Release date: 11/2004
Developer: Atlantis Interactive Entertainment
Publisher: Dreamcatcher Interactive Europe
Game language: German
USK: 6 years and up
A review by André 14th December 2004
(translated by slydos)
More often than not it makes fun to write reviews. So the last time with Clever & Smart. Because the game was simply great the review nearly flows automatically. Let's see, how things behave regarding the new Atlantis game. Although I enjoyed Atlantis 3 (Beyond Atlantis 2) very much and I actually looked forward to a continuation, I haven't heard much accolades of the new title in the forefront yet.
The reason for my fears is the fact that a new developer team was put on the Atlantis Evolution project who should have built in many action sequences, which are not much appreciated by adventure gamers. Thus I simply began to play to form my own opinion about it.
Ex ante some short information: Atlantis Evolution is the fourth part of the series. However for the first time a new development team named Atlantis Interactive Entertainment was responsible for the game. This part again is the first of a planned trilogy. I don't know yet, in what extent the upcoming parts will be connected. The most important elements of the game were taken over and so Atlantis is of course played in ego-perspective and again has a 360°-panorama view. But there are no more flowing transitions between single scenes. These were surely expensive portions of the production and they were responsible for a longer play time in the three predecessors.
The events are overturning in the intro: it's the year 1904. A young man named Curtis Hewitt, photographer by trade, is on board of an enormous ship in the midst of the ocean when suddenly a storm rises. It ravages more and more, so that nothing else remains to his rescue, than leaving the sinking ship immediately by yawl. Suddenly a vortex comes up.
In the next sequence the storm has calmed down and the sea has smoothed rather nonnatural. Just when Hewitt wants to scull away, a mighty two-headed bird landed on the boat. And while Hewitt is still wondering, whether perhaps hunger after the photographer's meat is the request of this strange bird, an enormous spaceship approaches and finally carries Hewitt to Atlantis. Wow!
So far the first incidents. On the basis of this description it can hardly be hidden that Atlantis Evolution is full of wacky ideas either. That's the way a sequel of the Atlantis series should be and the game continues this way.
Basically we are on the run from now on, because Atlantis doesn't welcome us at all. The Gods who control the land made the people abulic and pliable for work. And it doesn't ease the Gods at all, if we as perfect stranger from the upper world analyze the situation.
The occasional flaring up humor suited me. So for example, when our hero gets trapped in a net, is hung up head over and now must conduct some conversation. Such sequences add distinguishing traits to our protagonist and make him likable.
The graphics are yet noticeably different compared to the predecessor. I assume that with the new developer team also different people are responsible for the graphics now. If one for example compares the skies: In Atlantis 3 (akin to Salammbo) one could learn, how clouds may look, namely more impressing because extremely threatening, expressive and at the same time very detailed, while the clouds in the new game look rather wet painted as with pastel color.
I mostly had to relate my first impression, Atlantis 3 to be graphically more impressing. The graphics really succeeded and compare favourably with the predecessor or with other current adventures. The landscapes, for example a kind of rain forest, look very imaginative with their most diverse plants, oversized mushrooms and wafting sponges and the positive impression is still strengthened, when small snakes or similar creepy crawlies scurry along at the ground, a creek plashes and colourful butterflies perform their little dances. The film sequences (for example the sinking ship) are together with the awesome soundtrack wonderful bombastic and the animations of the numerous characters are smooth and vibrant. They are real highlights, almost comic-like and at the same time a little grotesque. They are very original and complete the positive graphic general impression.
There are actually almost all sorts of puzzles. In the ideal case these are time-independent inventory puzzles in which one cannot die. I partly had quite difficulties with them, since many are not necessarily logical. A welcome change are numerous mini games, like a variant of "Defender" or a highly simplified "Ballerburg". But that's it. The locations, as for example the jungle, partly represent rather extensive labyrinths. After I once unsuccessfully ran through such a labyrinth for hours without knowing at all, what I was actually searching, neither gaming fun nor my mood has really increased.
