It is rare that I rant outside of an editorial, but in this case, I feel it is warranted. I have read a few other reviews from other sites before writing mine, mainly out of curiosity, as I already knew what I was going to say. Quite a few of them complained about the game not having a story like the first ones, having an outdated interface, not having great graphics, having repetitious puzzles that were unimaginative, wasting too much screen space on inventory, and a few other complaints.
I don't really know what on earth made them say this, though I think before writing the review, they may have done well to pull out Myst and Riven again. I know for myself, I was remembering Myst as a much better game than it really was, and it confirmed my opinion of Myst III when I played it again. As far as the story, it has a great story, there isn't much more I can say about it, but it is mysterious, and interesting. It is sort of a revival of the story of Myst, but it's a new and interesting spin on it. As far as the interface goes, it's point and click, how can that get any easier, and what can you do to improve it. For the complaints about inventory and screen size, Myst doesn't really have an inventory, you just keep a few journals and pages around. That screen space is not allocated to inventory, it's blank screen space left over from the panoramic wide-screen snapshots for images. The aspect ratio needs to be kept for the "lens" that is used in the modeler (for those of you who have never had the torturous experience of trying to model things in 3D, most modelers use actual names, aspect ratios, lenses etc as real cameras for the snapshots of the scene that are taken.) As far as the graphics and puzzles, several of the puzzles build upon each other, but get tougher as they go. The are extremely imaginative, though, and the graphics are exquisite, many of which were taken directly from Cyan's own image records from Riven. So, in short, I strongly disagree with many other reviewers about Myst III.
The environments of Exile are diverse, and unprecedented in the attention to detail in the models. Particularly Edanna, the nature Age, the roots, fines, leaves and other things that are in it pain me to even begin contemplating designing. Amateria, the dynamic forces Age (better known as the roller coaster/pinball age) has incredible visuals, and some very cool puzzles all tied in together and Voltaic, the energy age gives the raw industrial feeling that it should. My biggest complaint is that I believe there are really only four ages in the game. The "fifth" age, is more or less two rooms with one puzzle (albeit a highly over-complicated puzzle that had me going insane until I realized what it was). Not that Riven's final age was much more than this, but it's still a bit of a letdown if you're not expecting it. Regardless, though, the rest of the game clearly makes up for it.
On a final note, there are some technical problems with the game at present. The one I personally found most annoying is just that the copy protection is located only on the first CD, requiring you to swap CDs every time you restart the game. It would have been easy to place it on all, and I hope they change this eventually as Interplay did with the six-CD set of Klingon Academy. Also, I had the game drop to the desktop a few times when I went into three puzzles (the three puzzles share the same code and are located on J'nanin. I unfortunately won't tell you more about the location, else it may spoil the game.) The game also crashes on the end credits sometimes, though that is not much of a problem, and does not cause you to miss a thing. Some people have had problems with their video cards not being able to run Exile in D3D mode as well. I've also noticed the game causing Windows to report "Updating Setup Files" on reboot every single time I run Exile for no apparent reason. Most of these problems do have patches in the works, though, so if it's really troublesome just wait it out a bit longer.
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