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Game Over Online ~ Soulbringer

GameOver Game Reviews - Soulbringer (c) Interplay, Reviewed by - Wolf

Game & Publisher Soulbringer (c) Interplay
System Requirements Pentium 233, 32MB Ram, 3D Accelerator, 400MB HDD, 8x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Tuesday, June 6th, 2000 at 02:39 PM

Divider Left By: Wolf Divider Right

It's been a while since there has been a new RPG out on the store shelves. The only titles that have been released, that are worth looking at, are Fallout 2 and Baldur's Gate. See, I for one have not plummeted into the latest craze of Online Role-Playing Games. Games like Ultima Online, Asheron's Call and Everquest are the latest style of RPG's to engulf the PC's. It's a good idea too, RPG's so far dominate mainly on the PSX, but the PC can use the Internet so its advantage and add a whole new dimension to them (though how long before the consoles do this too with their Internet access). This is all fine and dandy of course for all those people who can afford the spare time required to play them, are willing to pay money every single month and who are willing to put up with lousy graphics (online multiplayer and acceptable graphics don't seem to go together it seems). For people like me, who live in Australia or outside the US, the ping times are not going to be all that much fun compared to what those in the US will get (though I hear its not too bad, its still a disadvantage). So the rest of us have to make-do with single player role-playing games. Of course, these poor sods have been completely forgotten by developers, there has been scarce few titles around and the last really good one was Fallout 2 (arguably the best RPG ever). Many people were also happy with Baldur's Gate and so was I, for the whole few days it took to complete and then never look at again. There hasn't been nearly enough good RPG's out there, but here comes Soulbringer along to save the day.

Soulbringer is, at its core, your average RPG. It leans to the side of Diablo, Darkstone and Nox, the kind of RPG that offers pure action but it's the quest based structure and the overall storyline, along some unique twists on the genre, that moves this title away from being your pure hack 'n slash game. You start out your usual wiener weakling self and you will probably find it a bit hard to start killing the first few brigands with just your useless, little knife. The first thing you'll notice is the combat system. This is a rather unique combat system and although it has some drawbacks, overall it's a very good system. When you've targeted the appropriate bad guy to kill, the little menu bar on the right allows you to select what attack to use on them. There are usually up to 5 attacks for each weapon that get unlocked depending on what combat level you are. Apparently all the moves are motion captured and it all does look quite smooth as your character performs his moves on the enemy. Dodging is an automatic thing based on your combat and speed points and, together with the smooth attacks, makes the whole fighting sequence look very attractive and ever realistic. There is also a "combo" option where you can pre-select the attacks to do and in what order, but throughout the game I have never seen the need to use this as you just lose control over the character and never achieve what you had in mind.

Also to be used in combat is magic, and here is another thing that has been made unique in Soulbringer. The five magical areas in Soulbringer are nothing special, Water / Fire / Spirit / Air / Earth are all pretty common things in RPG games. The twist here is that these 5 elements are all balanced, as can been seen in your character screen. As you use spells of one element more than others, the balance changes in favor of that element. After using fire spells for half the game, your fire balance will take up about 40% of the pie and the others will all shrink down. This means you can cast fire spells at a lower cost, which are more powerful and you gain strength when getting attacked by fire spells as well. Of course this also means you'll be weaker when using the other elements in terms of the damage you can do. Spells are acquired by finding the appropriate spell book and then the rune to open it. The "Book of Arrows" will contain appropriate missile spells for all five elements, one for each. In this way it's easy to categorize the spells, but it is sometimes annoying because if you're using only fire spells, you have to flick through the books a lot to find all the fire spells. This is a slight flaw in the spell book system, but you usually have enough time in combat to flick through them so it's not too bad. Overall, the whole magic system is another unique element in Soulbringer, setting it apart from your usual RPG. The Magic and Combat system form the basis of all the fighting that takes place in Soulbringer and since there is an awful lot of it, and its implemented so uniquely and well, this is the main plus about Soulbringer that makes it such a enjoyable game.

The one big dent in Soulbringer's armor would have to be the graphics. While not particularly bad, they aren't very good either. The textures are always a tad bland and the characters tend to usually look pretty shonky at times, especially when you view them closer up. Their limbs tend to look like they want to move in a different direction from the rest of the body. This is only usually apparent, though, in conversation when the camera moves in closer, in actual movement they are all fine. Thick dark blackness is used to shroud the horizon and this thick blackness stays up in the sky forever to, making even the desert seem dark and bleak. Perhaps some sort of sky texture would be nice to make everything look a tad more cheery. One downside with the graphics as well is that you'll really need about 128 RAM to get some good loading times. Having 64 RAM would be fine for just reloading now and again, but when exploring and trying to find something its going to get really annoying after a little while map upon map is loading. So the graphics aren't too brilliant and pull the score down just a bit, but not much, they work fine for the game and you won't pay too much attention to them after a while, it's just something that tends to put off some people when they first see it.

Soulbringer's storyline is at times pretty involving, though if you fail to follow or read some of the books of history or scrolls you find, you will pretty much be a bit confused as to what is happening. This is fine though, as long as you understand everything seems to have a greater purpose and the finely scripted storyline is following some path that would make sense had you read all those scrolls and books along the way (I can never be bothered). The Quests in Soulbringer are all done nicely as well, though most of them just seem to push you along the game. There are hardly any side-quests you can do. One thing I would have liked is that your journal present a bit more than one line of information on every quest. For example if it would jot down some additional notes if somebody just told you, say, where the city of Thalrodin is, it would be jotted down in your notes if you have to find somebody there because otherwise there is no way to check unless you go all the way back and talk to the person again.

Overall Soulbringer delivers very well on all fronts of the RPG genre. It's unique approach to combat and magic, the interesting storyline, and the usual RPG joy of gaining some newer, tougher weapon or level up, make this a very enjoyable title indeed. One that I actually went through and completed and I haven't felt the need to complete a game in many, many months. The graphics are a minor let down in this game but don't let it put you off, there are plenty of surprises in this title and the more you play, the more enjoyable it tends to get.


  • Unique combat and magic system
  • Scripted Storyline is sensible and involving at times
  • Its fun


  • Graphics could be a bit better
  • Scripted storyline means there's no room for freelancing

    [ 16/20 ] Graphics
    [ 14/15 ] Sound
    [ 28/30 ] Gameplay
    [ 18/20 ] Fun Factor
    [ 05/05 ] Storyline
    [ 09/10 ] Overall Impression


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