What sets Oregon Trail II apart from similar Mecc games such as Amazon Trail and Africa Trail? For one thing, the game is much easier than the more modern-day games. Oh, there is still a better than normal chance your character will die en route to Oregon but the game's difficulty is set by the type of character you play.
Profession, in this game, is more than just skills. It also influences how much money the player has to spend, from the Banker, who starts out with $2000 (a small fortune in those days), to the Artist, near the bottom of the scale with only $500 to spend on everything, including the wagon. The players can also choose the starting city for their travels and where the wagon train will be going, either Oregon or Sacramento, California.
Players travel in the wagon train of their choice upon leaving the starting town. Before they can leave, however, they must purchase supplies and animals to pull their wagon. In town, they can also ask advice of anyone they meet. Each character has his or her own bit of wisdom to impart and following the advice can save plenty of time and money.
Along the trail, players will be notified as they reach landmarks, towns or forts and when they are required to cross a river and ascend or descend a hill. The choices made at these spots can result in death, the loss of supplies or damage to wagons and beasts. At any stop along the trail, players can ask the advice of the other travelers or the trail guide.
If the player does well, he will suffer a minimum loss of food and items. And the wagon train will maintain high morale. Players can find other things as well. Abandoned wagons, disease, thirst, flies, Indians, wild animals and vegetables are just a few things players can find, depending on their luck.
If and when players make it to Oregon, they can file a claim for land, see their score or just observe what happens to their character in the future. The final score is based on how far they traveled and how much money they have left compared to the amount with which they started. If they do good enough, their scores can be posted on the top ten list.
Pictures and quick-time movies enliven the trip and players will gain a real sense of accomplishment in helping their chosen settlers survive. Far from being a "once through only" type of game, players can vary the level of difficulty through optional settings as well as the type of characters they chose to play. Players will also pick up interesting snippets about the old west and the type of people who chose to become settlers.
Graphics: Digitized footage, though some of the same actors show up over and over again.
Sound: Well done. The voices sound more or less authentically western and the background sounds are very realistic.
Enjoyment: Far from being frustrating, players can enjoy this game over and over again. Can players make it from Greenhorn to Trail Veteran?
Replay Value: By changing professions and difficulty levels, the players always have something more to aspire to.
Oregon Trail II is a sequel to Oregon Trail. The game follows the basic structure of the predecessor, which is a simulation of traveling through towns and wilderness in the state of Oregon, with adventure-like gameplay elements and educational material. The sequel changes, enhances, and adds many gameplay features.
In the beginning of the game players choose their name, occupation, level, date of travel, starting point and destination, as well as the type of wagon. The game also allows the player to create virtual companions for the journey, designating their number, names, and ages. As opposed to one year in the first game, the sequel allows the player to choose between twenty years of travel, from 1840 to 1860.
The player is able to choose an occupation for the protagonist, such as banker, doctor, gunsmith, carpenter, journalist, butcher, pastor, artist, and many others. Different occupations bestow various bonuses to the protagonist, and are equipped with passive skills, which will influence the rate of success during certain random events and activities. For example, a high medical skill will make it more likely that the protagonist recovers from a disease; sharpshooting skill contributes to the instant-kill rate when hunting animals, etc.
The game retains the supply-managing, trading, sailing, and most other elements of its predecessor. There are more interactive events in the sequel, as the protagonist is able to consult other characters and react differently to some of the events that might occur during the journey.
While the number of different Oregon Trail versions challenges any collection to be comprehensive, this edition includes all the major MECC releases since the game hit personal computers.
*The Oregon Trail, version 2.1 for MS-DOS, ported to Windows
*The Oregon Trail for Macintosh, version 1.2
*Oregon Trail Deluxe VGA, version 3.01 for MS-DOS, ported to Windows
*Oregon Trail for Windows, from 1993
*Oregon Trail II for both Macintosh and Windows
Additionally, a 12-minute video history covers the evolution of this seminal game back to its mainframe origins in the 1970's, including screen sequences, interviews with developers, and even a reminisce with the Minnesota teacher credited with its conception.
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