Review by Aagon
"Solid RPG, Could have been better though"
Let me start off by saying that I love the RPG. I have played and beaten nearly every rpg that has come out in the last 15 years for the console, or PC. I have my favorites, but suffice it to say I have very high standards. What I look for in an rpg are these criteria: 1) There has to be a compelling story. This should be a no brainier. If you cannot muster up a decent story, then don't bother making it an rpg. 2) There must be believable characters. Look if I hate every character I meet in game because they don't say, do or look remotely realistic what's the point? 3) There must be deep game play with good customization options. In the end of the day if the game play is awful, the game will be too. These will be the 3 categories for this review.
1) Story: 8/10
Arx Fatalis does a solid job in engaging you in the tale. From the outset you are entered into a story that has mystery, and intrigue. The story does provide expected twists, which serves to detract from the overall story because it embraces the obvious conclusions only moments after you've already figured them out. If you want to provide plot twists, they need to be unexpected, Arx chooses to embrace the well worn fantasy plot of: There's a problem, mysterious stranger with powers imbued by the gods has to help the good folk from utter destruction from evil. It's the story of every Ultima game, and most of the RPG books. What Arx does well is to provide the gamer with a compelling tale of Good versus Evil, in a setting that is unusual. I do think that you will enjoy the plot despite it's obvious story.
2) Characters: 6/10
Unfortunately this is where Arx breaks down a bit. I don't know where game companies thought it would be a good idea to provide voice 'acting' in a game with 'actors' who were probably hired at the local 7-11 for a couple of hot dogs and a Coke. Not a single line in the game seemed to have any urgency, or emotion in anything that they say. Ever. The character models in the cut-scenes were sub par at best, and if you're playing on an HD TV they looked even worse. There really was about 3 facial models for each race, and they were haphazardly pasted all over the character models. They looked more like a 2nd rate graduate school 3d rendering project then a polished video game. With all of these flaws I didn't end up caring about any of them, and often times found myself listlessly casting a rogue fireball into the midst of them, or summoning a demon into the middle of the city of Arx. I always felt slightly put out when people 'asked' me to help them.
3) Game play: 8/10
This game has a first person perspective which does work okay for this game. Let's be honest, this game doesn't really set any new marks for graphical achievement, or rendering, so it's probably better that you don't have to look at yourself running all over these dungeons. The single button weapon attack is nicely complimented with at directional pad addition which allows you to slash, stab, or do an overhead strike. The magic system is great. I love playing the pure caster roles, and this game definitely rewards the mage with some great spells. Overall maxing out any one specific statistic does provide you with a great advantage. If you play a thief you will get tons of gold, and additional items for free (stealing them, of course), and you'll be able to go anywhere in Arx with a simple pick of a lock. If you max out your strength and make a warrior, you will kill just about anything that walks with a couple of mighty blows. It is a game that you can embrace for it's customizable.
4) Overall: 7/10
Overall, this game provides solid game play, with lackluster characters, and an interesting (yet predictable) plot. This game is a fun play through once, but I fear that I will provide the rpg game little to no replay value. There are other better rpgs out there, but if you need a break from KOTOR or Morrowind this game is a good distraction.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/11/04
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