Review by MarkusIII
"The fate of Arx lies in your hands, make the best of it."
Arx Fatalis seems to be a very underrated RPG-game by a lot of people. Why ? I don't have a single little clue. This is a typical RPG that all lovers of the genre should really like. Maybe these people see the game as a weaker version of big brother series Morrowind. And sure, this game is not as huge and does not at all have as much quests and people, but it's still a really great RPG. It has great atmosphere, funny way of casting spells, repairing weapons, producing objects, and has a lot of secret stuff and side quests that is well hidden, and even if the world is very labyrinth-ish and much alike, it's still great fun to explore the world. However, my complaints would lie in the shortness of the game. It's awfully short for being a RPG, feels like when your character has been upgraded and starting to be good, and you're getting into the game and the situation, then the game ends. It's really sad, because this game would easily reached at least a very strong 9 if it had been longer. It's absolutely a little brother to the Morrowind series, but it's not bad at all just for being shorter version is it ? No. There is still much to do in the game with great quests and side quests.
The story is actually quite ridiculous. The sun is dead and gone and the earth is now a barren ice land, so what do they do...of course, build a big world under the earth's surface. Genial. I do wonder though how all races of the game was able to do this in time ? Did they watch TV and it was said on the news that the sun will die and ice will rule the lands ? Nah, don't think so. Anyway, so Arx is this city that is underground, and they've build a nice kingdom indeed. Down here you will run in murky dungeons, tunnels, mines, tombs etc. Of course, you will not see any beautiful sunlight, moonlit nights down here, but the world is actually pretty nice anyway. Down in all these labyrinths lives all these races of this world. Trolls, goblins, humans, rat men for example, and all have their own area so to speak. And of course, there and enemies and the biggest enemy of them all Akbaa. These want to kill all humans and other creatures and take over Arx, and it all turns into a fight between good and evil. In the first cut scene you will see the main character Am Shaegar waking up in a prison cell, which you are to break out from, and then Your mission begins, to stop these evil forces.
In the game you play in classic first person view, by this you do of course see your enemy closer than in third person, and is then easier to kill the enemies, I suppose. As I said you play as a dude called Am Shaegar, which will be the Hero or Arx. With him you find a lot of objects to use, weapons and armour, all classic RPG things. When you kill enemies, finished a quest and so you get experience points, which you are to delude into all kinds of skills. This is really funny of course, as we all RPG players know. To upgrade your character and realise he just gets better and better is only one the the great things that makes RPG's funny. From the beginning, before you've reached to the City of Arx, you will roam around in different labyrinth-like caves, and this can at first be really confusing where to go, and your steps and possible killing can have a pretty big stage in your future missions. For example, if you kill the trolls in their area when you first have arrived there, it may not be so smart...because later in the game you have to search up the Troll King and get an object from him. If you have killed all trolls, you are of course not friends with them, but if you've let em be, you are friends with them and he will give you the objects after some other things needed to do. So in the game it's a little on which side you will stand, good or bad side, after this you will often have to go to the King of Arx to know what you should do next, and begin a new chapter, and go to a different level. A good thing with these levels is that in each one there is a kind of portal, with these portals you can transport yourself by just going through them, to whatever level you want to go to. However, you must of course find each portal on each level. If you don't find the portal of level 4 example, then you cannot transport yourself there, you must find it and activate it first. These are anyway important, since they help you to travel faster, and you don't have to run the same ways the whole time, would have been really tiresome.
There are also some puzzles to be found here and there in the game, some are really hard and I needed to check a walkthrough for them, while other puzzles are quite easy. Overall there is not a lot of puzzles, but most RPG's does not even include them, so I think it's absolutely a nice addition. One really have to watch the savings too, you can save anywhere you would like to, which is awesome...but it can lead to fatal problems too, if you're not vigilant. Another thing one can do, which you mostly can in RPG's is to produce own items. To be able to produce life and magic potions in the game is really helpful, since it's important to always have much potions in the game. One can also repair weapons and armour that have become weak, the higher your technique skill is, the better will the repairing be, and then you can fight with it longer. A very effective way, instead of always be bound to buy new weapons and armours.
