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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Ubi Soft

 

Developer

Stormfront Studios

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2001

 

 

- Nice cut-scenes

- Cool music

 

 

- Crappy camera angles

- Stiff annoying controls

- Diluted graphics and plain environment

- Poor combat system

 

 

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The Legend of Alon D’ar

Score: 4 / 10

 

The Legend of Alon D’ar is unfortunately a bland idea that could have been much better if it wasn’t rushed and severely unpolished. Theoretically it’s a good game adhering to the most typical of fantasy environments but it falls flat in most of the important spots. Diluted, saucy graphics, aggravating camera angles, a crappy combat system and questionable controls make LoAD not a whole lot more than its acronym suggests.

 

legend-of-alon-dar-1.jpg (42368 bytes)          legend-of-alon-dar-2.jpg (58877 bytes)

 

The game quickly spoon-feed’s you cliché number one in the RPG handbook – you’re a young man named Jarik whose village and world is in trouble and you’re apparently the only one who can save it. In the first seven minutes of the game you’re sent out of the village to begin your quest. While you move along you run into non-playable characters who will set you off on side quests like collecting lost items but the missions are mostly mechanical and require little thought but plenty of search and find. The opening cinema was actually entertaining and believable – more so than the bulk of the game play. In one scene a young holy woman explains to Jarik that she’s searching for something to "set fire to her spirit". He slyly replies, "Perhaps I have something that can set fire to your spirit". When she enquires he responds – "I will gladly show you".

 

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But alas, weak stories are forgivable if other aspects of a game hold solid. Regrettably, the next stop on the Alon D’ar train is yet again Dullsville. Graphically it looks like a late generation PS1 title with slight geometric enhancements. Things seem to melt together a little too much and textures are grubby and undefined. The antagonist and protagonist character models are almost equally simplistic and unimaginative as are the special effects and featureless environments. The characters are a little 

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too small and the difficult camera system doesn’t help - the entire game is experienced from an elevated angle behind Jarik’s head, which cuts out your view of what’s up ahead and limits your vision to a circle of ground. You can pan the camera around but it only helps to change direction.

 

Although worst things have been forgiven in the face of alluring game play and control our next stop is Stiffandboringville. The game consists of many small and large boring tasks. Finding lost items, killing monsters and helping various people. It becomes so tedious you wonder why your wasting your time. Moving your character around the huge environment is also more than a chore – he moves really slowly and there is no speed variation button.

 

legend-of-alon-dar-3.jpg (42923 bytes)          legend-of-alon-dar-4.jpg (59715 bytes)

 

The combat system could be regarded as innovative but it turns out to be a convoluted, laborious version of what we’re used to. You move around the game world on foot – there’s no difference between the world map and the villages you encounter. While the battles are turn-based, they’re never random and the setting doesn’t change when you enter battle, it takes place right where you encounter the enemy. Enemies walk around so you can see and avoid them but sometimes you’ll get sucked into a battle with an enemy that is more than half a screen away. At first you’ll be mauled by them so quickly you won’t know what’s going on – you have to wait for an energy bar to refill in order to strike but the enemy’s bar seems to refill two to three times faster. You find yourself simply hitting the attack button and replenishing your energy.

 

Later in the game more skill becomes involved as you acquire new party-members and proficiency points which help to level up your character but the battle system stays mediocre at best. Throw in a cheaply devised, clunky inventory system and it’s hard to feel that the game is truly complete. The music is actually a strong point with semi-Celtic, medieval sounding tunes pulsing through out the game. The sound effects do their job but it’s nothing to write home about.

 

legend-of-alon-dar-5.jpg (70227 bytes)          legend-of-alon-dar-6.jpg (39621 bytes)

 

In the end I would say LoAD suffers from a serious lack of creative thought and/or revision. I could see where they were going I just don’t want to be where they went. With so many great RPG’s out there and fifty times that amount of great RPG ideas never explored it perplexes me that this game was ever released. Deep down inside there are nice little nuggets of enjoyment to be found in this game but with so much else to play why spend the time mining for them.

 

- Doug Flowe

 

(March 30, 2002)

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