|Avarice: The Final Saga||- by Christopher B. Wright|
Some of the best games in the world were played then.
One of the most innovative game creators of the time was a company named "Infocom." Infocom's games would probably make most of you snicker today, because they were all text-based. They refused (and refused loudly and insistently) to add graphics to their games because they felt, basically, that you could get a higher resolution picture and better color depth with your mind than with a meager VGA card.
Unfortunately, this type of game fell by the wayside, victim to flashier, less complicated games.
Then there was Myst, which brought graphics in games to an entirely new level. Myst's beautifully ray-traced scenes "upped the ante" in the gaming world, and a bunch of Myst imitators came on the scene overnight.
Stardock's latest game offering is called Avarice: The Final Saga. Designed by Continuous Software Systems and released by Stardock, it has been billed as the "Myst Killer" for OS/2.
Basically, it seems Stardock and CSS decided to "Out-Myst" Myst -- which, in my opinion, is a shame, because they've actually done something better and they're not talking about it. Resurrecting the spirit of Infocom, they've created a graphical game that plays like a well written text game: in other words, they've created a game that can do just about anything.
Once you've finished the installation, you can begin playing immediately, no rebooting is needed.
Solving this mystery requires that you solve a lot of smaller mysteries first. For example, you need to figure out how to get around the house (which is very, very large). You need to get into locked doors, work strange machines, and find tantalizing (and obscure) clues your eccentric uncle has left behind in unlikely places.
Complicating this effort is the presence of three other people on the island who have received the same letter. They're trying to solve the mystery as well... will they help you, or try to beat you to the punch? You don't know, and worst of all, in Avarice they move with minds of their own. They can find objects, pick them up, and walk away with them (even ones you need to solve the game). You can talk to them, perhaps even learn things from them, but can you trust them? You don't know.
They aren't the only characters you'll meet, though. You'll also find your Uncle's butler walking around. He can be very helpful at times, but can you trust him completely either? And of course, your Uncle could be hanging out somewhere, if only you could find him...
The lower resolution graphics are OK, but Avarice is very easy on the eyes at the highest graphics setting. Everything in the game is incredibly detailed -- polished marble floors reflect the walls (JPG, 43K), pictures on the wall show distinct images, even in passing. The perspectives are done very well, giving it a realistic 3-D feel.
The only thing you need to play this game is a mouse. The nice thing about using the mouse is that it can cue you as to what actions you can perform. If you see the mouse pointer turn into a pair of eyes looking down, clicking on the mouse will let you look down. If the mouse pointer is an arrow, you can move in the direction it is pointing (you can even back up). And if the mouse pointer is a target sight, whatever it's resting on is an object and you can "do stuff" with it. Pressing the secondary mouse button will cause a list of choices to pop-up on the screen, telling you what "stuff" you can "do" to the object.
Most of the time, the choices are pretty generic; you can look, examine, move up to, get, etc. However, some objects have specific things you can do to them. For example, if you are holding an orange, you can do orange-related things: you can peel the orange, break the orange apart, and eat the orange. This is one of the neatest aspects of the game, and one of the things that reminded me of the old Infocom text games. You can do just about anything with an object that you could do in real life.
As mentioned, you'll run into a few other characters (JPG, 8.6K) in the game. Talking to a non-player character (NPC) in Avarice is a lot like talking to an NPC in one of the "Ultima" games from origin: when you decide to talk to an NPC, you are given a list of things you can say. You click on one with your mouse, and the NPC's response is displayed. You continue doing this until you no longer wish to speak, or you run out of things to say.
This is not the most intricate or realistic way to simulate a conversation, but it works very well and adds spice to the game. My only complaint is that there seems to be a limited number of things you can say to an NPC before there is nothing left to talk about. I assume this changes when you find out more information that an NPC might be able to flesh out for you (but this hasn't happened for me yet).
I would also like a musical score to be added to the game. The lack of music is somewhat disconcerting, and a spooky, dark background score would add to the atmosphere tremendously.
Avarice is a neat, spooky, high-quality game. I strongly recommend it.
32 M Ram
Creative Labs 32 PNP Sound Blaster
Warp Connect Blue, FP 22
Goldstar 6x CD-ROM
Matrix Millennium 4mb WRAM PCI card, 1280x1024 w/ 16M
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Copyright © 1996 - Falcon Networking