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Written by  :  Colin Rowsell (45)
Written on  :  May 20, 2002
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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The most eclectic and interesting of the series

The Good

Zork: The Underground Empire shows its long gestation period on seventies mainframes. Unlike the two immediate sequels, Z:TUG is wildly eclectic and rambling, with very little overall structure. Surprisingly, this is to its advantage. From the famous opening, down into the passages, through some nastily ingenious puzzles to the final confrontation, Z:TUG retains a strange, compressed energy. Completing it is extremely satisfying, and for years being able to say "I finished Zork" was a badge of merit in gaming circles.

The Bad

The problems with Zork are really only those of text adventures as a whole. The puzzles are frustrating, it's possible to be stuck at four or five different points simultaneously, and gamers used to such extravagances as "graphics" and "sound" may find this blast from the past annoying and pointless.

The Bottom Line

Zork is both an excellent introduction to text adventuring and a piece of computer-history royalty in its own right. Despite the myriad other Infocom releases, and the release of two immediate sequels, Zork has a flavour and excitement all its own.