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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Strategy First

 

Developer

Innonics

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

March 19, 2002

 

 

- Good level of strategy involved

- Appeals to the human tendency to dig holes

- Good graphics

- Light-hearted sensibility

- Quick reflexes don’t enter the picture

 

 

- Action seems to putt-putt along at times

- If you have a lack-luster PC, graphics can lurch

- Inconsistent animation

- Micromanagement can get tiring

- No sound control

- Some problems issuing commands

 

 

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Diggles: The Myth of Fenris

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

In another review (C&C: Renegade) I posed the question about genre-transplants. In the case of Diggles: The Myth of Fenris, it’s more a matter of genre-infusion.  Diggles borrows elements from so many games (past and present) you might have trouble remembering them all.  Among others, these games include The Sims, Gobliiins, and Lemmings (minus the Armageddon option).  But Diggles doesn’t just copy convention from other games and put a new face on them.

 

diggles-1.jpg (39143 bytes)         diggles-2.jpg (39288 bytes)

 

At the outset, you’re given a seemingly impossible task: Fenris, the dog of Odin, has escaped and is wreaking havoc in the underworld, and it’s up to the Diggles (a happy-go-lucky bunch of dwarves) to create a new chain and capture Fenris.  Easy – dig some holes, find some rings, and defeat a huge demonic dog.  And also enjoyable, provided you have the necessary patience.

 

In comparison to other real-time strategy (RTS) games, like Red Alert, Diggles is a good-looking slug.  Red Alerts practically moves like a bolt of lightning and if you’re comfortable with that level of speed you might get frustrated with Diggles because the pace is much, much slower.  So slow sometimes, you’ll wonder if your selected Diggle will ever respond to your command.  And when they start working it’s hard to judge when the task will be completed.  Some of this can be traced to the Sims-like quality of your Diggles. (There are also the usual resource gathering aspects to worry about.)

 

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The game speed can be boosted to double and quadruple time but when you boost the game to these speeds you have no control over what’s happening.  It comes in handy when starting huge digging projects, but during the regular course of play, things happen much more slowly.  The slow game speed does make it easier to keep track of everything later on when you’re dealing with more Diggles (which have this habit of reproducing if given too much leisure 

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time – sorry, no graphic Diggle sex, the baby just shows up).  Older gamers may also appreciate the manageability that the speed gives them – a quick clicking finger doesn’t enter the equation – but there are a lot of things to keep track of.

 

Control is through a combination of mouse and keyboard and the tutorial does a good job of explaining everything while taking you through a bit of a prologue as to how the Diggles got the job of tracking down Fenris.  As mentioned above, it’s not always obvious that a Diggle has registered a command, making you click numerous times to make sure they’ll do what they’re asked to do.

 

The graphical presentation is one of Diggles best aspects – provided you’ve got the high-end hardware that Diggles is obviously aimed at.  On the minimum requirements the textures and detail necessarily have to be turned down making most of the game (close up) look splotchy.  The action is akin to viewing an ant farm – although everything is 3D you (thankfully) don’t have to worry about that troublesome Z-axis.  Camera control is solid and easy to use – pan, rotate, etc.  Animation is inconsistent.  Most of the complicated tasks move smoothly and look convincing.  But the most mundane tasks (i.e. walking) look stiff, like there are a few frames of animation missing from the end of the cycle.

 

The music background for Diggles is very good – I listened to the tunes (in handy MP3 format) even while away from the game.  Sound effects are sparse, and when they do happen they’re muted.  During the cutscenes the sound strikes a much better balance. (There’s no option to adjust the sound settings.)

 

Although the campaign mode is pretty good and should keep gamers occupied for a reasonable number of hours, the inclusion of a skirmish mode was a wise decision because without multiplayer, replayability is somewhat limited.

 

diggles-3.jpg (39534 bytes)          diggles-4.jpg (34594 bytes)

 

Another strong aspect of Diggles is its sensibility.  It’s lighthearted and amusing – they put the “Diggles” title to good use.  Some of their idle animations are done very well and really show the character of the Diggles. (How many characters tasked with tracking down a nefarious canine like to knit in their spare time?)  Over time, I found myself able to identify a little with the Diggles – God help me!

 

In the end, Diggles: The Legend of Fenris is a fairly straightforward and amusing RTS game.  It’s pace will kill the game for some, but others not so experienced in the RTS genre will appreciate the accessibility the speed affords.  The genre infusion works for the most part, but there are some rough edges.

 

- Omni

(April 4, 2002)

 

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