I have been reading alot of good things about this game, people saying its a big sleeper hit and RPG of the year material. Unfortunately it appears as if it's going to get totally lost and fogotten about among store shelves.
If you love Ultima Underworld check out the Official site and forums for the game, its basically an excellent tribute to that game.
I got it a couple days ago and played all day yesterday. Here is my opinion so far:
It is an excellent game.
It is different than any RPG created in a long long time. This is both good and bad. They don't guide you along the story line at all. A lot of the time you'll be sitting there wondering what you should be doing next. People that have just started RPG's in the last few years will hate this. This is a hard-core old school RPG experience.
The gameplay is slow but interesting. Its not boring-slow like Morrowind, but don't expect any epic battles or "Godly Plate of the Whale" in the first sitting. The puzzles, quests, and exploring are much more challenging than any fighting so far.
The graphics are mediocre by todays standards. They aren't bad and are about as good as Morrowind(give or take a bit in different areas). This puts the graphics far above any games made prior to 2002, but its no Doom III or Lithtech 2 engine.
The sound is incredible. The ambient sounds in this game are the best I have seen anywhere. On the other hand, the voice acting is some of the worst I have ever seen. The good thing is that all NPC's have full speech.
You have incredible amounts of freedom in the environment. You can do all the nifty things like bake bread and repair your own armor at a forge. NPC's have schedules and perform a variety of tasks. On the other hand, you don't have any choices when talking to NPC's, so you are kind of forced into a role.
For some reason this game reminds me a lot of Deus Ex. It is a unique gaming experience and some people probably just won't "get it".
thanks guys, appreciate the comments it sounds cool. Hows the stealth in the game compared to say, Thief? And would you reccomend the game over Wizardy 8? I havent got that game either and am figuring out which to get.
Well my first sitting was very linear, confusing, with a lot of NPC interaction with bad voice acting. My second sitting was much more fun. It was full of great dungeon tromping with fun puzzles and lots of scary parts. The immersion was the best I have ever seen.
I am big into stealth. Every game I play I am a dagger weilding sneak. So far I am a little dissapointed with stealth although it may just be because my character is still weak. I have yet to actually sneak up on anything other than a rat. I did manage to silently track a group of evil preists to their sacarificial chamber before attacking them. You also get invisibility potions and spells. Although I have not seen it myself, I hear that the bow interface is similar to Theif. If I didn't know better, I would swear this was a Looking Glass game.
If sneaking down a dark corridor from shadow to shadow hoping that you aren't noticed by the critters in that area sounds like fun then that is what Arx does right.
Damn these chores I have to do before I start gaming today!
As a follow up on stealth. So far it seems totally useless. Hiding in dark places works great, but the stealth skill is useless. I think you would be better off putting the points into Object Knowledge or the lockpicking(forget what its called) skill.
The greatest stealth challenge so far is robbing Krahoth from the Rebels. There are patrolling guards, guard activated alarms, pressure plate activated alarms, etc. I found this easiest without using sneak at all. A combination of invisibility, levitation, and good old fashion peeking around corners made it simple. This theft is not required, but the challenge of it was irresistable. Despite the uselessness of sneaking, this was still a very fun heist.
Some of the scripted encounters in this game are just awesome. Twice now I have been taken by surprise by a Lich and then wooped to within a couple HP of dying. It scared the crap outa me. A certain goblin ambush was very fun as well.