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Reviewed: Avernum
Author: Chris Kim       Date: July 20th, 2000
Page: 3

Since the world of Avernum is a persistent one, things are always moving and happening. With a completely open game design, lots of things have to be kept in mind. The reputation factor is the most important and best thing about the game. Before even receiving certain quests, the party's reputation has to be high enough for that person giving the quest to know of. For instance, Erika won't even talk to the party about her plans unless the reputation is twenty-five or above (default reputation is at ten). Reputation was gained by accomplishing and doing tasks for other people in Avernum. This makes the player actually develop his/her skills prior to the game getting too advanced for the player, giving a little direction in how to approach it. Do something mean or bad, reputation will fall and that town will hold a grudge against the player.

Another smart thing about the game is the AI. It plans and moves the enemies quite well, although the AI seems to use brute force over intelligent placement. Frequent loading/saving is required because of that surprise element of being over powered; although, the AI does make good moves in battle to position itself at an advantage versus the player, it can be beat. Depending on the skill level picked (from easy to impossible), can drastically impact the performance and skill level of the computer. With that skill level selector, all players with various skill levels can easily jump into the game. It's not like getting into the game was hard anyway...

Huge Encounter
No More Slaughtering

One of the nicest parts about Avernum is the simple and easy interface. All control can be accomplished through keyboard or mouse, although the keyboard is quicker. It combines the usage of several overlaid windows, each with their respective functions. A simple "paper doll" interface of equipping and removing equipment is what Avernum offers along with an easy scroll menu for all items in inventory. Every function has a hotkey, along with the hotkey nicely labeled beneath or next to the button/function. Along with that, a drag and drop function with the mouse can operate in the same exact way instead of using the hotkeys.

Control with the keyboard or mouse to move and fight in combat is pretty simple. Since the world is positioned from an isometric perspective, movement is diagonal. Using the keyboard, the keypad is put to use with 1, 3, 7, and 9 buttons for movement and 2, 4, 6, and 8 for diagonal (relative to the gameworld) movement. This perspective adjusts itself to where the player is located. On all buildings, the tops are cut off so seeing inside the buildings is clearly visible and nothing is hidden behind other obstacles, such as bookcases or walls. Movement with the mouse is just as simple with an arrow that points in a certain direction and then pointing moves the party.

Outside Town
Talk Yo!
Read Up

While the gameplay is smoothly polished and exciting to play, the graphics are at the complete opposite spectrum. These graphics are by far some of the most crude, simple, and primitive graphics to be released in several years. The first thing to note are the extremely small graphics that are used. The program wants to lock in at 800x600 resolution and then there is a smaller border around the playing field. The actual graphics themselves are constraint inside to another border with other windows surrounding the game, so the actual visible world is roughly half the size of the 800x600 screen. Getting past that, since the graphics use such a small window and the graphics are very simple, getting the game up and running on any system is a fairly simple and easy process. There is no configuration of videocards or anything else for that fact.

The most detailed objects are not used in the game. The sprites used to depict the characters in the game blend in well and fit perfectly with the rest of the gameworld. A realistic, but also cartoonish at the same time, set of colors at used to fill the depths of Avernum. Textures and objects are overlaid quite attractively and seem like a realistic place to be. One thing that is bothersome, though, are how all areas are limited to Wolfenstein 3D-esque 90 angled walls. There are no areas where curved places exist. Animation is also on the sparse side, while it is no different from any of Spiderweb's games, some extra animations would really help out the graphical splendor, although the death is animated.

Pretty Rug

Another area that Spiderweb's games have never excelled at is in the sound department. The sound is extremely sparse mainly consisting of walking, alerts, and combat filling the air. Other sounds when swinging weapons at enemies, when blows land, taking steps, and triggering some sort of alert will signal a sound to be played. They are decent sounds are sufficient to play the game. One thing that is significant that is missing, however, is the music... there is none!

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Added:  Thursday, July 20, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 3/5

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