|Full Product Review|
published by Ubi Soft
You do have to level up quite a bit before your character will be of much
use in combat with other players or sieges. To that end, you go around in
groups killing mobs of monsters to gain experience, riding the familiar level
treadmill for a while. Once you reach the middle levels of the game, you
join or form a guild, help build a city, and commence sieging other guild's
cities. How can you go wrong with a concept like that?
Unlike most games of this kind, Shadowbane is designed for play from a third-person perspective. Although not particularly intuitive, the interface is nicely customizable if you spend enough time reading the manual to figure out how things are adjusted. While you can zoom in to a first-person perspective, playing this way is cumbersome to say the least.
Movement is accomplished with right mouse button clicks, and incredibly,
keyboard movement controls are not even optional. Another shocking oversight
is that there is no way to make your character run with a toggle; to travel
a large distance you must click, and click, and click, ad nauseam. About
the only practical way to get from one island to another is to bribe a healer
into summoning you, making Summon the most useful spell in the game. To make
matters worse, pathing is so shoddy that you have to wonder if it even exists,
meaning that your character will stop at every tree or other impassable object
between where they were and where you clicked, ultimately forcing you to
navigate around each one with still more clicks.
Expect to spend considerable time getting used to all this, even if you're
a hardened gamer who moves with WASD controls in real life.
Graphics and Sound
I rarely mention sound in games anyone because it has gotten so good in
the last few years people have started to take it for granted. By comparison,
the world of Shadowbane seems rather sparse on sound. The forests are eerily
quiet and you won't hear any crickets cricketing, birds chirping, or footsteps
crunching. The few sounds that are there get repetitive quickly and could
use more variety.
Unfortunately, character creation is both a mystery and a gamble unless
you spend a lot of time researching it before you start. You are given points
which can be distributed over your character's statistics or spent on skill
runes. Nothing wrong with some flexibility, but in Shadowbane it's way too
easy to make bad choices early on that will make your character pretty much
useless in the end game. Users frequently share stories about how badly they
"gimped" their first character.
Although I can appreciate that the standard medieval fantasy races such
as elves and dwarves are getting a bit tiresome, the races and classes in
Shadowbane range from the mundane to the borderline absurd. During character
creation you're told that humans are the most populous race in the land,
but when you get in there you discover that, aside from a handful of NPCs,
hardly anyone chooses to play a human, while there are Minotaurs, Centaurs,
and goofy-looking winged "Aracoix" all over the place.
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