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The interface is only vaguely similar to Interplay's and as such, is a little confusing to get used to at first. However, if you're not used to this sort of game you'll soon get the hang of it and if you are, a little perseverance is well worth the effort!
You start the game by selecting up to four of your six adventurers and you'll have the chance to meet more on your travels. It's probably best that you go for all four as the game doesn't hold back with you getting into fights from the very first scene. Oh, and play the training mission too, it'll make the main game a lot easier to get into.
The environment backdrops are stunning and huge. The character's animation is flawless and very convincing. The special effects for spells look like they've come straight from a blockbuster movie. So all in all, it's great. --Andy Flower
Pool of Radiance 2 is the first game to use D&D's 3rd Edition rules. Playable character classes include Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, Cleric, Sorcerer, Monk and Rogue, while the races are Half-Orc, Human, Halfling, Dwarf, Elf and Half-Elf. Characters advance from 1st to 16th levels, allowing spellcasters access to 8th-level spells.
As you explore the ancient and dangerous ruins of Myth Drannor, the Dungeon Master communicates all important events and findings. Just as in the tabletop game, combat is based on turns. With its intense single player campaign and multiplayer support, Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor should carry on the legacy of the famous Gold Box games and lead D&D role-playing games into the era of 3rd Edition rules.
The interface is generally adequate, but falls flat in the turn-based combat when casting a simple spell involves right-clicking in the right place, sliding off a menu option, finding a spell level and again sliding off and clicking the spell you want. That's not to mention targeting. What's more, if you make a mistake (like sending your sorcerer to the front lines), there's no way to undo it.
It's not all negative. The graphics, while not exceptional, are good, especially spell effects, which all seem to be unique. Sound is okay, in the sense that there are clinks of armour as you run and grunts when you hit creatures, but the background music is dreary and repetitive. There's also little voice-acting, and no interaction between party members.
Nevertheless, this game with its turn-based combat plays very much like the pen and paper version of Dungeons and Dragons. This differs from Baldur's Gate 2, which plays more like a computer game - but the fact is, the latter is slicker and faster, and generally works much better as it doesn't require such micromanagement. There are no PC scripts in PoR.
The game generally consists of dungeon-crawling. Certainly, the levels are huge, and there are lots of them, strewn with more magical treasures than you know what to do with. It doesn't have much of a sense of a story unfolding, though - you get a certain objective, spend hours and hours persuing it, and then get sent off on another similar mission. Being set in the long-dead Myth Drannor, most of the enemies are undead, and although half of them are skeletons or zombies, at least there's a bit of variety in the different levels of experience these creatures have achieved, making a Skeleton Lord a challenge when you first meet one, but Skeletons pushovers from a short way through the game.
So, should you buy it? If you're willing to work through its faults of repetitive and slow gameplay, reduced implementation of D&D rules and frustrating interface, there's a vast game to play there - 100 hours of gameplay is claimed. But don't buy it expecting it to be Baldur's Gate - there's almost zero story and a totally different play style in Pool of Radiance.
Pool of Radiance is a mediocre RPG, especially when compared to the Baldur's Gate series. It's not excellent, it's not unplayable, but make sure there's not another RPG you might prefer if you're considering Pool of Radiance.
The plot is weak and extremely linear. Read more
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