Simon The Sorcerer 3D
|a game by||Headfirst Productions|
|User Rating:||6.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Adventuresoft have learned their lessons the hard way. Having admitted making mistakes with The Feeble Files, they next realised they'd misjudged the direction adventure games were heading. Having spent almost a million pounds and finished more than 70 per cent of the artwork and design for Simon The Sorcerer 3, it came as a bit of a shock to realise they couldn't find a publisher interested in 2D adventure games. Consequently the game was scrapped and work started again on a spanking new 3D version, using the Prince Of Persia 3 engine. "It was a bit of an emotional day when I broke the news to the team," admits Mike Woodroffe, Adventuresoft's Managing Director.
Still, the result is a new Simon The Sorcerer adventure that looks stunning, and a company that is now extremely positive about their future. Not that they have any delusions of grandeur. "We don't have the resources of LucasArts," says Simon Woodroffe, Simon 3D's Creative Director and Mike's brother, "where you can get a game out in nine months and then switch styles again. We have to aim for the future and hope that it's caught up by the time we get there." Simon 3D certainly looks like a game of tomorrow. The 3D engine is extremely impressive, enabling masses of texturing detail, and they've even managed to avoid the standard 3Dfx 'close-up blurring' syndrome. What we get is a 3D engine that manages to make even games like Unreal look bland.
Simon 3D has a fully active world to explore, rather than static locations that are only used when you walk into them. "It's all necessary for creating a good atmosphere," explains Simon. "That's what adventures need more than anything, that attention to detail, the polish to give them a real bloody atmosphere that drags you into the game and makes you feel like you're part of the environment, that it's really happening."
This Is The End
There will also be at least four different endings, all reliant on the way you solve the game's puzzles. Multiple solutions don't just mean that the same puzzle can be solved in slightly different ways, but that most puzzles actually have different outcomes depending on your actions.
It's still a long way off - Simon 3D's release date isn't till next year - but it's already looking like one of the favourites in the 3D adventure game race. And there are a lot of competitors.
Download Simon The Sorcerer 3D
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
The King's Quest, Prince Of Persia and Indiana Jones series of PC adventures have all recently undergone dramatic changes. Gone are the 2D backgrounds, in their place new, glorious 3D environments have appeared. Admittedly, some attempts (like Prince Of Persia 3D) have fallen a bit flat, but generally most developers deserve a big pat on the back - the new 3D adventure genre is evolving spectacularly. It comes as no great surprise then to find the highly successful Simon The Sorcerer series getting the same treatment. But what is surprising is that it looks like developers Headfirst Productions has enough tricks up its sleeve to actually take this fledging genre further than we've ever seen before.
Simon will eventually boast over 30 separate expressions including laughter, tears, anger, and total brown trouser fear. Simon's realtime gurning antics will also give an indication of what to expect next. If our wannabe wizard is looking a bit worried, you can expect trouble. If he's skipping through fields of joy with a big grin on his face, you know that everything is going as planned.
This graphical attention to detail should also improve the effectiveness of the interface. Headfirst has gone into Grim Fandango territory here, so, when Simon sees something interesting or fundamental to the plot, he turns his head, raises his eyebrows and looks straight at it.
A box at the top of the screen then displays A the object or A person that Simon is looking at and gives you appropriate actions to W perform on said article. Simple. As far as puzzles go you can expect classic adventure fare. Find the golden cow, pull its golden udders, put stuff in mouth and become invincible. The 3D environment changes nothing in that respect. Like the brilliant Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, the gameplay is completely puzzle-led. However, unlike Indy's latest outing, SS3D doesn't contain the slightest hint of combat. Simon can die, but it's in a kind of'Oops, I've messed up the puzzle' fall-into-a-ravine kind of death. This doesn't mean there's a lack of action and excitement though - Simon is armed with a yo-yo. you know...
Talk To Me Baby
Overall, attention to detail is really quite impressive. Film director Tom Lawsy has been brought in to advise on fixed camera angles, and they've also invited Bryan Bowles (the same thespian who did Simon's voice on the second game) back for a further 10,000 lines of dialogue.
In fact, the speech interface is something the team has worked on studiously. As with the previous two games, the player has a choice of about four responses in any given situation. However, unlike its prequels, SS3D contains a 'banter mode' that filters out the gibberish, giving you the basic facts. The idea being that it will lead, hopefully, to a smoother flowing playing experience.
And then there's the humour. The good news is that it's business as usual in that department. The team has remained faithful to its satirical values in creating something that is very English and very Monty Python. It even has a stab at the games industry itself with subtle digs at clich^d plots like Nintendo's Zelda.
Other abstract references appear too. Astute retro-gamers will notice The Hobbit arcade game in one of the local pubs. Even stranger is the inclusion of some totally weird subgames. Ever played conkers on a PC? Didn't think so.
The world Simon finds himself in is big and beautiful. There are nine areas to solve including a temple, forest, city, swamp and fortress. There are tons of characters too - 80 of the blighters to be exact. We're even promised a huge plot twist at the end of the game.
Overall it looks as if this third (and apparently not final) instalment is the shape of things to come as far as Simon's concerned. So look out Indy, 3D Simon is hot on your heels.
All Work And No Play...
Here are just a few of the strange subgames you're likely to find. Oh yes, they're a weird bunch at Headfirst - for starters they come from Birmingham, you know.
The classic playground game comes to the PC at long last Hopefully you'll be able to save your conker and play it against other people, although somehow that's doubtful.
Direct your own firework display (or something). Details are sparse on this one, but we're reliably informed that this is actually a very important part of the whole game.
Get really pissed up in your local and start hurling darts at the wall. We did ask if they were going to include a pool table too, but we just got strange looks.
Swing higher than your friends and see who's first to fly off. Alternatively, see If you can make the entire frame fall over. Great fun.