Here we go into another mystical far off land. This time, we're getting there German style!
These days, a role-playing game has to be more than a little special to stand out from the ever-growing pack Everyone knows there's nothing quite like a huge gome to get their teeth well and truly into. Amberstar is such a title.
Hailing from the company who recently reaped so much success from the A320 Airbus release comes a role-player in which it is immediately evident that an awful lot of time and effort has been spent on it.
There's been an attempt to take it out in front of the rest of the bunch, many of which are unfortunately run-of-the-mill games that ore loaded just a couple of times before being turned into disks for something else.
The full size of the whole thing is incomprehendable. A brief description of the quest will tell you that you must locate 13 pieces of the missing Amberstar that will help you ward off the evil from the land. What that description fails to tell you is that they are spread throughout a huge world that takes ages to traverse and explore. Believe me when I tell you that it will take weeks if not months to finish the game. There'll be no 10 minute solutions printed in the magazines over the next few months, I can tell you!
With the ever-increasing number of hard drives in circulation, it perhaps isn't surprising that Amberstar readily supports being transferred to this medium. There's nothing like removing those frustrating disk swops (although to be fair to the programmers these are kept to the bare minimum here) and speeding up access.
Coming on three disks, the game cannot be played from the original floppies and must be converted to three of your own disks. This may seem a little inconvenient at first but it does ensure that your originals do not come to harm if you store them safely.
There are two different views to the game, both of them already tried and tested. The first is the traditional "small character roaming around a map from an overhead perspective". The second is the familiar Dungeon Master 3D maze type thing.
On the former you can see all the surrounding area, although as the day wears on, it does get darker and your view does become more limited. The 3D view is very nicely done and comes complete with an auto mapper totally free of charge! This is invaluable if you're like me and can't find your way to the bathroom from the bedroom in brood daylight!
The view alters depending on your surroundings. For example, when you are in a city wandering around, you will be in 3D mode, but as soon as you leave the city or enter a building it will revert to overhead so you can move about the new location easily.
It is in the programming routines used in these two views that makes it obvious that Amberstar is a class product where no effort has been spared. The scrolling is second to none and everything whizzes by smoothly and quickly. Not a hint of jerkiness in sight here. Sound too is more than ably catered for with good spot effects and the occasional sexy little tune to keep you amused.
As with all good games there has to be on ample quantity of fighting, blood and guts. As with everything else, the fighting here is performed easily and efficiently. The whole combat system works a treat and you can move each member of your party around to wherever you want and make them do whatever you choose.
Magic too plays a large part. Different classes of spellcaster (both black and white magicians) can be trained up. White magic is the good kind that heals people and the black stuff is the naughty kind that allows you to fry people on the spot. Six people can be recruited into your party and so it is important to get them all to the higher levels if you want to continue deep into the game.
To sum everything up, Amberstar is without a doubt one of the easiest to get into, hassle-free games of its type. It is still extremely playable without a hard drive - something where one or two other unmentionables have fallen down recently. The quest is of such magnitude that once you're into it, there's no escape. You have been warned!
Amberstar is part one of the never completed Amber Trilogy. The magical Amberstar is a talisman, used a millennia ago to banish evil demon lord; Lord Tarbos to the third moon of Lyramion. It's an excellent RPG, where you control a party of up to six characters including animals!
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