The Last Dynasty
Oooh! A game that actually attempts to blend all the complexities of a strategy sim with the action and excitement of an arcade shoot em up AND virtually fat free! Sounds too good to be true? (Cue dodgy Lovejoy lookalike bloke in mini apron with bum hanging out muttering something about washing being dry.) As anyone who has eaten low-fat stuff will know, its very rarely as good, more often than not has the taste and consistency of panda phlegm and costs at least twice as much as the normal mix of artery hardening, cholesterol-packed gunk that we all know and love.
What, no shoulder pads?
So is it a case of buyer beware or SMAART-OLA!? Well, for a start its on two cds. Big deal" you may cry, sos The Best of Elton John and thats crap! But whooah there oh cautious cd-rom fiend, havent you heard about the cd-rom revolution thats sweeping the nation? Yep, the days of the psyggy game are well and truly numbered, cd-rom developers have finally grown up and figured out what to do with all that meg. Sure, you can still keep your fancy intros and soundtracks, but nowadays no product manager worth their weight in simms is going to force a game with no gameplay onto an unsuspecting public, are they?
So, two cds - sounds promising. Fullscreen, high-resolution graphics, 3D-rend-ered graphics, fractal landscapes, digitised photographs and video-captured actors -tell me more. Well, first impressions suggest that The Last Dynasty looks more like a game that was initially developed not for the pc but for a machine like Philips CD-i, in that its very cinematic, very big and quite a mish mash of action, strategy and live action - or to put it another way, multi-media with knobs on. On the negative side this usually translates as a bit of a melting pot as gameplay, fancy graphics and emv merge into one, often quite unspectacular, mess. On the positive side, though, it absolutely reeks atmosphere and plot, if its done properly, that is.
You play the part of a young hero raised on Earth who is suddenly hurled into a cosmic war that stretches across the galaxy. The Evil Masters have one half of the Ultimate Knowledge and you have the other half, secreted deep within your brain. You want their half and they want yours and as its in your head, they ultimately want you. Its up to you, then, to infiltrate The Evil Masters base, retrieve their half of the knowledge, blast them to bits and save mankind. Simple really.
A tale of two bit(ties)
As with just about every interactive thingy that has graced the pc screen so far, the actors have obviously been plucked from the Which Cameras On? School of Acting, but dont let that put you off. For as far as the blend of strategy and arcade goes, it all looks rather promising.
You get to fly around in various ships, blasting your way to freedom, navigate various Evil Master bases, running from and laying traps for the enemy and generally switching roles from swashbuckling-star hero to mastermind of rebel forces, as the game and situation dictate.
Last Dynasty is all very nicely woven together with video clips, fly-bys and the plot. Although its not exactly brimming over with originality, it does trot along nicely enough, giving the whole game a very professional feel.
The overriding impression is that the developers have taken a lot of time and effort to give the game a sense of pace and real player involvement. If you fail to accomplish a basic task or mission, destroy enough enemy ships or gain some vital piece of information, youre in trouble, and in this sense it provides the player with a great sense of purpose.
If this is an indication of things to come from the new multimedia revolution, then What ho Bertie! Sierra might just have cracked it.
Download The Last Dynasty
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Coktel Vision is a very strange development team indeed. This is the team that created Ween and Lost In Time: two visually astonishing and highly playable adventure games. Unfortunately, this is also the team that produced Inca 1 and 2, both of which had excellent adventure sections, but also had pathetic combat sections, which were graphically appalling and served only to ruin your enjoyment of the adventure parts.
Cut out the cut scenes!
The Last Dynasty sees an unwelcome return to the mixture of styles employed in the Inca games. The game is divided into three separate parts: two combat sections and one long adventure section. To get to the adventure, you must complete the first combat section. To give it its due, Coktel Vision has tried to make the combat parts more interesting this time round by introducing an element of strategy into the battle sequences. You can call up a map that shows you all the units in the battle; you can give orders to allied ships and generally control the whole show. The problem is, the battle sequences are completely ruined by cut-sequences showing totally irrelevant and useless video clips which pop up every ten seconds or so and drive you mad. I've lost count of the times I was just about to press the fire button and send some poor sucker into oblivion when lo and behold, up pops a video movie providing me with information that I believe I could have lived without.
There are six combat missions to get through in the first combat section. In the last of missions, you have to shoot down 50 enemy ships (yes, 50) before you get to the adventure section. However, when you do finally get to the adventure, you will discover it's up to Coktel's usual high standard.
Never ending story...
Without a doubt, the graphics are nothing less than absolutely stunning, and the interface for moving around and manipulating objects is a dream to use, and the story-line, while not as atmospheric as Ween, or as captivating as Lost In Time, is absorbing enough to hold your attention to the end of the adventure section.
The only problem is, if you want to get to the very end of the game itself, you'll have to plough through another long, boring combat section. I can't see anyone bothering with another few hours of irritating battle sections just to see a video scene with French actors in it telling us all how the story ended (the voiceovers are in English but obviously the French guys are speaking in French, so the end result is quite comical).
If you want to play a space combat game, buy one of the Wing Commander games. If you want to play an adventure game, buy one of the Coktel games I mentioned earlier or any of the recent LucasArts games.