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Syberia 2 Review
PII 350, 64MB RAM, 16MB VIdeo Card, 400MB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 30, 04 (released)
|» All About Syberia 2 on ActionTrip|
Taking a look at the state of the gaming industry today, it's safe to say that the adventure gaming genre is still alive and kicking. You can consider the pompous reports from a few years back that adventure gaming is dead as exaggerated and sensationalist, because companies like Microids, Dreamcatcher and others are proving there is still a niche market for adventure games. In all honesty, however, this niche market is nowhere near as widespread as it once was, back in the days of old school gaming, but it's far from dead either. Today it's just smaller and geared towards a more specific bunch of gamers.
Boy, somebody's eager to get pneumonia... Zip up, girly!
Is it just me, or is that the One Ring on the roof over there!
One of the shinier examples of this new wave of adventure games has to be Benoît Sokal's brainchild, Syberia.
Benoît Sokal is regarded today as one of Europe's comic strip pioneers. In November 2002, in collaboration with G'rard Lemari', Casterman published Benoît Sokal's "Syberia, esth'thique du Jeu", both a compilation of drawings and a philosophical essay on video games. Since the release of Syberia in June 2002, Benoît Sokal has been working on Syberia II, the sequel to Kate Walker's adventures.
What immediately caught my eye in regards to Syberia II is how much care and attention to detail went into the production of the sequel. It is very clear that the second Syberia game was made with fans of the original in mind, and that the author spent a lot time perfecting his vision of the fantasy world. But as much as this was a blessing for true fans of the series, it might come off as slightly off-putting for the newcomers. I say this because, being so concentrated on making the sequel good, Benoît and the rest of the team forgot that there may be some people that will pick up this game even though they haven't played the original.
The story in the sequel doesn't ease you into the game, or puts things in perspective. It simply picks up where the original left off, naturally assuming that you've played the first game. Any serious project intended for a wider spectrum of consumers would never kick things off that way. Syberia II, for better or worse, seems like a true niche project geared mostly towards loyal fans of the original.
Well, you can always pick up the previous installment and play it before the sequel, and if you're an adventure fan, you wouldn't be making a mistake; quite the contrary. In any case, those of us who have finished the first game will feel like the adventure has never ended and that you are instead simply starting another chapter of it.
The train leaves Aralbad under a quiet snowfall. Kate, Hans and Oscar, the loyal, humorous automaton, are heading to Romansbourg, the first of the four worlds to be explored in Syberia II.
The motley crew will clear the last bastions of Russian civilization followed by the Frozen North before arriving at Youkol Village, from where they will try to reach their final destination: Syberia. Along the way, they will have to overcome many obstacles and deal with shady characters to uncover clues vital to the continuation of their quest. Kate's timeless journey through Valadilene, Barrockstadt, Komkolzgrad and Aralbad has sparked an evolution in her character, from an ambitious lawyer to a curious and tenacious adventuress.
Kate's role has undergone a remarkable change. From being the pursuant, she becomes Han's main acolyte, his support in attaining the forgotten realm of the mammoths.
Moreover, as Kate's role has undergone a change, so has the game series itself. Everything about the sequel seems slightly better than what I've seen in the original. Naturally, we aren't talking any huge leaps here, simply some very nice touches that when added together make for a better gaming experience.
The artwork is even more beautiful than in the original game. Seeing how the 3D engine that is used to render the characters isn't what you'd call at the forefront of today's PC 3D technology, it's amazing how much the artists managed to get out of it. Just like in Syberia, the game very successfully blends 2D and 3D art creating a visually consistent game world that again has that distinct French artistic flavor to it - fine design that is very subtle and moody while not trying to impress you straight off with dazzling colors or any sort of conventional eye candy. If you're a fan of European style comic book art, this game will be right up your alley.
I've always had my heart set on a church-wedding.
Why is it always dark in these games?
As far as the game's presentation goes, the most pleasant surprise comes in the form of superb voice acting and excellent musical soundtrack. Needless to say, if you want people to immerse into a static game world like the ones in adventure games, you have to make sure that all the fundamentals of such a world are in place. Properly dramatized and expressive voice acting, beautiful and unique settings, etc.
Finally, the pacing in Syberia 2 is much better. Even though you still have to do a lot of talking that eventually leads to receiving important hints and clues for the puzzles, the designers have made an extra effort to make the problems a little more varied this time around. Just as I would start to get bored from talking to a lot of people just to get clues, a few object or logical puzzles would come along that would pick up the gameplay pace quite nicely.
The plot also unfolds at an excellent pace and will keep you interested throughout your time in the world of Syberia.
Overall, I just got a very positive feeling from playing the sequel. Benoît and the rest of the crew hit a home run here so to speak. The game flows beautifully and it is a joy to play. The game world is rich and detailed and backed up by some good narrative, excellent art design and sound work. The only real gripe I had with Syberia II is that it doesn't bother to hide the fact it's a niche product. What this means is that the designers are assuming you're a fan and not just a guy/gal looking to give this new adventure game a try - even if it is a sequel. That's not a good way ease newcomers into your elaborate fantasy world.
8.4 Very Good
Beautiful, engrossing adventure game with lots of subtle details and good pacing;
Syberia II doesn't ease the newcomers into the new adventure, character models look slightly dated.
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