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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

Mayhaps a Winner, To be Sure!

I know I've been somewhat harsh on some aspects of the game, but don't get the wrong impression. I absolutely love Arcanum. The Dungeons and Dragons games still remain as my favorite RPGs simply because I personally love the environment and story of the Forgotten Realms, but Arcanum pulls in as a close second (indeed, I do like it more than Fallout and Fallout 2.) Perhaps the biggest mistake made in the game is the title. It should have been named "Fallout 3: Arcanum. A really, really, really pre-nuclear role-playing game." Many of the good parts of Fallout are in Arcanum, while leaving behind some of the bad (though not all.) In the end, despite the dryness at times, and the so-so graphics, Arcanum is an extremly large and full game, featuring a character system where your statistics and your actions very much affect how the world and your time in it works, which, needless to say, is extremely difficult in terms of development. If you love having a profound effect on the game world, or enjoy games set in unusual time periods, Arcanum is an absolute must-have for your collection. This is what a CRPG is all about!


Personal Note

Graphics - Sound - Gameplay - Depth - Multiplayer  Reviewed by John Del Percio
88 %

Certainly, they are not the worst graphics to hit the PC. The artwork is ok, and the lighting is a nice touch since Fallout, but after being spoiled for years by the Infinity engine, I tend to expect a bit more from a 2D RPG engine these days. If you could tolerate the Fallout graphics for the great gameplay, Arcanum will look incredible, if you're not used to the Fallout graphics, be prepared for a bit of a let-down in this area, but don't let it stop you from experiencing some incredible gameplay.

94 %

The sound is fairly good, and definitely what you'd expect from a front-runner RPG. There are an unfortunately low number of voice-overs, though, similar to Fallout, where only important characters and NPCs will have a voice. The music, while probably unpopular with much of the gaming community, is certainly more than fitting. The music (which can be sampled on the official Arcanum website) is period-music performed by a string quartet. It may not be the Quake II metal, but it certainly fits the 1800's period where that was the actual music played in the streets.

99 %

A near-perfect role-playing experience, with a focus on player-critical decisions. The combat system dropped it a point here, both for the difficulty factor until you can gain some levels, the homing-monsters, and the annoyance that you can, at times, barely know that you're in combat before it starts. It should have been slowed down a bit, though that would really take forever to beat an already huge game.

94 %

It's not the most deep story in the world, unfortunately. I expected the story would pick up a bit, but it's largely predictable in terms of how it will unfold. Indeed the dry feeling of the game holds it back a bit as well, I can't place exactly what it is, but it lacks a certain character that other recent RPGs have. In terms of gameplay depth, Arcanum has one of the most complex character systems and statistics systems ever seen in an RPG to date. It WILL take several attempts to figure out how to build a decent character that won't get killed upon entering Tarant, the second town in the game.

98 %

From what I can tell from wandering around, the multiplayer support is good. You can play an attack-mode, a cooperative attack mode, or a role-play world mode. Your character can be saved and built up over time, similar to an ARPG like Diablo, though there is unfortunately, no game-save feature in multiplayer, so you start back at the beginning of your chosen campaign each time you begin. The inclusion of campaign editing tools also makes a great multiplayer addition since many third-party teams will be developing multiplayer campaigns to keep the game going indefinitely. Arcanum has, by far, the best CRPG multiplayer support around.

Unfortunately, I feel I may have left out many good points and qualities about the game on page two. I mentioned pretty much all the bad things about the game, but to mention all of the good points would have been impossible, there are simply too many. Not to mention that a full description of every great feature would have resulted in practically writing a new manual for the game, something that I certainly wouldn't want to do. If you're still not sure about the game, go download the 250mb demo and see it for yourself, in this case seeing is most definitely believing, and in one of the rare opportunities for downloading a demo for an RPG, it would be a great thing to take advantage of. In a final note, I'm happy to say that Arcanum has been nominated for the 2001 Top Pupil Awards in the categories of Best Role-Playing-Game and Game of the Year.

Troika Connection

Overall Rating


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