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|Death and Binky|
The reason why Death is no longer doing his work is that, one unfortunate day, he accidentally lost his memory. Night had fallen on the metropolis of Ankh-Morpork. While Rincewind and an orang-utan known as the librarian, were strolling in the narrow streets after a good night on the town, a sinister shape was busy placing a bomb in the Fouls Guild. It is when the man quickly sneaked away that Rincewind noticed something in the dark, and finally discovered the bomb with a ticking clock. Of course, although Rincewind tried to defuse the deadly device, he was unsuccessful, and they only owed their survival to a quick run under a donkey cart. Death was not as lucky as them, as he was just passing over the Fouls Guild when the explosion occurred. The strong blast sent him and his horse Binky to the four winds. When Rincewind and the librarian emerged from under the cart, they gazed at the remains of the Fouls Guild thinking that no one had been hurt by the bombing. This is however what they innocently thought for a while.
When Windle Poons, the oldest wizard of the Unseen University passed away, something unusual happened during the funeral ceremony. Although Windle was dead, his soul hadn't left his body, and like many other people in town, he was now a zombie. Obviously, Death was not doing his job appropriately. The wise Archchancellor then decided to summon the Death to see what was wrong with him. However, a few elements were required before executing the rite of AshkEnte, and once more, Rincewind was chosen to collect the components.
If you compare Discworld 2 to its predecessor, you will notice numerous changes notably in the graphic and sound departments. Discworld 2 now features SVGA graphics which everyone knows is much better than the low resolution we were accustomed to for so many years. Still, you can find games with SVGA graphics that look ugly, which is fortunately not the case for this game. Hand-drawn sketches were scanned, then painted on Silicon Graphics to obtain very nice backgrounds. Similar to Discworld, most locations don't consist of only one screen but can scroll horizontally and sometimes vertically. I have been stuck several times in the game simply because I hadn't fully explored the whole screen and missed a part of the room where the item I was looking for was. The graphics style used for backgrounds hasn't change much from Discworld, as they are supposed to reproduce the world of the Discworld as imagined by British author, Terry Pratchett. However, the characters' look has been completely redesigned, so that the game resembles more like a cartoon. To accomplish this, a character designer who previously worked for Disney and Amblin Animation was hired in the development team, and fifty animators produced the over 30,000 frames of animation contained in the game. When you play with Discworld 2 and watch the full screen animations, it is just like being in the cartoon with Rincewind, and the sounds and voices are not to lead you believe the contrary.
The dozens of characters you meet in the game have all their own voices, with voice-overs by Eric Idle for Rincewind, and Nigel Planer, Kate Robins and Rob Brydon for the others. Other localized versions will benefit of the same attention for voices, with Roger Carel interpreting Rincewind in the French version for example. The numerous sounds in the game add a tremendous effect as they sound exactly the same as cartoons, maybe even better with the use of Q-Sound technology that renders the 3D impression. The music was also improved and is now completely digital. Furthermore, each location has its specific musical score, which is a premiere, and is sure to entertain the player from beginning to end. In the eventuality that you don't like them, you will be able to set voice, sound effects and music levels independently. Sub-titles can also be displayed on the screen, as well as the speed at which they appear.
Regarding the game play, Discworld 2's interface remained almost unchanged. The luggage, literally a walking suitcase, will follow you everywhere (except for two occasions) and is not limited by a number of items, contrary to Rincewind who can only hold two objects. When you click on the luggage, a window will appear on the screen displaying its content. You can change its size like you do with Microsoft's Windows, and there is even a slider on the side that lets you scroll down. Unlike other adventure games, there are no icons to choose in Discworld 2 except during dialogues. If you want to talk to somebody, just double-click the character to start the dialogue. When you want to examine an object or a person, move the cursor over it and right-click the mouse. The last possibility is to take an object, which is done by double-clicking on it. When there is something to give, take it from the luggage and double-click on the character that you think might accept the object. Quite the easiest interface ever designed!
Dialogues are handled in the same way as in the first game with icons representing which mood you will talk with. When there are specific topics of conversation (an object, person or animal), a corresponding icon will appear in the dialogue box for you to choose. The only thing that can become tiresome at the end is the length of the dialogues, and sometimes you will wish they come to the point sooner. Otherwise, the unique humor of the game is by itself one reason why you should buy the game if you enjoy comedy with twisted story lines.
In terms of difficulty, Discworld 2 offers a similar challenge to Discworld, but provides the player this time with much more help. In Discworld, if you would try something that doesn't work out, you would hear "That doesn't work", and quite frankly, it is not going to help you further in the game unless you try all the possible interactions between items and characters. With Discworld 2, you will get specific replies for nearly any action you do, and if you are close to come up with a solution, the game will tell you so. Most of the time, answers will subtly guide the players towards the right solution. However, it is only "subtly". Don't expect to have an online help that you can question again and again!
Written by Frederick Claude
Click here for screen shots.
Click here for the cut-down story.
Most popular sound cards supported.
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