Betrayal in Antara has a fully developed storyline designed to involve the player at the detailed human level and focuses on the trials and tribulations of the main character in such a manner that a certain suspension of disbelief is possible. This is adventuring at the gut level and, for the most part, the game pulls it off quite nicely.
Characters clearly have unique personalities as well as objectives and cleverly integrated agendas which merge smoothly with the main storyline rather than seeming to be artificially contrived in order to serve as a convenience to the main character. It's nice to see a plotline in which the characters actually have realistic faults and frailties and can make mistakes in judgment and actions that don't automatically and immediately result in a quick death, thus requiring endless save game restorations for the player.
As in most real-life situations, your characters have time to work out the problem and restore health and sense through a natural process. At times, of course, the natural process involves some level of magic but, after all, this is a fantasy game world. Furthermore, any magic invoked in the game must be learned and studied by any would-be spell caster in a sufficiently pedestrian manner to allow at least the illusion of normalcy by the player.
The game has a couple of irritating or, at the least, noticeable quirks. One of the major game play annoyances (more a design feature than a glitch) is the way nonplayer characters (NPCs) are left in situ for days on end. For example, when the main character Aren sees his girlfriend Laura to tell her he's leaving town to study and develop his newly discovered magic ability, he meets her at the town well. Likewise, he says good-bye to his father who stands outside his inn to give Aren a last minute pep talk. Oddly enough, Aren and his companion, the noble William of Escobar, can then rest overnight (or for days) at the inn, go shopping for travel necessities at the local general store or stock up on foodstuffs from the inn. But (and here's the gripe) no matter when they leave, dead of night or high noon, poor old dad and Laura are stilled nailed to the same spot we saw them earlier in game.
This NPC nonmovement is convenient for finding characters when needed but does detract from the believability factor. There is an addendum sheet (suggested reading) included in the game which updates some of the errors printed in the manual and offers a few gaming tips. Minor quibbles aside, the game's interface is easily understood and smooth to use. Keyboard hot keys may seem unusually assigned until you realize the letter stands for the action, not the title of the action (e.g., (S) is for Camping, but really means sleep; (T) is for Stick to Roads, but really means travel). Overall, solid game play, an interesting story and relatively few faults make Betrayal in Antara a winner.
Graphics: The game world is well drawn as are characters, although a static screen picture is displayed (no moving lips, gestures, etc.) during conversations.
Sound: Voice quality is superb, acting is for the most part well done. Music is atmospherically appropriate and clear.
Enjoyment: Using skills, magic, and executing combat are easily mastered by simple point-and-click routines (with keyboard shortcut options available) as is inventory management. A large and talented group of voice actors add believability to conversations with realistic voice inflections and quality (accents and delivery are especially well done). Storyline is interesting and well developed and the game's fluidity is impressive. On-screen maps of world and local levels are well done with a cartographers drawer full of defining icons available for user placement of map items and locales. Levels of difficulty affect the way your characters recover from debilitating combat and whether replay opportunities are offered, so careful selection of the desired option at game's start is recommended. Options of automatic magic and basic skill building and distribution and auto-combat are nice features as is the stick-to-road option.
Replay Value: As with so many adventure games, once played through there isn't a great deal left to encourage replay.
Betrayal in Antara uses an updated version of the game engine from Betrayal at Krondor. However, it does not continue the Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar saga, but instead starts a new tale set in a different fantasy world, known as Ramar.
The story begins with William Escobar, the son of the governor of Pianda, sailing home to meet his fiancee. The ship is attacked by pirates, and William escapes in a life boat with a mortally wounded traveler. Before he dies, the stranger gives William a medallion, warning him of a conspiracy against the Empire. William meets a young magician named Aren, who has just discovered devastating powers within himself, and the two decide to meet William's father and ask for his advice concerning the unsettling information.
The game plays very similarly to Betrayal at Krondor. The player navigates a party of three characters through the 3D world. Enemy encounter triggers a separate battle screen, on which player-controlled party and the enemies engage in turn-based combat. Cities are usually displayed as still pictures, with various locations accessible via menu-based navigation. Like in Betrayal at Krondor, there are only two character classes in the game, warrior and mage. The skill system is also nearly identical; skills are improved by repeatedly using them, and marking them in the skill menu for faster learning. Elements like a day/night cycle, weapon and armor repairing, navigation on world map, the necessity to carry rations, etc. are also brought over from the earlier Dynamix game.
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