Review by RHibiki

"Self-confessed Myst player"

''Click n point'' adventure games. Hardly the favourite genre of the hardcore gamer. Besides LucasArts' excellent Monkey Island series (which, interestingly, has now turned its back on mouse control in favour of joypad), most games in the genre have in fact proved to be slow, plodding affairs. Definitely not the kind of thing that appeals to twitch-happy King of Fighter fans.

Despite the wails and gnashing of teeth from the harcore community, Myst and Myst II: Riven famously went on to become two of the most popular titles in videogames history, notching up sales in excess of 10 million. Plenty of people out there obviously like the games and - confession time - I must admit that I'm one of them. There. I've said it.

One of the most appealing things about the series is the simplistic controls. All navigation and object manipulation is done using the mouse and this means even a total games newbie can learn how to play the game in under a minute. This is probably the reason why the game has become synonymous with uninformed gamers, but it is also the series great strength - especially when you realise that some real depth and devilish puzzles are hiding beneath. Some puzzles are quite obvious, others will leave you bald in frustration. Still, you'll feel a great relief and a sense of achievement when you do finally work out the solutions.

Half of the game is made up of FMV - another thing that annoys many hardcore types - that helps the story progress. You do spend lengths of time just watching a lightly interactive movie, but the production levels are so high that I didn't feel cheated. The FMV is certainly much better than the tosh found in games like Voyeur and Under a Killing Moon. The actors and actresses have done a very good job in pulling you into the plot. Among them are Rand Miller who founded Cyan, the games company who developed the first two Myst games, and Brad Dourif - soon to be appearing in the Lord of the Rings motion picture. The Academy Award-nominated thespian plays the notorious villain who wishes to seek revenge against Atrus (Miller).

The backgrounds in Myst III look just as cutting-edge and beautiful as those found in the earlier games. Sound effects too are very special indeed. There isn't one game that can touch its attention to detail and its seamless integration between static frames and video footage. The sound is probably the best thing about the game. Hook up some surround sound speakers or your hi-fi and drift along with all that rich ambient effects and soundtrack.

Myst games in general aren't to everyone's taste. So what. You probably know that already. But we're assuming that if you're reading this review, you're one of the many who enjoyed the earlier games, and if that is the case, prepare to love this. It is genuinely refreshing to see a game that doesn't require half-naked women, fighting and gunplay. A game you can finally let your mother see. Be warned though; she'll probably end up addicted to the game herself!

In conclusion then, Myst III doesn't offer enough to convert the non-believers, but people looking for a gorgeous looking game that deals out relaxation and frustration in equal measures, this is probably the best you'll find anywhere.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 06/12/01, Updated 06/14/01

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