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Anyone played Myst? Riven? Well then you'll know what to expect here, just put the setting in the Atlantis and call it an average example of the same genre because its basically a clone of these games...yet again. Its gets tiring to keep playing the same thing over and over in the hope that you might find something different and worthy of your time, but I do like this kind of game so I do keep trying. Atlantis isn't the new, exciting, innovative game I'm looking for to break the mould here, but rather a rehash of old ideas in new settings. Still, if you've no idea what Myst is, or have never played a similar game then there's probably something here for you - or if you are easily pleased and like the genre then feel free to read on. "Atlantis: The Lost Tales" to give it its full title, is one of the multitude of 3D adventure games which follow in the footsteps of games like Myst which basically this means that you get to explore a 3D rendered world and interact with a whole bunch of characters using point and click interface in the hope of solving some quest. This time the fate of the Queen of Atlantis is in your hands. You have been chosen as a 'Companion' - one of the loyal followers of the Queen Rhea whose job it is to look after her and follow her every bidding. Sounds like hell to me, but apparently its a great honour and you are thrilled. You begin(you're Seth by the way) on a rather funky flying boat travelling out to the island where you'll take up your post in the palace. When you get there though you find that the queen has been kidnapped an it is up to you to find out who is to blame and get the queen back. Is it the barbarians on the neighbouring island? Is it treachery from within? Or is there some other darker force at play here? That is the mystery to be unravelled in Atlantis. The thing which is the main draw about these games seems to be the graphics, character interactions and puzzles
...although puzzles seem to be becoming a distant third at the moment which is an enormous shame because so many games are almost unplayable because of the lack of any real puzzles to solve. Atlantis is no real exception to this rule, incorporating some beautiful 3D rendered graphics and a technology called "OMNI 3D" which allows you to have a 360 degree panoramic view of your surroundings. Graphically in this respect it is quite impressive. Of course if you have ever played Riven which is simply stunning, then you won't be impressed at all, but otherwise its very impressive indeed. Well, you wander around this world using a very simple interface which basically allows you to wander around by clicking on the gold arrows which appear on the screen telling you which directions you can go in until you find something of interest. You'll come across people to interact with which is key to solving the mystery and filling in the storyline and objects to collect as well as puzzles to solve. Talking to people is simple again, you click on them, get a list of questions to ask, click again and get your answer. The characters of these people(around 50 in total) are well defined but I wasn't all that impressed with the graphical representation of them which really looks like plasticine representations of people and looks particularly bad when compared to the awesome backdrops. But then I suppose I am too used to 'real' actors playing the parts rather than seeing drawn characters anymore. One thing which is good though is that using OMNI's lip synch technology the lips of the characters do actually move in pretty much the expected way as if they were voicing the words themselves - no mean feat in the gaming world and something at least to applaud them for. The voice-overs too aren't that bad, actually fitting the characters which is more than can be said for some titles and not "hamming-up" the roles either. Other sound ef
fects are just about right, although there is very little to speak of in terms of 'ambient' sounds - you'd think that there would be a little more wildlife, buzzing insects etc. sounds in a tropical environment like this...ahh well. Things like door knocking, level pulling, death moans etc. are all handled well, digitally reproduced excellently and can't really be faulted - just a few more of them would have been nice. The in-game music is odd, but befits the scenes perfectly. Different scenes have different music which changes volume, tempo etc. to fit the situation. Lovely stuff. The big gripe I have with this game is basically the gameplay. Most adventure games these days allow some flexibility of movement. There are ultimately linear in their design as indeed they probably must be to tell the story effectively but at the same time the best ones trick you into feeling they are otherwise. Atlantis makes no attempt to do this whatsoever and you constantly feel like you are being shepherded down a particular path. If you stray from that path you tend to end up very dead very quickly which tends to mean that you do not go exploring anything out of the ordinary or take too many deviations from the main course of the game. Indeed, you do not have to, there is a very definite set path to follow and follow it you do. The path leads to a puzzle which more often that not MUST be completed before you can do anything else of any worth in the game. If you get stuck, you can't go off and explore something else because this puzzle has to be solved before there is that much else to explore. Conversations too are pretty much predetermined so that even though you have to sit there clicking the mouse on different questions you are basically listening to a monologue from the other person which could just as easily have been conveyed without the mouse clicks. Personally I found all this way too restrictive and it severely cramps the gameplay aspect.
One final gripe? The puzzles are pretty dull. Its not that they are easy mind you, but rather that its things like 'assemble the snakes into the correct pattern', 'line up the planets', 'mess around with the chess board'. Speaking as someone who has played a lot of these types of games in their time, you get a little bored with this kind of thing and wish they would come up with something new. Admittedly its a hell of a lot better than Riven's 'pull this lever' or to add variety 'turn this wheel' puzzles but its still a little uninspired. That said, if you are new to this type of thing then you'll probably enjoy them - but be warned, they aren't the easiest you'll come across. Overall then, whilst I found Atlantis rather dull because it felt like a 'walkthrough' rather than a 'game' half the time, I'm sure there is something here for less cynical adventurers to enjoy. The puzzles are quite hard and the storyline a novel twist on the Atlantis theme(its not even under water!), but for me, it was all too linear for any real enjoyment. For a better example of the genre check out something like Myst or the Zork series which at least has some very funny moments as well as tough puzzles. ~Overall Ratings~ Graphics : 7/10 Sound : 8/10 Gameplay : 5/10 Longevity : 4/10 Overall : 5/10 MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: P90, 8MB RAM, 4X CD, DOS/Win95/98
As my dear old Mum used to say, ‘Matthew, there’s no point having great graphics in an adventure if they’re only there to disguise a shallow game.’ Of course she didn’t really. She hates games. But it’s true nonetheless, and had she actually said it I might not have wasted my money on Myst when I was younger. It’s also true in part of Atlantis, though thankfully, Cryo have managed to retain a modicum of game beneath the visuals. Graphically, Atlantis is stunning. Sweeping the mouse left and right produces a smooth scroll in 360 degrees while clicking to move forward elicits a beautifully fluid transition to the next location. Meticulously rendered cut- scenes, consistently varied and superbly lit landscapes and well-conceived characters who react realistically to your actions produce all the ingredients for a high-quality adventure. And although the story-line is a hackneyed ‘rescue-the-captured-Queen’, it twists and turns enough to stay interesting. But, as is so often the case with gorgeous adventures and Cryo’s games, the puzzles and extent to which you interact with characters are limited. Disappointingly, the former require either extremely simple use of objects in the requisite location (finding yourself trapped in a room with high walls and no exit, it doesn’t take long to work out that that conspicuous ladder in the corner might be of some use), or more difficult board-game style conundrums set by inexplicably puzzle-obsessed characters who are a blatantly obvious plot contrivance. Conversations with the many characters throughout the game are also too linear - questions are asked by selecting icons, but options are few, and often by choosing one, you set off a chunk of dialogue which takes minutes to complete. Spanning four CDs, the quest
ion is why Cryo didn’t bother including more challenging puzzles and conversation options rather than overdosing on the visuals and the soundtrack. Even the addition of a few ‘red herring’ objects would have created the impression that there is more to the game. As it stands, every object that you find has an important use. Playing Atlantis is, however, a totally immersive experience due solely to the incredibly atmospheric graphics and sound. The obvious work that’s gone into the characterisation pays off as the actors are as believable as characters have ever been in a PC game. Shame, then, that the game is over too quickly due to the simplistic puzzles. Had Cryo spent as much time on the substance as the looks, they might have had a classic on their hands. This review was taking from PCGamer and is opyrighted. I personally think that Atlantis is rubbish!