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The Temple of Elemental Evil: A Classic Greyhawk Adventure (Windows)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
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Written by  :  Tennessee Ernie Ford (15)
Written on  :  May 05, 2004
Rating  :  3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars

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Summary

Passes the time well, but won't be your favorite cRPG.

The Good

Despite all the flaws (and yes, I'm afraid most reviewers are mostly right: there are plenty), I found ToEE an addictive dungeon crawler. Imagine Diablo slowed down to a turn-based crawl...and turn back the graphics a few years. The monsters will often try your favorite cRPG tactics back on you: archers will move to the corners, avoiding getting caught in your fireballs; enemy "tanks" will close on your weakest party members; "infantry" will flank you to deal more damage. Plenty of bosses and huge assault teams make combat my favorite part of the game.

ToEE does a journeyman's job of putting the 'R' back in cPRGs: your party's starting alignment affects nearly everything you do in the game...and you can't play nice with everyone; you must make choices. (Of course, you're limited by the draconian AD&D rule set, but some people like that.)

Finally, there a couple of nice Troika-like touches: the male NPC who sings his way into combat, the female NPC who's a real battle axe, ...

The Bad

Like the original Gary Gygax module after which it was named, ToEE has plenty of dungeon spelunking and combat...and little else. If you don't know AD&D rules inside & out, you'll want to restart your party 4-5 times before you figure out key survival skills. You'll want to create your own party, rather than bother with NPCs for more reasons than in Baldur's Gate (annoying dialog, 'theft' of your loot, inconsistent alliance with your team).

And, although I didn't encounter any show stopping bugs and although most bug reports I've seen turned out to be have user-error or misunderstanding of ToEE's interpretation of AD&D, there are still too many bugs requiring work-arounds.

The Bottom Line

I think AD&D was great...on paper, but its rules were developed to support people without personal PCs. I prefer games that take advantage of the computer to allow new gaming systems (Morrowind, Wizardry, Diablo) rather than those that try to recreate the arcane system of AD&D.

All the more surprising to me, then, that I really liked playing ToEE.

I'm not sure if it was the smaller world...or mondo monster battles...or limited item set that forced you to be careful about party composition and development.

ToEE is a good way to pass the time between other games. It won't be your favorite cRPG, but then it doesn't need to be.