In Albion it is the year 2227, and you take the role of Tom Driscoll, space pilot for the powerful DDT Corporation. DDT has sent a factory ship called the Toronto to harvest minerals and resources from Albion, a newly discovered desert world barren of life but rich in resources.
Tom is sent to take some atmospheric readings on the planet, but crash lands after an apparently accidental systems failure of his shuttle. Upon reviving from the accident he is shocked to discover Albion is in fact a rich, life-filled world inhabited by many alien life-forms. It then becomes his task to explore the strange new world and locate the Toronto. His quest becomes even more urgent when it becomes apparent that the AI guiding Toronto is determined to destroy this life-filled world in the name of big business.
There are actually two modes in the RPG, 2D and 3D. The 2D mode takes place in the overworld and inside buildings, and is a top-down perspective similar to Ultima 7. Navigation is through the mouse which you can use to move around, and click on things to interact with them. There's also a 3D mode for the villages and dungeons.
Combat is turned-based and planned on a 2D 6x6 square grid, and the actual animation occurs in 3D.
You are the commander of a small space shuttle which is making a reconnaissance flight for a big factory ship, when suddenly all your systems crash, you lose control, and are forced to land on a wild and unknown planet. I know the story doesn't seem very original so far, but it will get better very soon.
You are the pilot Tom Driscoll, and you have to prepare yourself for the space shuttle flight. The short prologue will introduce you to the character of Tom, and you'll also find out useful facts about your mission.
However, something happened while your character was asleep: A crew member committed suicide. Since the officers and the captain want to find out what happened, a whole section of the ship has been cordoned off by the security guards. Now you have to make your first decision: Will you go to your shuttle and leave the ship, or will you snoop around, find out something about the murder, and discover some useful items? Your decision isn't crucial for the rest of the game, but you will learn more about the controls and how to solve problems in the game if you stay on the ship. Also, some items on the ship will make later adventures much easier.
Anyway, when you embark on the shuttle, you will get to know Rainer, a scientist who should help you with any problems you might have on the flight. He is also a very important and helpful character. After you crash, your first overwhelming impressions of this strange jungle world will soon be crushed as your shuttle explodes.
After you regain consciousness, you are surrounded by the strange but beautiful Iskai (cat creatures), who won't eat you - for now. Through skillful negotiations and good manners you will quickly earn the trust of the Iskai and a fantastic journey begins.
Albion is one of those RPGs for which I can only say the following: If you've never got around to playing it, then you don't know what a good RPG is! It doesn't have realistic 3D graphics or a big character menu like modern games, but Albion does have its own charm. The graphics are good (2D birds-eye perspective AND 3D first person perspective), the sounds are various and convey a great atmosphere, and the controls are simple and easy to learn.
Fights are round-based (don't scream), but nevertheless very exciting. As on a chessboard, you will have to move your characters and bring them into position. Also, you will have to react to the movements of the enemy. There is a large selection of weapons you can use. First of all, there are short-range weapons like swords, axes and staves, and also long-range weapons like bows, pistols (!) and crossbows. Since it's an RPG, there are of course also spells at your disposal. You can also choose among many types of armor.
Another very positive point is the quantity of items in the game. Every item has a function and a value. Always try out items that you find in your adventures. Be sure to take them with you if you think they could be important, or sell them at the next dealer. With the gold you receive, you can buy new equipment for your characters. (I'll give you one tip: It doesn't help if you store all your gold, because the total mass of items your characters can carry is limited, and so is the space in cupboards and chests. Make money and buy new and better equipment for your characters. This makes the game easier.)
Apart from armor and weapons, you will have to buy food. Because your characters become tired after only a couple of fights or long walks, let them rest periodically.
However, all these great things are nothing compared to the story itself. It features many (and I mean MANY) surprises and is very gripping. After a few hours' playing and getting immersed in the storyline, you simply can't stop! But be careful. The game is long, and you won't finish it in a few hours (it took me 2 weeks). There are also some new surprises and things to discover if you play it several times.
All in all, Albion is one of the best RPGs ever. A gripping story, a wonderful world, interesting characters, and very good sounds and good graphics make this game a must-have for any RPG-fan, as well as any other player. It deserves a clear 5, though I would give it a 10 if I could.
Albion is a severely underrated RPG from the makers of two Thalion hits Amberstar and Ambermoon, which became instant hits on the Amiga but unknown on the PC. The game shines with a richly detailed story, a huge and well-realized gameworld, a novel use of both 2D and 3D views, and some unique puzzles that are a far cry from the normal find-a-button-to-open-door puzzles found in most RPGs. As Tom Driscoll, a pilot who crash-landed on the exotic planet of Albion, you will make many friends and foes in your quest to find the mothership Toronto. The game is truly an epic adventure that spans vast areas and cities, all of which are teeming with colorful characters who always seem to have something to say. Puzzles are adventure-game style (i.e. use items from your inventory) mixed with standard find-secret-door-and-avoid-traps puzzles. None of them is dull, however, because each building and dungeon you enter is so well detailed and differentiated from each other, that exploration is never boring. With great graphics, fun 3D combat sequences, and a truly epic and captivating plot that could make a real novel, Albion is simply a must-have for all scifi & fantasy RPG fans. Highly recommended, especially to fans of Wizardry games.
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