|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.4 Hard Disk: 200 MB Graphics: 1024x768|
Modern RPGs tend to come in only a few flavors. There's the big-budget RPG with immersive environments and lots of action, there's the console RPG where everyone dresses up in weird, but highly detailed outfits, and there's the classic RPG with slightly dated graphics, a solid story, and straightforward mechanics. Avernum 5 is most definitely a classic RPG.
Avernum 5's story is pretty good. It doesn't have the same level of branching as the recent entries in the Geneforge series, but you can still make at least one major choice that will change what you do, if not where you do it. There are dozens of side quests, a lengthy main plot, and a very difficult array of dungeons to keep you busy no matter which side you choose.
The entire game takes place in a series of underground caves that will be very familiar to anyone who has played any of the previous titles. Is is played from a different point of view from the previous four Avernum games, the point of view of a soldier of the Empire. This doesn't really change what you're doing throughout the game, but it does give a pretty interesting perspective on what has been going on. In the previous games, the Empire was painted as an evil dictatorship that couldn't be trusted. In this game, it's painted as more of a benevolent dictatorship where everyone but the ruler and your characters still seem to hate Avernum. However, Avernum obviously hates you right back.
This leads to your party having to spend a large amount of time keeping mayors happy by killing bosses and various large masses of evil monsters. It's pretty standard RPG fare, and is still just as entertaining as it's always been. However, if you don't like reading pages of text, you can easily just skip through all the plot sequences and use your quest log to figure out where to go and what to kill next. Most RPGs forget this essential piece of the experience and are painful to play for that very reason.
The gameplay hasn't changed significantly from the first games of the Avernum series. The spell list has remained relatively static, the slightly overpowered traits like divinely touched are still there, and there's still nothing like playing through the entire game with one character on intense. There are numerous bosses with unique weaknesses, like one boss that can only be killed by confused minions, and the terrain lends itself to a lot of strategy. You'll often find that certain bosses are impossible unless taken with careful consideration towards your surroundings.
However, there are a few areas early on that can easily make the rest of the game extremely easy. The first that comes to mind is a nephilim training zone that holds three ceremonial artifacts. It may seem that it's impossible to remove them from the area, but given a little hara kiri, it's easy to walk away with them. They're easily the most effective items you'll find for the rest of the game, so you tend to bulldoze through everything in your path from that point on. There's also a slightly difficult dungeon focusing around slith cultists which holds a vastly overpowered spear. You can go through it without too much trouble so long as you make sure to take the enemies in smaller groups.
The sound, graphics, and music hasn't changed much at all since Avernum 4, so you'll either find it reassuringly familiar or very bland. The sprites seem to be copied directly from the previous games, with even a few sprites from Geneforge making an appearance. Everything is still visibly based around a grid, and it isn't particularly amazing on the sound or music side. However, everything does fit together in a way that makes sense. It may not be gorgeous, but it doesn't look or sound that bad either.
Overall, Avernum 5 is a solid continuation of the Avernum series. If you're looking for another RPG fix or are a fan of the other games released by Spiderweb Software, Avernum 5 is a must buy. At the low price of $20, its 30+ hours of play are easily worth the price.
Pros• Detailed storyline
• Long length
• Strategic fight system
Cons• Low-budget graphics
• Text-heavy dialogue sequences