Well, you can't go any farther in the game until you see it so you can sketch it. I think I spent three days just wandering around every single part of the town looking for a way to go on with the game. I finally resorted to using a walkthru and discovered that there was this picture of a mammoth on the wall of an attic...I didn't see it when I was up there.

Now, some people might have seen it. I could have just been blind. But my point is, a lot of the puzzles in the game require you to have eagle eyes, to be able to scrutinize every single inch of the game for anything that you might have to use later. I play adventure games because, to me, they're like an "interactive movie". But I don't remember seeing any movies where the main character spends the entire show on his hands and knees on the dirt road searching for any sort of pebble that might be out of place.

The Bottom Line

I'd say, pick it up just for the incredible graphics. But for God's sake, can't they make an adventure game that requires you to do realistic things and complete puzzles that don't involve such mind-numbling scrutiny?