The game arrives on three disks with an Amiga supplement (and an addendum -see later). Adventurer's Journal and Rule Book. Only gamers with 1 Meg Amigas need apply here. When you start you can get a quick look at the game via the built-in demo or you can load a pre-rolled party to have a wander around. Strangely, the reference card advises you to save your game every hour. Is this a reference to the Amiga itself or are SSI admitting that their game is a bit shaky? The most damning pari of the installation is the addendum which pours cold water over the hard drive installation instructions listed in the reference sheet. In fact, a hard drive cannot be used. SSI's reasons are pretty poor "Due to the size and the scope of this game...blah, blah." Oh, come on SSI! It looks like SSI can't reclaim the RAM that is taken by a hard drive. This is crazy as we're talking about a 1 Meg-only game, here. It looks like SSI can't be bothered to solve the problem so they've taken the easy way out by disregarding hard drives totally.
As the game begins, your characters have been robbed of all but one small purse of gold while celebrating a successful job of guarding a caravan. They swear to find the thief and avenge themselves. After re-equipping as best they can, the party meets Krevish, who gets them a new commission. In the course of fulfilling this commission, they discover a threat to the Sword Coast from the Zhentarim. It is up to the party to foil this threat. Initially the battles are challenging, but once your characters get above level 3. combat becomes easy until the final confrontation. However, the mazes are tough. You have to go back to Pool of Radiance to find mazes as tough as Gateway's, and the puzzles are equal to those in Secret of the Silver Blades (except there is no Well of Knowledge to give you the answers). The ending is problematic. It is possible to kill the main villain, but the end-game sequence ignores the fact that the party killed him. The final battle is based on an original idea that makes it interesting and challenging. However, there is a very legitimate trick that permits an easy win. You can continue to play after end-game, but the overall situation doesn't change in any way. The side effects of the Zhentarim plot continue. This may be deliberate, as the overall plot of the series seems to be to foil a Zhentarim master plan. This quest makes only a small dent in the plan. Still, showing some effect of the defeat would have been more satisfying.
As with the previous gold box games, the user interface is a mixture of improvements and disappointments. The Fix command now also memorizes spells, but the automatic joining of items from Death Knights of Krynn and the scroll bundles from Secret of the Silver Blades is not available. The automatic spell memorizing does not allow you to memorize additional spells your characters get when they advance a level. A separate Memorize is still needed for that.
The artwork is the best yet in the gold box series. The giants, trolls, and ogres are not only more reali- stically sized, but are much more menacing looking. There is one exception: The lizardmen look like pot-bellied lounge lizards rather than horrible monsters.
Gateway to the Savage Frontier is a decent RPG with a proven, if rather staid, design. However, a number of design imperfections prevent it from being as good as it should have been.
People who downloaded Gateway to the Savage Frontier have also downloaded:
Secret of the Silver Blades, Champions of Krynn, Dark Queen of Krynn, Eye of the Beholder, Death Knights of Krynn, Eye of the Beholder 2, Pools of Darkness, Hillsfar
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