Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire
So, you still want to be a hero? Well, come visit Silmaria on the beautiful Grecian-style island of Marete. The Dragon of Doom has been awakened, the king has been murdered, monsters are overrunning the island, and the tourist industry is suffering because of it. Only the bravest and strongest (and sneakiest) will be able to rid the island of these beasts and compete in the rites to be the new king., the fifth installment of the series (formerly known as Hero’s Quest for us old-timers) promises action, adventure, and a new level of sightseeing for all you would-be (or have-been) heroes.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
There are many aspects of Dragon Fire that will remind old-timers of the previous games and characters. You will meet many people, kattas, liontaurs, etc., with whom you’ve dealt in the past, and make acquaintance with lots of new ones. Also, in keeping with the Quest for Glory style, there are numerous outside references to Monty Python and Douglas Adams’ books, along with the typical (if one can call it that) plethora of REALLY corny jokes and punchlines. The general interface is a bit different from the previous games, but is very easy to pick up. The interface consists of a toolbar with icons for inventory, character attributes, action, and vital statistics, along with spaces where you can place nine items for quick access. Like previous installments, this game can be played with both mouse and/or keyboard. Depending on your current situation and mood, one may perform better than the other. Once again, you will also have the ability of importing your character from a previous game and beefing him up a bit before starting. One of the first things you may notice is new types of available attributes (one or more depending on your character) such as swimming and pickpocketing. If you haven’t played any Quest for Glory games or want to start a new and different career, do not fear -- Dragon Fire is first-time friendly. A new character created from scratch will be initially strong enough to survive, but you’ll need to work out a little to bring him up to speed.
This game offers a very different perspective than most (if not all) other third-person perspective adventure games, in that the screens don’t simply scroll left or right, they pan around 360 degrees (assuming your location allows it). To keep your bearings, a handy compass is available on screen. As the character moves closer to or further away from the "camera", he will appear larger or smaller.
Although the panning and depth effects are visually pleasing, they can make the fighting somewhat difficult, as you may be behind a foreground object or far enough from the camera to really see which way you're facing. Unlike previous Quest for Glory games which cut to a separate screen and interface for fighting, the fighting in Dragon Fire takes place on the same gameplay screen as everything else. This gives it a more realistic approach, as it is quite possible for multiple enemies to attack you simultaneously from different angles and distances. Fortunately (especially if you find yourself dead a lot), there is a difficulty setting for fighting. The game also automatically saves before entering a potentially harmful situation. The interface itself can be as simple or complex as you’d like. You can either use the mouse and continuously click on the character who is attempting to bully you, or use the keyboard for that more detailed approach which allows you a couple of different attacks and evasive maneuvers.
Of course, in the tradition of all Sierra adventures, be prepared to use your mind as well. There are dozens of different puzzles with a wide range of difficulty that will be presented to your character as the story unfolds. How you handle that puzzle will depend on things such as what type of character you are playing (i.e., you wouldn’t break down the door like a fighter if you were a thief; you’d pick the lock and sneak in). In essence, this potentially gives you three to four separate ways of playing, as you have the option of being a fighter, wizard, thief, or importing a paladin (who is a like a fighter, only a LOT nicer).
During gameplay, I encountered a few minor problems that were addressed and fixed via a downloadable patch (or by using the Sierra Utilities program installed with the game).
Wow! Simply amazing. This is one of fewer and fewer games these days that doesn’t use any type of 3D hardware acceleration. The backgrounds are superb. The characters are quite nice also. One really nice effect with the characters is how their depth changes when moving further away from or closer to the camera. Like the animation, the depth transition of the characters is quite fluid. There is also great attention to detail in this department. For instance, if your character is standing doing nothing for a while, he might scratch his leg or yawn. This makes for wonderful effects all around. Speaking of effects, they are sensational in this game. For instance, if you are carrying a magical weapon, you might see something resembling glowing pixie dust falling from it when walking around; if you’re wearing magical armor, you’ll have a certain glow about you. Also, each inventory item and spell has a nifty little animated graphic along with its description on the appropriate screen.
The only gripe I have here is related to the poor quality of high resolution on my video card. When in 800 x 600 mode, the game was virtually unplayable (due to not being able to move the mouse properly), no matter how small I sized the screen. Sierra’s technical support was as helpful and courteous as possible to help resolve this situation. Dropping to 640 x 480 solved the problem.
The audio tracks are good enough that Sierra decided to release a separate CD with the music tracks on it (an order form is in the back of the manual). As always, Sierra does a wonderful job of synchronizing the music to the environment and/or situation. The audio effects and voices in this game are clean and crisp. Each character has his or her own voice, which generally suits individual style. Like the graphics, each spell and inventory item also has a sound to go with that particular item when on the appropriate screen. In general, be sure to play with the sound turned up.
Yes, every copy will run on both PC and Macintosh. How’s that for compatibility?
Windows 95/98 minimums: Pentium 166MHz, 6x CD-ROM drive, 32 MB RAM, 350 MB free hard disk space, SVGA 640 x 480 in 16-bit high color (DirectX compatible), DirectX compatible sound card. Windows preferred: Pentium 200MHz, 8x CD-ROM drive.
Macintosh minimums: Mac OS 7.5 or higher, 120MHz PowerPC, 6x CD-ROM drive, 32 MB RAM, 350 MB free hard disk space, 16-bit video (thousands of colors). Macintosh preferred: 180MHz, 8x CD-ROM drive.
Reviewed on: Pentium 233MMX, Diamond Stealth 2000 in 640x480, 64 MB RAM
Just because you graduated from the Famous Adventurer’s Correspondence School a while back doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from this just yet. Your seventy-page guide to Silmaria (ok, it’s an instruction manual too) is jam-packed with all you need to get you started on your quest. While especially helpful for those who have not played a Quest for Glory game, it is also handy for the more seasoned adventurer. It explains the sights to see, monsters you can expect to fight, new items and skills available to you, and, of course, local language complete with useful phrases such as "Good Day," "Please," "Thank You," "Where is the toilet, please?" and "Caution, Moose Crossing". As if that isn’t enough, you also get this handy-dandy quick reference card showing you all the default keystrokes available. This card is extremely useful until you memorize the keys.
Dragon Fire is a wonderful blend of adventure, puzzle-solving, action, storyline and humor. There are very few (if any) games out there these days which fit all these categories. This is a must-play game for any Quest for Glory fan and is bound to make those new to the series devout followers. It is my pleasure to give this game a score of 95 points. Hats off to Lori Cole and the whole Quest for Glory team for another success.