Despite a few petty game playing complaints, Blue Byte Software's fantasy role-playing adventure Albion is a refreshing entry in the genre. Set in a vast environment ripe for exploration, namely the planet Albion, you play as Tom Driscoll, a pilot from the mother ship Toronto who crash lands on what was thought to be a barren world. As he discovers quickly, nothing could be further from the truth: Albion is teeming with alien races to interact with, places to explore, rich and varied landscapes, various useful equipment and items with which to build an inventory, and scads of magic and potions available for healing and enhancement of your character's abilities. As you explore, your party can increase by up to five additional members, each with their own inventory (backpacks), which becomes important as inventory size is limited by character strength. This restriction is a bit annoying, as you will constantly strive for the right balance of what items to keep and which to either sell or drop. Gold is the currency used in Albion and unfortunately it is not plentiful--you'll have to sell items at stores, usually for paltry sums, and spend lots of time in the wilderness (beyond town borders) fighting monsters to collect items to sell.
The process of battle in Albion is conducted via a turn-based grid system where you give orders to each of your characters. Each encounter has the potential to be a lengthy affair. A nice feature of combat is that as long as one of your party survives, those who lost all their hit points do not die, but can be revived after battle through potions or magic. In most towns and dungeons, the game switches to first-person perspective and the auto-mapping feature kicks in, whereas when exploring larger outdoor areas an angled third-person view is used to view your party, which moves in single file.
Although Albion suffers from several small shortcomings, they do not singly or collectively detract enough from the overall experience to render the game a disappointment. To name a few: In certain areas graphics are somewhat dated, exploring outside of towns and cities can be overly tedious at times with a paucity of rewards available for the time invested in diligent searching, combat can be unduly slow and/or long, and the story relies on a significant amount of text through dialogue and cut scenes to advance the background story and characters encountered. For those not enamored by this latter function, patience is ultimately rewarded, so hang in there. The high points of the game far outweigh these niggling complaints: It has an effective and absorbing storyline, many interesting NPCs to meet and interact with, involved and varied character development that relies on several factors (skills, experience, etc.), a fully defined alien environment to explore, a myriad of engaging spells to cast, and more. Albion provides an entertaining romp through an alien world and has plenty of classic RPG features to satisfy the wanderlust of most RPG fans.
Graphics: Visual backgrounds and overall layout are rich and varied. Overall alien look supports the storyline admirably but the VGA graphics tend to be grainy and overdone in places.
Sound: Nicely interwoven into the adventure and enhances the game playing experience.
Enjoyment: For those who enjoy old-fashioned RPGs with a rich story, varied landscapes, dungeons and towns to explore, and finely tuned interaction with NPCs, Albion will be a treat. The game is lengthy yet not boring--somewhat linear.
Replay Value: Might be worth another look simply for the visual experience of the alien environment but ultimately any replay won't add significantly to the wonder of the first time through.
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.
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