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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RPG

 

Publisher

Interplay

 

Developer

Black Isle

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 1999

 

 

- Very nice graphics

- Spiffy spells

- Great voice acting

- Lovable characters

- Rich story

- Very high quality audio

 

 

- Pathfinding trouble

- Very small menu buttons

- Lack of ranged weapons

 

 

Review: Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (PC)
Review: Icewind Dale II (PC)

Review: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (PC)

 

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Planescape Torment

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Batten down the hatches, let the answering machine do its thing, and keep some snack food on standby, because Planescape Torment is one of those RPGs with such a deep, rich story that  it demands every ounce of the players attention. Utilizing the same engine found in Baldurís Gate, this game brings some very nice graphics, engaging characters brimming with personality, a straightforward menu system, and a great battle system for players to sink their teeth into. However, seeing as it is the Baldurís Gate engine that is in use there are some minor issues brought to the game because of it. Thankfully they are small problems, easily overlooked as the game overflows with quality storytelling, and solid gameplay, making for a fantastic journey well worth taking.

 

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With a story as strong as the one found in Planescape it is very easy to lose track of time, trying to gather a bit more information that will help to further the quest. In the game players take on the role of the Nameless One, a scarred, mysterious chap who canít seem to remember his past. After coming to in a mortuary he meets Morte, a disembodied, wisecracking skull, and from there theyíre off to discover the Nameless Oneís past, gaining more party members along the way. Itís so nice to see a game where the point of the quest is to save oneís self, as opposed to the world / kingdom / universe. It really becomes evident just how rich the story is once engaged in conversation. Dialogue plays a powerful role in this game as conversations can give players a wealth of knowledge as to what they must do. Itís not the typical, "Go get the magic diaper and give it to Beeb the Great Walrus to find your answers" sort of chitchat here. When conversing with the NPCs of Planescape itís like something one may find in a good fantasy novel, everything flowing 

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smoothly and being far more fleshed out. Talking to people is so important, in fact, that having a high intelligence actually allows for more response options. Heck, players can even get experience points if they play their cards right (and sometimes itís quite a bit).

 

While not honing the art of conversation players will have a good deal of monster bashing to do. Battles take the same approach as Baldurís Gate, where players fight 

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in real-time but can pause the game and strategize if needed. Choosing what to do is very straightforward without any complicated menu switching to deal with. Just right-click, pick an action, and thatís it. Magic really shines in battle as the effects provide some very nice visuals. Lightning blasts, Ignusí fine collection of fire magic, and a myriad of other spells are great to watch.

Itís not just the magic effects that provide some pretty sights, the character design and the looks of the environments are very well done as well. In regards to image quality the visuals are very similar to that of Baldurís Gate, but the design and layout of the graphics in Planescape really helps to add to the whole feel of the game, providing a dark, macabre motif.

Standing tall along side the visuals are the sounds. The effects are of a very high quality and the music is moody without becoming overbearing, stepping too much into the spotlight. However it is the excellent voice acting that stands tallest amidst the audio delights. There is personality a plenty to be found in every utterance of the gameís cast of characters. From Dakíronís almost monotone, meditative demeanor, to Annisí brashness, to Morteís nonstop comic antics, Planescapeís voice acting is some of the best around.

But for all of the greatness that the game has packed into it there are still some issues lurking. First and foremost is that it suffers from some of the problems found in the Baldurís Gate engine. Pathfinding is still a major problem for party members making a lot of micro-management necessary. Second, while menus are easy to navigate the buttons are way too small. Fumbling around, trying to get into the inventory or a spell book can be a pain at times. Third there are almost no ranged weapons to be had in the game, but since itís setup so that characters are up close and personal the omission is understandable, nonetheless a few more ranged weapons would have been handy. But these are all minor problems that are very easily overlooked, as the sheer quality of the overall gaming experience is so great.

Planescape Torment is a top notch RPG through and through. With a wonderful aesthetic and engaging story players have a lot of too enjoy in this title, and possibly a lot of sleep to lose too as they play into the wee hours lost in its world.

- Mr. Nash

 

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