DreamCatcher Interactive and Daydream Software teamed up to release Traitors Gate in the spring of 2000. I didn’t play it. In fact, I don’t know anything about it. But looking it up at gamerankings.com, I see it only got an average score of 65.8%. That’s not very good, and it makes me wonder what the motivation was to create a sequel to the game, especially since a new developer, 258 Productions, was brought in to do the job.
Certainly it wasn’t because somebody thought up a great premise for the sequel. The background story for Traitors Gate 2 involves a computer virus and a stolen satellite communications device. Apparently, if the bad guys (some anonymous Middle Eastern terrorists) can combine the two, then all sorts of nasty things will happen. That means the fate of the world is up to you, playing as a secret agent named Raven.
So far, so good, I guess, but then it turns out the bad guys are hiding in a military complex that is connected to an ancient temple, and so to get to the bad guys, Double-O-Raven has to make his way through the temple. So is the temple just a little prelude, to get you warmed up for the main attraction at the military complex? Nope. The temple encompasses almost the entire game, which is just weird. Why advertise the game as Mission Impossible and then give people Raiders of the Lost Ark?
Of course, if the game was any good, the odd, misleading premise might be excusable, but Traitors Gate 2 isn’t any good. Let’s start with the interface. Traitors Gate 2 uses a 3D engine and a third-person perspective, so 258 Productions’ decision to use the arrow keys for Raven’s movement and the mouse for camera movement is fairly standard. But then for some reason they decided to use the “enter” key for actions and the “i” key for inventory -- while they didn’t use the mouse buttons for anything! Why not use the left mouse button for actions and the right mouse button for inventory, so players only have to keep their hands in two places? Oh, right, because it makes too much sense.
Even then the interface would work well enough, except the game doesn’t give you any idea what you’re looking at or where you can perform actions, and so many puzzles suddenly become “difficult” because you don’t know if you have Raven in the wrong place, or if what you’re trying to do just isn’t correct, or if what you have Raven standing in front of can’t be used at all. Actual feedback would help this problem, but, you guessed it, there isn’t any. Raven talking is a rare event, and so you have to play the game wondering things like, “Is that thing on the floor a coil of rope or a snake? Oops, it’s a snake, better load again.”
Then there are the puzzles. Since the interface only has that one action key, there aren’t a whole lot of things you can make Raven do, and so most puzzles involve pulling levers or turning knobs. That sort of thing can work -- look at how well the Myst games have sold, after all -- but 258 Productions isn’t going to be confused with Cyan Productions any time soon. For starters, the layout of the game is terrible. You pretty much move from temple room to temple room, solving the puzzle in one room so you can get a key or open a secret door leading to the next. That gets boring in a hurry since the game is just stringing you along. The format would get boring even if the puzzles were interesting, but Traitors Gate 2’s puzzles are hardly that. If the notebook you’re given at the start of the game doesn’t give you a clue, then something in the room with the puzzle is sure to contain the answer, and if that doesn’t work, then simple trial and error will probably get you through. I was pretty much bored with the game from start to finish.
And so Traitors Gate 2 combines all sorts of bad things into one adventure: a silly story that the developers don’t try to develop, generally easy puzzles that are boring to solve, a bad interface that tests your patience more than your intelligence, and so-so graphics that don’t make the game fun to look at. Traitors Gate 2 isn’t as ugly as, say, Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie trying to act like human beings in The Simple Life, but it’s pretty ugly, and I wouldn’t recommend you buy it.