SSI took a giant leap technologically over their previous AD&D games with Dark Sun: Shattered Lands. However, despite being a good game, it is not as much fun as their first series that began with Pool of Radiance.
Graphics are the major draw for this game. Half of the back of the package specifically talks about the graphics: "Imagine your entire screen filled with stunning graphics and cinematics...Full-blown 16-bit engine...the game features smooth animation and gameplay...all with rich detail and realism." Although Dark Sun: Shattered Lands is two-dimensional it does feature three-dimensional effects. Characters are viewed from the side while the landscapes contain objects that they can maneuver around.
Creating a party of characters is something that is always a lot of fun. Typical of SSI games, full customization of your party is allowed. Players can choose a character's race, class, alignment, name, and roll for their ability scores. Equipping characters is simple with a point-and-click interface that also controls player movements.
Gameplay is slow at times as the overall map is not extremely interesting with the land you are in being a desert. There are a lot of open spaces to travel across and there is also not a whole lot to find. Only a few cities exist, most of which are fairly small. Walking in circles tends to occur often as you need to backtrack to locate an item. Drawing a basic map as you progress might be a good idea since, unfortunately, no map is included with the game.
As you walk along monsters can be seen roaming as well. When the party is close to a monster a battle ensues. Battles are turn-based and are very similar to those found in Pool of Radiance. Each character takes their turn individually and can choose from numerous options such as attack, cast magic, or move.
Dark Sun: Shattered Lands looks and plays well but is on the short side. Also, the storyline does not grab the player. Escaping from slavery is cool but that only occurs in the very beginning, the rest of the game is not as interesting. After reading the first Dark Sun five book series, a better plot was certainly expected. However, the end of the game does feature a large and challenging battle making completion worth the effort.
Graphics: Characters and landscapes are all very detailed.
Sound: Music and effects add to the overall atmosphere.
Enjoyment: Not as much fun as previous SSI titles but stays true to the AD&D universe.
Replay Value: Too short and a weak storyline won't bring many players back after they complete the game.
Dark Sun: Shattered Lands is an AD&D game based off of the Dark Sun campaign pack from TSR. In the beginning of the game, the player controls a party of gladiators. It opens up with a fight with a multitude of monsters in an arena. After the battle the party are sent back to the slave pens to wait for their next match. They talk to some of the other gladiators in the slave pens and escape (if they can) to help the free villages established by other escaped slaves. Eventually they must fight back against the totalitarian city-state of Draj and the large army they will soon send to wipe out all of the slave villages.
The game has a mouse interface and is basically point and click to move around, equip the party, talk to people, pick up things, etc. The gameplay is faithful to AD&D's rules in most cases.
People who downloaded Dark Sun: Shattered Lands have also downloaded:
Dark Sun 2: Wake of the Ravager, Eye of The Beholder 3, Pool of Radiance, Eye of The Beholder 1, Eye of The Beholder 2, Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession, Menzoberranzan, Ravenloft: Stone Prophet
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