Game Review - by StormDaemon
Return To Krondor is game filled with action, mystery, and a great storyline authored by Raymond E. Feist, a popular novelist who has written many other books, including the storyline to Betrayal at Krondor. The graphics and sound are top notch, and the role-playing elements of the game are even better. While the game suffers a few small drawbacks, overall it is an excellent and long-lasting adventure.
Several years after the story of Betrayal at Krondor, an incredibly powerful artifact known as the Tear of The Gods is lost beneath the waves of an ocean. A madman known as Bear races to try to recover the artifact while you and your party of adventurers must stop him and his minions. You take control of Squire James, Jazhara, William ConDoin, Kendaric, and Brother Solon as they go through many adventures to try to defeat Bear and restore the lost artifact to its position with the gods.
Incredible graphics, a simplified turn based combat system, and a thick story are the main features of this game. The graphics are all 3D and 180 of the real time characters are motion captured, allowing for realistic movements and believable actions. The combat system is simplified to point and click with a single menu of choices allowing for a wide range of available actions including attacking, spell casting, evading, item use, and choosing attack style. The story is thick with a main plot that has several sub-plots and mysteries to be discovered. As for the other parts of the game, the main menu system doesn't allow for much, especially in the graphics adjustments department, it does get the minimal job done.
As for the "undocumented features" of the game, there are several that sure act like bugs. One of them that does not occur too often, but often enough, is the game crashing for no reason at all. Another bug is in the sound system, at times the music will do a repeating loop of about half a second of the music, and it gets really annoying.
The game plays very nicely, and while in other 3rd person view games the viewpoint could present problems, each camera angle in Return To Krondor is specifically set at a certain point to provide that maximum amount of viewing area for that particular spot. If more than one view is available, you can switch between cameras with a keystroke. Movement in the 3rd person view can be easily accomplished with either a click of the mouse, or a pressing of a key.
The combat system is done well, allowing for easy play and easy understanding. A turn based approach is used, with each person getting one or two attacks each round with the ability to do many things such as cast a spell, evade, run away, play with items, and, of course, hack and slash at enemies.
A really impressive part of the game was the lock picking and alchemy features of the game. Both were very complex and allowed a great deal of freedom of choice of what to do. Lock picking is very hard, not only do you have to figure out which tool to use, but you have to time its use really good otherwise you can set off traps. The alchemy system allows for the combination of several ingredients to make up any kind of desired potion. Not only can recipes be used, but also experimentation is allowed and encouraged. Having such complex and variable systems was very impressive and fun.
The game world itself is complex and detailed with 3D buildings and characters. Even the rats that run around are in 3D. The enemies and non-player characters tend to look a bit alike more often than not, but that does not seem to hinder the game at all. The only problem I had with the gameplay was that once a room was cleared and the players moved on for a few minutes, if they came back after going to another section, there would be different people in the room with different items and treasure. If that part was ignored, and also if the bugs were ignored, the game would be great. Unfortunately, the game has a tendency to crash and the only way to actually play the game again is to restart the computer. That gets really annoying real fast.
The graphics in Return To Krondor were excellently done and looked great. The graphics engine provided by the game could run in software mode almost as well as in DirectX 6 mode, which was really impressive considering the sad state of software renderers in the majority of 3D games on the et. Even though there was not fine tuning available for the graphics, it did not seem to matter too much because of the already superb job done, and the fact that since motion capture technology was used, a large amount of time was spent watching the characters and believing they were there. Of course, with every thing there is a drawback, and the drawback for the graphics is the repetitiveness of the characters motions. They were not particularly varied at all, with the same movement of crossing the arms for the player characters during every conversation being one of the more noticeable faults. A little more variation and random movement would have been wonderful.
Aside from the faults, the detail was excellent. The streets of the city had their own feel to them, even though the insides of the buildings were not varied very well. From rats scurrying around to detailed water fountains, it looked like a typical medieval fantasy city.
The sounds of the game and the ambiance were done very well with the only problem being the repeating bug. Characters had their own voice and accent, sounding authentic to that type of place. The ambient music was appropriate and suited the mood of the situation. All other sounds were authentic, except for a few mishaps, such as when a wooden club strikes a person, it sounds like a metal object hitting them, but that was not too bad. Other than that, the sound was well done.
Return To Krondor is very good game with its mix of beautiful graphics and complexity. Not only is there a great story, but you feel as though you are participating in it. The graphics are really well done and add a spark to the entire genre of RPG's. The adventure itself was interesting and complex, and had enough sub plots to provide a good long playing time. The biggest fault in the game is its ability to crash often enough to really get annoying. So, if you don't mind the bugs and crashing every 10 to 20 minutes and if you like RPG's, you'll love this game.