RPG… Role Playing Games… One has to have time to spare for those, mostly because of very extensive and elaborate stories. This is also the case for Arx Fatalis. Unfortunately your servant has close to no experience with this type of games, he is more partial to the “quick fix” persuasion: FPS and racing are mostly on his menu. Let’s see how he get’s along!
Arx has become a flurishing city under the benign King Poxellis, a city where humans, trolls, dwarfs and goblins live together peacefully but on their own. But in the year 226 darkness strikes… quite literally: the people of the world have no more sunlight. With the prospect of freezing to death, the whole city is moved underground into the troll tunnels and all creatures undertake this task together. This operation takes 5 years, during which the sun is completely darkenend. In this underground city all species go their seperate ways as before, but there is one that seeks total domination… the Ratpeople. The evil God “Achbar” sends one of his minions on an evil mission: kill the King of Arx! The evil deed done, this rat is cornered, but finds his escape in magic… together with your capture…
This is where the game begins. You find yourself in a cell guarded by goblins, and your memory is like a hard drive after a confrontation with c:format… completely void! Your neighbour asks you to help him escape and of course you do. This man will then provide you with a rather fitting name: Am Shaegar which means as much as “man with no memory”. He also offers you a description of the state of the world in these days (cold, dark, empty, a vast plane of ice).
While continuing with your escape you learn how to use weapons, magic and other objects (food is going to be an important part of the game). Solving puzzle after puzzle you go through the levels, and learn that the rats in the corridors are quite dangerous… smashing them to a pulp with a bone is a healthy practice here!
But violence isn’t always the answer: some creatures you meet are happy to trade with you and others will help you no matter what, and become your friend…
No worries here as usual… but after I read the Readme file I concluded that my current system hovers somewhere between the minimum and recommended requirements… which was sometimes visible in-game! Some scenes had massive FPS drops, so some of the information within those was lost, which doesn’t really help. A more powerful system can solve this (and mine has served me well for the last 2 years… time for an upgrade!), so people who meet the recommended system should have no problem whatsoever with this game!
A quick check for patches on the Arx Fatalis website, you never know… And yes: patch 1.16a installed, again without problems.
A nice touch during the installation is the graphics and moody sounds. No boring install shield here!
Adjustable to personal preference, but I used the standard settings. In-game you have a “book” where you often find the controls together with a brief description and their standard button. You can choose the “inventory look” in which your “book” is visible (and of course usable), and sometimes this is a handy feature: if you have collected food and you find your life force meter dropped, you can eat and thus increase your life force. Another option is mouse look: this mode makes walking around easier, and your view is not blocked by bars and books…
The thing I found nice as an FPS-adept: you’re playing in the for me familiar First Person view! But honesty commands me also to mention that your caracter’s movements take some getting used to. You get a good feeling that you walk but sometimes this makes obstacles hard to avoid. I got the feeling that I often had to gaze at my feet to see what was in the way… but again: that’s just me!
In your mission book you not only find maps (which reveal already walked through territory) and a reminder of your buttons, but also your statistics. These can be adjusted at the beginning of the game: you can for example increase your fysical or magical strenght, but this can reduce other perhaps handy options. You also find a page with the Rune stones you collected which give you magical powers. On this page you will see the move you have to mimic for casting your spell while holding the magic button. Some of you might recognise this system: I have been told that Deus Ex uses a similar way.
Sound and Vision:
For me this is the best thing of the game: as the story progresses mostly in dark enviroments you will be faced with actual darkness (even with lighting torches the game still looks exrtemely dark) and the constant flow of background noise only gives it more tension. Because of my less than up to specs system I was not able to enjoy the full strength of the graphical engine, but even with my lower setting everything was nice without being foto realistic, something that in my opinion is not really needed. I do have to mention that the background noise is sometimes a bit too loud and overpowers the conversations, but in my opinion they are not that disturbing because you have subtitles to compensate.
RPG is basically a game type that requires time and dedication to keep the games interested until the end, and time is something that I don’t really have. Still this has been a nice introduction to the genre, and I’m sure this game will stay on my HD for sick/holidays. From what I saw and played I can only say that it kept me going on just to see what was coming next. Sound and graphics are well balanced with mood in mind.
This game will soon be released for X-Box too!