Azrael's Tear is a deep, thought-provoking story based on the premise that the Knights Templar, the twelfth century elite commando group of twelve spirited knights whose mission for mankind revolved around protection of the Holy Grail, are still actively guarding the holy relic awaiting some sign that its healing powers are needed topside again. Unfortunately, the very substance the Grail is made of has a mutative property which has horribly affected the good Knights' demeanor as well as that of the denizens still living in the grailstone caverns deep underground. It is through meaningful interaction with this once proud clan of heroic guardians, now sadly decaying in both mind and body, that the logically designed story unfolds. As you wander from location to location, confronting the ghastly knights and the mutated creatures inhabiting this dark realm, you strive to recover the ultimate prize (the Grail) by solving intelligent puzzles and piecing together important clues culled from ancient letters and books you discover during your foraging. Indeed, this aspect of the game is the high point of Azrael's Tear. The compelling story is played out nicely and with good pace and pulls you deeper and deeper into the quest.
Unfortunately, the engine that brings the action to life on-screen isn't quite so compelling. The graphics are a feast to the eyes, however, as the thematic atmosphere is superbly rendered through implementation of a stark division between the murky, gloomy, and decaying portions of the environment you encounter and the sections filled with unexpectedly contrasting splendor and beauty. The interface is smooth enough, but the game's performance is diluted by use of anything less than a Pentium-class computer. Movement is for the most part gracefully accomplished in a scrolling 3D first-person perspective and by the thoughtful inclusion of an auto-resolution mode that allows you to adjust the setting between speed (performance) and graphics (resolution). A simple keystroke gives you the option of four settings, from the highest resolution (intensive graphics) to the lowest (speed), and a computer-controlled automatic adjustment keyed to your game environment and action. Because the game is basically a traditional adventure relying on puzzle solving which includes lever manipulation, awareness of environmental details, and discovery of important objects, this aspect is very important, owing to the need for clarity in certain locations.
The MS-2 headgear features include a Heads Up Display (HUD), health meter, compass, MS-7 Sniper semi-automatic machine gun, a very weak automapping capability, translation mode, and inventory scanner. It is by the use of this gadget that you also gain access to game utility options. Respective to other games in the adventure genre, Azrael's Tear offers nothing new or out of the ordinary except the better-than-average, provocative plot. Gorgeous graphics and quality music give the game an appeal above the normal run-of-the-mill fare but the slow and occasionally difficult control of the interface may irritate some gamers. Still, it is the intangibles that leave you with the odd feeling that the game could have been better than it is.
Graphics: 3D environment is crafted beautifully and the contrasts between the gloomy, decaying locations and the areas of beauty is startling and effective.
Sound: Music is above par although it has a tendency to disappear (unknown if this is by design or not) on occasion. Sound effects and voice acting (though a small cast) are well done.
Enjoyment: You'd think with graphics and sounds rating high, the game would be a tad more fun to play. Even though the story is great, the game has a definite plodding feel to it and seems at times as if you're working too hard. Still worthwhile, though.
Replay Value: Maybe just for the visual aspect and a reread of the story.
In Azrael's Tear you play a "raptor", a futuristic thief that raids ancient archaeological sites that have as yet been untouched by man for hundreds of years and are full of treasures.
Recently, due to geological disturbances, the supposed home of the Holy Grail is partially unearthed in northern Scotland. You go in to raid it of its treasures and, provided it exists, of the Holy Grail. When you enter, the entrance caves in behind you and you are stuck inside. Ah well, nothing to do but continue on to find what you came for...
The game utilizes a true 3D engine to display your surroundings, as in Quake. It's heavy on puzzles and light on combat. As you move further on into the ruins you'll encounter ghosts of the inhabitants and hints as to what happened to cause the ruins that surround you now.
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