Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager
The world of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD6D) is littered with cliches. But then so is the world of AD&D reviews. Each one starts with a long ramble about the world of AD&D -its highs, its lows, its rather nasty fish-paste sandwiches. Now that is all going to change. With reckless disregard for my word rate. Im leaping straight into the Dark Sun review.
Certainly is, dad. Absolutely pitch. Not literally you understand, but when power-mad mages reduce a once fertile land to an arid desert things can hardly said to have landed sunny side up.
Yes, dad, a desert. The world of Athas is now a dry and dangerous place'where even T. E. Lawrence would be loathe to tread. (Though the absence of delivery boys might tempt him into taking the bike out for a spin.) The land is full of the most vile creatures and safety (well, relative safety) can only be found in the city states, ruled over by the last of the mages. One of those cities is Tyr and it is here that the game starts.
You and your merry band of men/women/ dwarves/small furry creatures called Eric have to find your way around the town in order to get a feel of whats going on. Initially, the emphasis is on making friends or contacts and not stepping on too many toes.
Of course, dad. Youve got to see how the land lies before you start committing yourself to causes. This is classic AD&D territory. Having generated the four members of your party, complete with the usual collection of characteristics and interbreeding, you dont just leap in with a quest. Instead, as you traverse the city, you pick up news, gossip and the odd mini quest. Even at an early stage of the game there are so many quests within quests that its easy for the unwary to lose track. At one stage I got so overwhelmed by the various sub quests that Id had to undertake in order to complete the more important quest of getting some documents for someone that, when I had finally got the ruddy things, I couldnt remember who they were for. Alt well, perhaps Im just getting old. (I seem to be going to the toilet an awful lot these days, too.)
Anyway, as you progress you discover more of whats going on and get drawn into the plot. Provided you can avoid a sordid death up an alley at the hands of the various thugs who roam the city, then before you know where you are youve joined the underground resistance and are up to your neck in a life-and-death struggle with the dragon kings. More than this I cannot say since at least half the fun of this game is uncovering the plot(s), but you should by now have got an idea of the way this sun is setting.
No, dad, setting sun. Setting Sons is a classic Jam album from 1979, which you have gratuitously introduced into the review simply to a) prove you can even get a Paul Weller reference into an AD&D game, and b) get you away from these irritating Sun-type sub heads and let w you get on with the review. (And not before TIME).
To what do we owe the pleasure?
Dark Sun - Wake of the Ravager is really Dark Sun 2 (Dark Sun 1 being Shattered Lands). However, as is the way with SSI games, the name remains the same; only the sub title has been changed to protect the innocent. I guess this is fair enough since its a new story on an old engine.
Before SSI come leaping down my throat, I know that somewhere in this office there is a press release listing the differences between this game and the original. But I cant find it, can I? (Pause, followed by frantic rustling of paper.) No, I cant. Based on my own hazy memories of Shattered Lands and the screen shots Ive checked in the original review it doesnt seem much different. Tiling is, though, I dont mind. If it aint broke dont fix it and Shattered Lands had a straightforward, relatively intuitive control system, fairly good use of magic and was easy to get into. All of which is true of Wake of the Ravager.
Above all, both games have a strong and addictive story line. Information comes to you gradually and you keep playing it much as you would keep reading a good book. The story is strong enough to overcome the weaknesses of the game itself.
Weak of the Ravager
The most immediate weakness of the game is its graphics, which are far from impressive, especially for a cd (but Ill come to that later). However, theyre no worse than okay and (like Shattered Lands) they are an improvement on the old SSI fare. AD6D players have always seemed willing to accept less than outstanding graphics in return for what they feel is a greater depth of gameplay. But then, AD&D fans have always accepted things wc lesser mortals shy away from. An arcade addict is going to get pretty hacked off with the combat. (Ho, ho.) Me? I can stand the turn-based nature of it (the dramatic music makes it kind of exciting), but the splodges of colour with numbers on each time you make a hit are a bit trying, to say the least. Its like being on the set of the old Batman tv series.
The movement is a bit of a let down, too. At times it all gets a bit jerky, but theres worse than that. Although you can call up an overhead map, click where you want to go and let the computer do the walking, youre obviously going to spend most of the time moving your character(s) around the screen. Unfortunately, it can be a bit imprecise. On one occasion I had to go with some weird leather-clad character to the public baths. Now, few people have more experience than me of going to public baths with weird leather-clad characters but I kept getting left behind. It took me nine attempts to actually arrive at the same time as my guide. Boy was I angry (well a little bit huffy anyway.)
Shadow of the sun
(Thats two Paul Weller references.) Reading back I see Ive written this review assuminj that you all know what AD&D is about. Normally that would be fair enough since no one but an AD&D fan would play an SSI game. However, with Wake of the Ravager I think the storyline and control system might even make for the odd convert. Its not going to win over the hardened hack-and-slash merchant but it is one of the best AD&D games to date.
The people who are likely to be disappointed, though, are (once again) the CD owners who expect something more than digitised voices and the odd cinematic sequence for their upgrade. Thats all you get here and, even though the cinematic sequences and music are good, I still have a bit of a problem with American accents in medieval style games. However, if you forget your prejudices against AD&D I'll forget mine against Americans and well both have a quiet night in with a pretty smart rpg.
Download Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP