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Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor Review
PII-400, 64MB RAM, 700MB HDD
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Sep 24, 01 (released)
|» All About Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor on ActionTrip|
Branislav "Bane" Babovic
Almost ten years after the first Pool of Radiance, we finally face its sequel. So much has been said about this game in the last couple of years that I find it quite surprising that the game turned out this much of a failure. I was personally very disappointed when I saw it as I could hardly wait for it to appear, thinking that its superior graphic design, better script and the implementation of AD&D third edition rules would make it far better than the Baldur's Gate serial. Unfortunately, apart from its good graphics engine, Pool of Radiance is just another "dungeon crawl" which doesn't require you to think while solving quests more than Diablo. This was a major blow to all true fans, which is best illustrated by the fact that the official game site shut down its forum one week after the game was published, because it was crowded with angry players' comments. All this never stopped Pool of Radiance to become a blockbuster. But let's look at the bright side of the entire affair: at least it made certain things clearer (i.e. what players want and do not want to see in an RPG), and we should expect better games in the future.
The story of Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor begins with reactivation of the extinguished Pool of Radiance below the city of New Phlan, which emits energy that turns living into the undead. This basically means that you will encounter a huge number of undead creatures roaming around the ruins, thanks to the pool. The whole thing had been orchestrated by the evil witch Kya, who plans to subdue the world with her undead horde. Grand wizard Elminster employed a team of adventurers to find out what is hiding in the ruins of the ancient elven city of Myth Drannor, as the evil seems to come from there, but the first expedition disappeared without a trace. Now, it is up to you to go through the portal, find out what transpired and eliminate the potential threat in Myth Drannor.
This is where we get to the extremely simple and intuitive character creation. You will also be able to choose from several predefined characters, but no self-respecting RPG player would ever go for those. The game features a standard array of classes: Fighter, Sorcerer, Cleric, Rogue, Paladin, Ranger, Monk and Barbarian, and dual-class combinations. There are no specialized mages in Pool of Radiance. The novelties include the Half-Orcs as player race and the possibility to advance 16 levels in a class. You will create four characters at the start of the game, and can pick up two more characters during the game. The thing that bothered me the most about NPCs is that once they join the party, they become your slaves, and do not utter a single word, even if you're on a quest that is closely connected to them (the best example for this is Jariel the wizard).
The very beginning of the game looks quite promising as you will first get to feast your eyes on the beautiful surroundings of Myth Drannor, but you will also get to know the specific combat system. Each of the characters has limited time (represented by a green bar) to perform an action. Be it casting a spell, running or hand-to-hand combat, the bar will slowly shrink. The problem with this system is that it relies too much on the player reflexes, and practically disregards characters' capabilities and levels. Higher levels will, in this respect, bring your character only more new action to perform. This semi-turn-based, semi real-time gameplay has been made even more difficult by the (irritatingly slow) way enemy characters move. By the time the enemy reaches your ranks, you will be quite fed up with battle. And that's not the end of it - even when they start fighting, and constantly missing each other, in spite of the fact that they are inches away, this combat system will become your main reason for you urge to uninstall Pool of Radiance. (Careful with uninstalling it though - Ed.)
6.8 Above Average
Great visual design of effects and spells, beautiful character animation, feats and skills;
Many, many bugs and a tedious and repetativa combat system.