Albion
Review by Alfred Giovetti, 10/27/96
Price:
Release: September 1996
Genre: roleplaying adventure game
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Publisher: Blue Byte Software
Phone: 847-534-7950
Website: http://www.bluebyte.com/us/main.htm
Requirements: 486 DX, 66 MHz, 8 MB RAM, DOS 5.0, Windows 95, 2X CD ROM drive, sound card, mouse, 256-color VGA.

History: The history of the role playing game on the computer is a long and rich one. Some of the milestones, peaks and valleys, include Wizardry, Ultima, Heroís Quest, Dungeon Master, Darklands, Magic Candle, Arena, Shadows over Riva, Wastelands, and many others. While many have strayed from the proven formula, of late those companies are returning to their origins and are producing games like the ones that originated the genre back in the early 1980s.

Plot: In 2227, A mining expedition to a supposedly uninhabited planet is diverted into the mysterious intrigue of the planet Albion. The game is a morality play with places to explore, new and exciting races to communicate with, and many hack and slash battles to be fought. The story contains 150,000 words of text, with the twists and turns that make a good plot.

It is Tom Driscoll, the pilot of the interstellar factory ship Toronto, who must save the planet Albion from the enormous DDT company, solve the mysteries of Albion and survive. Some of the mysteries include what is the magic that surrounds and controls Albion, how did Celts from 400 AD Earth find their way to this 23rd century planet, and who were the ancient and wise inhabitants of Albion who appear to now be extinct.

Game play: A top down perspective for some of the sequences and a first person point for the exploration, battle or dungeon areas. For those of you that get lonely traveling through the dungeons and worlds alone, you can now travel again with a group of characters whose collective talents will be needed to solve the mysteries of Albion and win the game.

Character interaction: The designers expect to have over 150,000 words of text. The party can consist of up to six characters that can be dismissed and recruited. The dialogue system uses key words and multiple choices for responses.

Character creation: The characters are divided into four races: Celts, Iskai, Kamulos, and Mahinos. Characters are not created in the traditional role playing adventure game (RPG) fashion, but are discovered and added to the party. The story starts out with a single character, Tom Driscol, who is a pilot with the ability to recruit humanoid creatures to his cause.

Character development and attributes: Characters increase in strength, dexterity and intelligence based upon gaining experience. Skills are experience based and include mostly combat skills.

Magic System: There are 52 magic spells that heal, damage enemies, and provide useful functions. Each race has a special type of rece-specific spell system

Weapons: Artifacts both cursed and magical are used as weapons and defensive items for the characters who equip them.

Combat: First person perspective combat from a similar interface to the exploration interface. The combat is carried out on a 5 x 6 square tactical grid. Once the actions are mapped out, you observe them in three dimensional first person perspective. Once the commands are entered they can be saved and reused in the next combat. Some tactical maneuvers are denied in the small 5 x 6 grid eliminating some of the tactics of isolating and eliminating enemies one at a time.

Graphics: There are dozens of graphic backgrounds for the two dimensional and three dimensional scenarios which combine and intertwine seamlessly. When exploring the large areas the 2D third person perspective is used and when the action gets exciting things switch to 3D first person perspective.

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Voice actors: Most of the dialogue is text based with very little digitized human speech.

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Utilities: Automapping makes moving within the environment more manageable all the 3D environments are made readily accessable. The manual is a paper-based manual with extensive explanations and background, and has an online help system to suppliment the manual. Save up to 100 current games.

Multi-player: Single player games with multiple party members.

Future plans: Blue Byte intends to make their mark in the US Market.

Hints: Use Fungification and Goddess Wrath to destroy all your opponents in battle.

References:
PC Gamer, volume 3, number 7, July, 1996, pg. 38.
Chuck Klimushyn, http://www.cdmag.com/adventure_vault/albion_review/page4.html, 4/5 (80%).