At first glance, Excalibur 2555 AD might seem like a solid 3D adventure using the ol' overly-proportioned-heroine-in-a-short-skirt idea that Tomb Raider made so famous. After about, say, 2 minutes of playing, one discovers that it is completely different story. Other than the impressive graphics, anyone with an attention span will soon become tired, bored and agitated due to the basic puzzles, easy levels and utterly simple combat.
One aspect that tends to separate good adventure games from bad is its story. Excalibur's story unmistakably proves that Excalibur 2555 is definitely a BAD game. In fact, here is the only hint as to what the plot of the game is (taken verbatim from the game): "The legendary sword Excalibur has been stolen by raiders from the far future. As Merlin's apprentice, Beth, you are sent forward in time, equipped only with a broadsword and limited spellcasting ability. Your mission: recover Excalibur and prevent catastrophe." That's all. Nothing more. What do the raiders (called "Devalar's men") plan to do with the mighty Excalibur? We don't know. What exactly is this catastrophe? That's unclear as well. Excalibur 2555 AD is an idea with no story. Fortunately, for the game's sake, there is one aspect saving it from being totally worthless: the graphics. PC players with 3D acceleration will enjoy marvelous eye candy though enhanced graphical technology such as detailed 16 Bit textures and colored lighting (easily the best aspect of the game). All objects throughout the game (namely the main character, "Beth", and enemies) tend to look on the blocky side, while their simple, limited animations make them look just plain foolish. For all you non-3D accelerated readers, don't worry, good graphics never makes up for the fact that a game itself just isn't fun. And that is the case here.
Excalibur might have been a good game had it incorporated at least some quality gameplay. Unfortunately for SirTech, playing Excalibur is a lot like being in my last relationship: a little enjoyably at first, but it gets old REAL quick. One of the key factors towards the overall lack of gameplay is the extremely simple combat. Adventure games are SUPPOSED to have elaborate enemies and exciting combat. In Excalibur 2555 AD, fighting basically consists of blocking the enemy, then counter-attacking. That's all the information one needs to defeat virtually every single enemy in the game. In rooms where there are multiple enemies, one would think that they would use their numbers as an advantage. Think again. All enemies not engaged in combat just sit around and wait for their turn. No "double-teaming". One last bone to pick with attacking: hitting the air in front of an enemy shouldn't count as hitting him! In other words there are some minor but noticeable flaws in the collision engine.
Puzzles play another major role in any adventure game. Excalibur is no different. Like everything else in the game, however, puzzles are not-surprisingly basic and boring. Here's a quick run-through of 99% of all puzzles throughout the game: you find a person. He tells you he needs X (an objects, potion etc.) to survive. You find X. You give it to him. He gives you Y (another object) which you in turn need to beat the level or to give to someone else, who will in turn give you a Z, etc.etc.etc. There are 12 levels of this repetitive, monotonous game play; anyone who has actually defeated all more than 5 should seriously re-evaluate their life.
Sound is yet another aspect that seems to be underdeveloped. While the music does a descent job setting up a somewhat eerie, underground feel through hokey, mystical tunes, all voices of characters sound low budget. Some words are even totally incomprehensible due to the horrible quality.
Excalibur 2555 AD just isn't fun. I admit that the 3D accelerated enhancements are nice to look at, but when actually trying to play it's a whole different story. The bottom line is that any gamer can do much, much better than this.
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