PC games: Arx Fatalis

Over the years many developers have tried and failed to merge the genre juggernauts of RPG and FPS. Up to the plate boldly steps Arx Fatalis and rookie developers Arkane Studios. The result is a title rich in ideas and interesting genre interpretation, but implemented with all the finesse of two possums having a shag. The graphics, plot development, combat and vocal accompaniment are cheesier than a Dolph Lundgren special, but the deep setting, intriguing story and atmospheric, earthy gameplay remain addictive.

The story begins when the sun disappears in the world of Arx. The humans form a fragile alliance with the other races (dwarves, goblins, ratmen) and move into a subterranean city, however, an evil presence is destroying this alliance and you’re right in its way. It’s a solid foundation and AF is chock-full of very cool moments that will have long-term RPG fans salivating with glee. For example, you can collect uncooked ribs from a felled rat, light a fireplace with your ignition spell and cook the ribs for dinner. This level of depth really immerses you in the D&D mentality and, with plenty of item collecting and intuitive spell casting going down, it caters nicely to the RPG fanatic.

Unfortunately, in its exuberant hacking-and-slashing, AF manages to lop off its own foot. The character controls are less than desirable and the graphics are far too dated, plus the story chugs along without logic and has holes big enough to swallow the Titanic. It all stinks a little like lazy development, but if you can battle through these flaws you’ll find an engaging yarn with appealing ideas. A promising premise is let down by dated looks and controls, but RPG fans would do well to give this a look.

Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: DreamCatcher
URL: www.arx-fatalis.com

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