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Gameplay

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  Graphics

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Publisher: Spiderweb Software    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version    RAM: 30 MB    Hard Disk: 30 MB    Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit


Geneforge 2
September 24, 2003 | Ken Newquist
Pages:123


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The interface is straight forward, with most actions accessible through one of the dozen-odd buttons lining the bottom of the screen. Inventory is maintained in one long list, and while I would like to see some sort of sack to store lesser-used items in, the lack of such a tool isn't a major flaw. The screen's PC/NPC box can hold up to eight party members and contains status indicators for each character's remaining health, essence and number of actions. Hot key commands abound, but learning them can require some digging through the in-game documentation.

One aspect of the game I disliked were the constant runs back to town to rest. There's no way to naturally recover health and essence in the field and while there are a few magic items that can reinvigorate both characteristics, they cost gold. The run back to town isn't a major chore, but it can get annoying when exploring areas crawling with particularly tough monsters. I'd rather have taken my chances sleeping outdoors with a chance of a random encounter.

Graphics
Like the rest of Spiderweb Software's releases, Geneforge 2 makes use of graphics that are far from spectacular and are significantly behind even older titles like Baldur's Gate. That said, they are adequate for the job at hand, and have obviously allowed the designers to spend their time building up the role-playing experience.

There are a few times though, when the game's generic graphics are problematic. First, magical items look identical to their mundane counterparts, which can make browsing through a long inventory list a pain. Second, the various NPCs and monsters tend to pull from a small pool of graphics. With NPCs, this isn't that much of a problem because they generally appear in their own separate areas. With monsters, especially specific monsters that players are looking for, it can be frustrating. Finally, it would also have been nice if there had been differences between run-of-the-mill monsters and their much nastier evolved brothers. It wouldn't have taken much -- a slight change in color or increase in model size would have been enough.

Sounds
Geneforge's soundtrack is under whelming. Aside from a brief score that plays when the game loads, there is no soundtrack to speak off. Instead there are numerous, but repetitive, ambient sounds: the sound of picking up a suit of armor, a light wind blowing, of swords striking flesh, or birds (or some other creature) chirping somewhere in the forsaken land surrounding Drypeak.

For veterans of other RPGs, the lack of theme music may be disconcerting, especially at 1 a.m. after a long playing jag, when they suddenly realize just how quiet their houses are. The game play is engaging enough that most players probably won't notice the quiet, and those who do can do what I did: load up The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack in iTunes and press on the assault until 3 a.m.

Value
It's hard to argue with the value of this game. For $25 players get a huge world to explore and -- thanks to the intricacies of the game's plot -- re-explore. It's a real find for any player who's ever bought a $50 game and then abandoned it a few days later after finding that its stunning graphics and jaw-dropping movies were little more than a spectacular facade for non-existent game play.



Geneforge 2
Publisher: Spiderweb Software
Download Geneforge 2 Demo


Pages:123




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