And then there are the feared action sequences. I mean numerous locations where you can die. In many places there are stealth elements or one must solve a puzzle within a scarcely limited amount of time, to escape for example from the guards. From time to time this even makes fun, but one mostly doesn't find the solution in the given time, restarts at the initial point and the whole nerving procedure starts again. I actually 'love' such things.
Actually you are on the run half of the game or threatened by death or both and often only rush through the really magnificent background graphics, without being able to enjoy them.
Sometimes one can die in a more simple way: a scorpio in a cave blocks the way, but you nevertheless run through the picture. Prick - dead, that's it. In the same line.
In the last third of the game the new developers show what they actually are good at, because fortunately the escape scenes decrease, you can puzzle your way scarelessly and behold, and immediately the game makes considerably more fun. Very original was the sequence, in which we are - as spirit of the wind - invisible for the Non Player Characters (wow, what a technical term!).
The controls havn't changed. The cursor in the shape of crosshairs not only indicates the center of the screen in the ego-adventure, but also lets us interact with characters as well as hotspots. We left-click on the appropriate hotspot and with the right mouse button the inventory appears. The game controls are optimal and handy. The menu acts cryptic as per the predecessors. Icons replace terms such as Load and Save and if you pause briefly with the mouse above an icon, you get an explanation what it means. If desired, one can switch sub-titles and even the cursor on and off.
In the quite clear menu we find a few more functions e.g. anti-aliasing and changing from 16 to 32-bit graphic mode. A very good feature is the fact that you can adjust the total volume, music, speech and sound-effects individually.
Atlantis Evolution here too adapted to its predecessor. In quiet moments e.g. ethnical drums meet dark to relaxing electronic sounds, which still strengthen the mysterious atmosphere. If suspense rises, also the music becomes more bombastic. The Techno/Electro Sound fits the hectic action sequences outstandingly and in times nothing happens, it simply is billowing along in a quiet way. The music score is really great and varied, suits the game and supports the respective situation perfectly. The same applies both to the professional dubbing and the sometimes bombastic sound effects.
From time to time the developers are overcome and think that action sequences are the big innovation in a proven adventure series, which the fans of the series almost waited for. And every time one can refer to the forum resonance of the mostly irritated players.
Me too the hectic puzzling around under time pressure and the permanent repetitions of always the same situations really didn't make fun. The many sequences were very much nerving and frustrating, and even a lot of good will didn't let me play them through, so that I very often looked into the walkthrough.
Fortunately even the most frustrating seuqences have an end. And then one can dunk into the world of Atlantis, whose flair also the new developers knew to convert well. The graphic style is definitely different to the predecessor, but I would like to call it extremely felicitous with many details and the nice cutscenes, so that it possesses a just as atmospheric density in comparison to the third Atlantis game. Also Curtis Hewitt's characteristics could please because of his rough edges. Same applies e.g. to the crotchety opponents like Enna or the extremely funny Sama as spoiled-prole God-gal (pay attention to the dialogues!), in addition to the numerous supporting characters.
It simply tells you that the new team tried very hard to create this fourth part. Thus theoretically an exciting, off the trolley and varied story is told which actually resumes the Atlantis series very well and partly really made fun (in the last third ever more).
Therefore it's too bad that the often frustrating escape and dying sequences determine really a good deal of the game and the puzzles sometimes are so difficult to comprehend, because I would have liked to rate it much higher. But like that only 69 % are possible for the time being.
Rating: 69 %
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for hardcore-adventure-freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Windows 98/2000/ME/XP Pentium III 800 MHz RAM 64 MB 24x CDROM-drive 4,0 GB free disk space DirectX8-compatible 3D graphic card with 32 MB DirectSound-compatible sound card
- WIN 98
- AMD Athlon XP 1800
- 256 MB RAM
- Graphic card Radeon 9200 Series
- 16x CDROM-drive
- Hard disk 60 GB