QUEST FOR GLORY 2 / Sierra On-Line / PC
Though I thought it was the best fan remake ever, when I reviewed QFG2 VGA a few years ago I wondered aloud why AGD Interactive had chosen that particular game to dump the better part of a decade into remaking. While the original used Sierra's relatively more primitive SCI0 engine and featured only 16-color graphical capability, it used the final iteration of that engine that was more advanced than most of their games from that time, and on the whole the game seemed to stand up to the test of time pretty well.

Well ... admittedly, coming back to it after all this time, those old parser-based engines do make the whole thing a little more slow, sloggy and confusing. When they have a massive enough list of words and phrases they recognize, a good parser can actually be more interesting and flexible and allow for much better puzzles than an icon system, and QFG2 has one of the better parser systems out there. But you still wrestle with the system not understanding common or expected words and phrases here and there. I'd imagine kids raised in the 128-bit era, maybe even 64-bit, couldn't be stuffed to learn the conventions of such an engine if they came back to it. And while the graphics look about as good as a 16-color game possibly can (this might actually be the best-looking EGA game ever made), Dat Dithering really hasn't aged well either. So good work for your foresight and wisdom on that one, AGD Interactive.

I still think the original game, unvarnished and unrestored, deserves a 5/5 however. It has its little clumsy design moments, and annoyances of a bygone age, sure. But I think it's also one of the best-written of the old-school adventure games and gives you one of the most interesting worlds to play around in. And aside from the little annoyances, the engine is rock-solid, from adventure to conversation to combat. It's a huge step forward from QFG1 (which wasn't all that bad itself to begin with), and the combat engine never really got better than this either.

With adventures in Speilburg satisfactorily concluded, the Hero rides off to the desert land Shapeir (via magic carpet) with merchant Abdulla Doo and Katta innkeeps Shameen and Shema. Initially this is just to bask in some R&R, but troubles in sister city Raseir eventually brew into attacks from magical elementals that threaten Shapeir itself. QFG has always been sort of a "storybook world" game, but more than that it seems heavily inspired by the Hollywood "epic" movies of the late 60s and early 70s, in this case things like Lawrence of Arabia and Sinbad the Sailor. You can nitpick that its a sanitized, religion-free Arabian setting ... but since the game takes place in an alternate Earth that had to deal with an explosion of magic early in human history, I don't know why anyone would expect religion or society to develop in the same way, or expect the setting to be "authentic." Some people grouse about that, so there you go. P.C. Brigade always gotta impose their preferences on everyone else's work apparently.

Anyway, other nitpicks do manifest early. The game gets off to about the roughest of starts with an ill-advised copy protection scheme; aside from being a poor one for its own purpose, its also not obvious that it is a copy protection scheme. Shapeir is made up of lots of winding mazelike streets; the "copy protection" is trying to find your way to the local moneychanger through them, without whom you can't get very far. The game came with a map and directions, of course easily copied, but its frustrating if you don't have those at hand. Once you make it to the moneychanger and back to the starting plaza, however, the "winding streets" are never really a problem again, as you purchase a magic map that teleports you all over the city.

It's also initially not clear what the point of the game even is. For the first few game days, you just hear vague rumblings about Dark Premonitions and whatnot, but nothing specific. There's talk of trouble in Raseir, but nothing pressing, and the next caravan going there isn't for 17 days anyway (in a brilliant stroke of the sort you don't see in games anymore, they make it possible to actually walk across the desert to Raseir with enough water on hand ... but when you get there you just get rudely turned out by the guards and have to go home!). Really, the first 3 days are a really generous grace period to get acclimated to the game and explore your surroundings, before the first real danger makes itself apparent when the Fire Elemental burns down Alichica's stand on Day 4. After that there's enough of a chain of events and clues to understand how the rest of the game is supposed to play out ... the other elementals will gradually attack Shapeir, and you have to be ready for them. On Day 17, you go to Raseir to investigate the source of the troubles and, as it turns out, play out the endgame. Certain things could be clearer, but I appreciate that QFG2 doesn't feel the need to rub your nose in every plot point with a non-interactive cutscene just to make sure even the laziest gamer is clear on what's going on; all the information about what is happening and what is going to happen is in the game world, but you have to ask questions, do footwork and peice it all together for yourself.

You can get bogged down in nitpicks with the game, but that's missing the forest for the trees. And in the end that's all it is; nitpicks in an amazing world with a fairly simple but well-told story and plenty of surprises and replayability. I wish there had been more hybrid adventure-RPGs on par with this game. I think it's the best of the QFG series, and Corey Cole apparently agrees. So there ya go.
Links :
* Character export/import FAQ - particularly helpful if you're playing the bundle
Videos :