Review by Talonfire
"A Journey of Discovery"
In 1993 Rand and Robyn Miller at Cyan released one of the most groundbreaking adventure games of all time, Myst. Players got to travel to numerous worlds called ''ages'' to solve a dark mystery and try to find a way home. A decade and two sequels later, Cyan (Now Cyan Worlds) released it's attempt at an online adventure game known only as Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. Now that Uru live has been canned, we're left with Uru's primary single player and future expansions, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Uru is set two centuries after the events in Myst, Riven, Exile and the upcoming Myst IV: Revelation. You have had a dream and felt called to New Mexico by something you didn't understand. You must gather your wits as you journey through numerous worlds to discover the dark secrets of an ancient yet advanced civilization.
The story is not as epic as it's predecessors, it however has a philosophical meaning behind it which we can all learn something from.
There's one major difference between Uru and it's predecessors, Uru has no pre-rendered images where you click repeatedly. Instead you've got a full 3D movement system similar to that of realMyst's. A nice addition to Uru is your ''home age.'' After you finish with your trial at the Cleft, you receive your very own personal floating island in the sky age called Relto. Along your journey you will be able to find pages that allow you to customize Relto by adding a waterfall, tree logs and rocks etc. When you make a fatal error in Uru (such as falling off of a cliff) then you ''panic link'' back to Relto automatically, so Relto also serves as a safe haven. Other than that, you have the same old same old Myst style gameplay, so veterans will feel right at home, new comers will catch on quickly as well.
Most games these days have great graphics, but I haven't seen any game that can top Uru's graphical quality. Normally full 3D games lack high quality graphics (and if they don't they end up requiring really good hardware) but Uru manages to give you realistic looking graphics as well as not requiring *too* much top notch hardware, a plus considering the graphics look nearly one hundred percent realistic. There are some things that don't exactly look realistic, which keeps Uru from getting a perfect ten in this field.
Uru, like it's predecessors, excels in this area. You'll hear the classic linking sound when you use a linking book to travel to a different age as well as high quality sound effects when you perform other actions. The music, performed by Cyan World's own Tim Larkin is also top notch, especially the Kadish Gallery's theme. The music really draws you in and makes you feel like your truly there, just like it's predecessors.
Uru is rather sloppy in this area when you start out. The controls are rather confusing at first, space bar allows you to jump while the mouse moves the cursor, holding down the left button allows you to walk and holding down both allows you to run. Just clicking the left mouse button let's you use things, and holding down the right mouse button while moving the mouse allows you to look. You get used to the controls after a while, but it'll take long for those who lack fast reflexes. Not being quick causes a lot of unnecessary panic links in this game...
While Uru is good, it lacks the charm of it's predecessors which were very replayable. Uru is just so long and at times tedious, you have very little will to replay through the game even if you are a long time fan such as myself. However, Cyan Worlds will be releasing expansion packs in the future, the first being a free one called To D'ni has already been released and can be downloaded at a hefty 173 megabytes. A second expansion called Path of the Shell is schedueled for a June release, and may also include To D'ni for those who have dialup modems and lack the time and patience to download 173 megabytes.
Uru is a worthy addition to the Myst line, even as a spin off it is a good game in it's own right. It's far from perfect, the confusing controls are hard to get used to and the sheer length of the game and lack of a good storyline will keep you from wanting to play through it again in the near future, but overall I think any long term Myst fan or new comers to the Myst legacy will enjoy Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and it's challenges.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/16/04
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