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Written by  :  himemsys (69)
Written on  :  Jul 19, 2017
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars

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Summary

Great concept ruined by poor interface

The Good

The whole idea of the game is incredible! The story-line reminds me of a well-written episode of Star Trek:TNG. The characters are well thought out and the graphics are gorgeous for the time. The sounds and music are above average and fit well in the game's universe. The native Iskai race are very creatively brought to life.

Also, I found the combat system really well done. My preference is for turn-based combat, and Albion delivers well here. What I found odd though was how it switched back and forth between top-down and 3D perspectives. You choose your combat options in a 2D grid, then switch to first-person view to watch the battle unfold.

The Bad

Unfortunately for me, there were two issues with the game that made it difficult for me to continue playing the game after giving it about 10 hours of gameplay.

First, while I loved the initial 2D above-view perspective, when it switched to 3D first-person view in the cellar and cities, I found it extremely hard to navigate. The sense of "being there" (which is done so well in the Ultima Underworld games) is missing. For whatever reason, I could not tell perspective well in the 3D view -- I found myself turning into walls by misjudging corners, and I found myself turning completely around rather than making 90 degree turns. It just did not come across well for me. Everything was "flat" with no dimension. I personally would've preferred if the game kept the same 2D top-down perspective throughout the whole game, rather than switching between three different perspectives. Yes, there is a third perspective: in the outer world it's a top-down view from a much higher viewpoint (your characters appear much smaller onscreen). Additionally, it was confusing as to how they determined which parts of the game would be in each perspective.

Second, movement, whether in the 2D or 3D perspective, is handled by continually holding the left mouse button down. Other games that had similar type of movement (for example, Ultima VII) use the RIGHT mouse button instead. Personally, I found that holding the left button down continuously caused muscle fatigue and cramping beneath my index finger. This never happened in Ultima VII with the right mouse button and ring finger. This may have been a non-issue for me if they provided a good keyboard movement alternative. But they were very minimal in allowing only arrow key movement via keyboard. Since I had no comfortable way to move my party around through the game world, it was only a matter of time before I had to discontinue playing.

The Bottom Line

Albion is a role-playing game in a very well-written science fiction setting. It uses turn-based combat and three different views: a close-in 2D top-down perspective, a higher-up 2D top-down perspective, and a 3D first-person perspective. The game is very highly-rated and I can see why. The quality of the writing, graphics, music, and sound effects are all top notch. But for me, the interface weaknesses proved too hard to surmount and I had to discontinue play after about 10 hours. If these issues do not effect you, you may find this one of your best RPG experiences.