The game contains many funny quests, and great side quests. To make and show interest, and to take yourself on these, you have to talk with people and they will say their problem/or what they want you to get etc. Am Shaegar will note all quest related things in a notebook, so it is easy for you to go and read there what quests you've discovered. The rewards for doing the side quests can be variating. In some you can get some money, in some harder and longer ones though you can get som great weapons/armour for example. And I really recommend to do these, because without them the game will be even shorter, and you will be more disappointed. So do them, some are even funnier than certain part of the main quest.
One little problem in the game, is the lack of money. You have a very little sum of money to spend on things, you don't earn to much on the quests and by selling weak items. This makes the game a tad harder, because otherwise you could have bought those somewhat greater weapons in the shop. But it would have been very nice with much money just for one buy, but not really. You can of course rob the bank of the city of Arx, but then you will have all guards, humans, Kings and pretty much every character against you in the game, which is not a recommended option. You will probably not have a chance at all to complete the game, which would be a disaster. In exception of this with the money, the game is medium-levelled in terms of difficulty, it's not a really hard game that you need to check many walkthroughs for, and it's not a game that you just run through and then sit and think it was a very easy game. If you do that, you have obviously not tried to do certain side quests, since at least one of them is very hard.
If we talk about controls, they are great, and are mostly are easy to use, but can also be challenging. What is challenging is when you should use certain spells. You then have to steer your pad right, left, up, down to cast the spell. Of course, different directions for each spell. If you are to use one spell when facing an enemy for example, it can be really stressing and you can often fail to complete the process to finally cast the spell, and you have to try again and again. The longer the game goes the more used to it you get, of course, but in the beginning it can be quite tough. There are a lot of spells to put on your mind, and luckily there is one button to be used as a kind of remember spell-button. You press this button, and it will be cast, without doing these directions on the pad. As you maybe understand, you always put your best spell on this button, and then gets easier to kill an enemy. A thing that is kind of bugged, and pretty lame done is when you're jumping. The game actually froze when I was in the air, and I had to turn my XBOX off and do the things I had done without saving again. But despite this, the controller is good in overall, and i'm glad the creators chose the first person choice.
Graphics are one of the minor things that could have been a little bit better with the game. While it's not ugly, at all, it still feels that it could have been better. The environments do look a lot better than what the characters do. If you stand really close to a character, you can see how blurred his/her face (and also whole body) really is, which you don't see in distance, a common problem in many games, so Arx Fatalis is not alone. In overall, I do think that the characters do look a bit edgy shaped, and could have been fixed out better, or maybe i'm just too finicky. The environments though, do really look great compared to the characters. Even if the game is played in underground the whole game, there are some beautiful looking places in the game, such as when you are to hunt a dragon egg in a frosty and snow-covered dungeon, that place looks just phenomenal. The spells you cast in the game are OK looking, when you cast fire for example you see and imagine that is of course fire, but I think it mostly just looks some some orange vapour. It could have been more detailed, but is quite OK. But on the big whole, it really is the environmental side that lifts up the graphics.
In overall it isn't much music to be found in the game, it is more as atmospheric and nice sound effects. Except these there are in most parts of the games the sound of torches, footsteps, noises from other creatures, flowing water and so on, sounds from the nature, in other words. All these things do absolutely sound realistic, the sound when you walk in water, which often can sound really bad, sounds surely OK in Arx Fatalis. The sound of all the spells are also realistic, if there is a thunder spell, yes you can clearly hear that it thunder you are using. To get over to the dialogues in the game, they are mostly good, for being a infamous game like this. Also, all creatures in the game do of course have their own dialects, and way of speaking, which is awesome. The trolls and goblins are the two greatest to be found, and they both do for sure speak in a very amusing way.
RENT OR OWN ?
I think it's quite obvious, right ? Easily a buy on this one, even if it's short. I would easily have given this game a 8,5/10, but sadly these half points is not available to give here on Gamefaqs. And I give it a 8, why it's more a 8 than 9 is grounded on one thing, as I mentioned, it's because it's way too short, and some minor other things. I think it would be very nice with a sequel though, a second part of Arx Fatalis to the XBOX 360. Think, with greater character designs and maybe even better environment graphics, better story and a longer game, it can be such awesome. Even if the game fails somewhat in these parts, Arx Fatalis did not get the response that it deserves, and maybe a sequel is just to forget, but there is always hope. Until then, we can at least enjoy this absolutely great RPG that I recommend you to buy.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/06
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