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 Home -> Reviews -> Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
Arcanum By John "Award" Del Percio,
September 16, 2001
Developer :Troika Games
Publisher :Sierra Studios
Release Date :Late August 2001
Demo Available : Yes - Download
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Why Bring a Lantern? I can Glow!

As you begin your journey through the land of Arcanum, you are aboard a crashed zeppelin when you are told by an old gnome about an impending evil, and that you must return a ring to its owner. Then you meet Virgil, your first party member, who informs you that you are a deity reborn (yeah, sure.) From there, you begin your treks to towns and caverns, and you begin to see how truly large the game is.

The land of Arcanum is not laid out like a bunch of individual maps. You can actually walk across the entire game, rather than use waypoints on the map screen to accelerate time. If you do this, though, be warned, it takes 48 hours just to walk across the map! Indeed, Arcanum is huge. The second town encountered, Tarant, is roughly the size of five of the largest Baldur's Gate cities (excluding Athkatla and Baldur's Gate) attached together, with at least twice the population. After visiting the various shop keepers and realizing you're flat broke, you'll likely be moving on to your quests.

Quests are kept track of in a log book, some are for evil characters, some for good, though many of them are not able to be solved in short order. To travel from town to town, there is a (rather expensive) rail system, and some boatmen who are willing to ferry you around. Besides that, you can walk from town to town in search of your quests.

In the grand tradition of Fallout, there are more character statistics than you could ever imagine. Just when you thought Fallout featured the most stats in any game, in comes Arcanum. It has more base stats that affect more things (and can be modified using your points from leveling up), it features a technology tree which requires points placed in each skill, nearly as many schools of magic as Dungeons and Dragons with five spells in each, and several sets of skills including social (gambling, persuasion), thieving skills (pick pocket, and prowl), and others. It begins to be quite clear after a short amount of time that no character could ever master every available skill tree, which is unfortunate because nearly all the available skills are quite useful, even necessary.

Also new since Fallout, while still optional in single player mode, the annoying turn-based gameplay is gone! Indeed, you can, and should, fight in real time like most other games in both single and multiplayer mode. While on the subject of multiplayer, that's the other thing that is new. Through WON, you can create (and maintain) your character in free for all, cooperative, and role-play modes online with other players. Unfortunately, I didn't get to extensively test this feature since many people are not online playing yet, likely waiting until they finish the enormous campaign. There isn't much need for that, though, other than building familiarity with the game, though, since multiplayer has its own campaign with a closer proximity of locations than the enormity of the full Arcanum campaign. Finally, the game ships with the map and script editors used by Troika, so this will likely be one of the first RPGs to have extensive community support, and new multiplayer (and single player) scenarios popping up everywhere.

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