Saturday, January 24, 2004

Siege of Avalon Anthology (PC)

Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good plot and storyline. Like playing a book
Cons: Fairly linear, and often tedious

I always search through the low cost game section when I go to Wal-Mart, and usually pick up a game or two to try out. This was one of them. With one glance at the back of the package, it appears to be nothing more than a Diablo clone.. and actually that's about all it is, except for the fact that it has much more of a plot and a much better story line than Diablo has.

The storyline of Siege of Avalon is really great. Playing this game is more like playing through a book. While this helps the plot out a great deal, it forces the game to be fairly linear. You are unable to really go off and explore most areas of the game until you have finished the previous areas. This is both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, it helps you to know where to go next, as the later parts of the game are locked out; but on the other hand, if you get stuck somewhere, you can't just skip over it and possibly come back later... you are just stuck there until you figure it out.

Some parts of this game are rather difficult to figure out too. I guess this is a good thing, as long as you do not get frustrated by it. Some parts also get rather tedious, like hunting down every single Sha'ahoul (the enemy creatures) in the surrounding village for chapter 1. I remember walking through the village areas over and over again, searching for the last few remaining Sha'ahoul. It was rather irritating, considering how many times I had to walk around in the same place until I finally stumbled upon them (and the village isn't even that big).

There are a few quests thrown in around the game as well. The quests range from killing a few spider-type creatures in the kitchen cellar, to tracking down a horde of steel bars beneath a Sha'ahoul controlled village. The quests give you points, which can be used to increase your character's stats. This system is used instead of 'experience points' and 'gaining levels' in Siege of Avalon. I think it is a welcome change from the standard.

There are only 3 different character classes to chose from; a fighter, scout, or mage. This was a bit disappointing, but upon further thought.. what other classes do you really need anyway? The variety of equipment available is quite nice... your character's appearance changes to reflect any new items you have equipped him with.

I do not know quite where to classify Siege of Avalon as a game. It has elements of a nice role playing game, while maintaining aspects of a good adventure game at the same time. Yet, it still manages to play more like a book. Go figure.

The 3/4 character view lets you see enough of the surrounding area that you can maneuver, while still showing off the games 3D rendered graphics. The movie scenes leave something to be desired, but the are sufficient enough to get the job done. With the storyline this game has, it don't really need the movie scenes anyway.

The background music is average, not really bothersome, but at the same time not really necessary, and the sound effects are rather meek. Sometimes I get the feeling I am playing an old Super Nintendo game instead.

The detailed 3D graphics in this game are slightly above average, and the system requirements do not suffer much from them either. A 500MHz Pentium II with 69MB of RAM is all that is required to run Siege of Avalon under Windows 98/ME, or 128MB of RAM for Windows XP. 750MB of free hard drive space to hold the game, an 8x CD-Rom, mouse and sound card top off the requirements. Nearly everyone can meet those requirements today.

A full PDF manual is included on the CD. This seems to be common with most low-cost games, as it cuts down the cost of printing out the manual, and thus makes the games more affordable.

If you like games such as Diablo, Darkstone, or even some of the old Ultima games, then you will probably also like Siege of Avalon.

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