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Planescape: Torment

Score: 100%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Interplay
Developer: Black Isle Studios
Media: CD/4
Players: 1
Genre: RPG


Graphics & Sound:

I never thought that a game could portray the Planescape setting with any real justice in digital format. My God, was I wrong. Planescape: Torment is simply the most beautiful RPG I've ever played. Every screen is jam-packed with amazing prerendered backgrounds and foregrounds that you just stare and stare and stare at. The full motion videos are top notch. The character models are exquisite. PS:T captures the decrepit feeling of Sigil amazingly well, and it looks just like it did in my mind's eye. No other licensed RPG has done that before, and I commend BIS heartily for this. The sound is great as well, with a wonderful soundtrack, superb voice acting (I love Morte! He's such a twit!), and great clinks and clangs. The spell effects are nothing short of amazing, and only get better as your levels go up. So what if PS:T isn't real time 3D? This game simply blows the socks off of any RPG I've ever played in terms of presentation.

Gameplay:

Funnily enough, it does the same in gameplay. In Torment, you take the place of the Nameless One, who wakes up on a table in the Dustman's Mortuary with no memories. As Chris Avellone said in our interview with him, it's very Zelazny (if you don't know who Zelazny is, read the Amber Chronicles for amnesiac fiction at its best), and it fits the game perfectly. A consequence of being immortal is that when you die, you simply wake back up in the Mortuary, and you soon learn how to resurrect your teammates as well. This gives Torment a whole lot less of the creep-and-save syndrome that so many computer RPGs have.

Torment uses the Baldur's Gate engine, with improvements that make real-time RPGing more fun than ever before. Movement, combat, and talking are all one or two mouse clicks away, and soon the interface becomes intuitive. In addition, the hotkeys are completely configurable, allowing you to make any key on the keyboard be any function you like. Very, very handy.

My favorite part of Torment, however, is the sheer amount of text in the game. Everyone has something interesting to say, and you'll find yourself looking for NPCs just to chatter endlessly with them. Torment is much less combat heavy than most RPGs, and you'll find that you can talk your way out of a fight many, many times, and often get a lot more experience while you're at it. This is a really novel approach to role playing, rewarding the good thinkers more than any other game before it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Another awesome feature of Torment is complete customization of the Nameless One. He starts off as a low level fighter, but as the game progresses, you can have him 'remember' different classes, and play the game as a thief or a mage, or whatever else you like. In addition, your alignment starts out as True Neutral, and changes by your gameplay actions. You can be an evil bastard, or a champion of law and good. You decide. The game plays completely different either way, although there are the same plot chokepoints no matter how you do it. BIS put a lot of time into making Torment as open-ended as possible, and it shows.

Oh, and the characters that join your party are great. From Morte the floating skull, to the puritan succubi, to more that I won't name for fear of ruining the plot, Torment's characters are some of the most memorable in any computer RPG.


Difficulty:

Torment isn't as hard as many CRPGs, and in my opinion, that's a good thing. It's not a push over, but the fact that you know you'll be coming back to life really takes the pressure down a few notches. You have more time to enjoy the setting and the character.

Game Mechanics:

The interface is wonderful. The only problem I experienced with Torment was the occasional slow-down, easily fixed by exiting the game and reloading it. Other than that minor problem, one I'm sure will be fixed in a future patch, Torment is the pinnacle of role-playing experience. It has an amazing plot, great gameplay, breathtaking visuals, and awesome aurals. You Must Buy This Game. Now. I don't care if you don't like AD&D, which it's based on, or didn't like Baldur's Gate. Torment is THE RPG of 1999, and will probably reign for a good bit of 2000.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 95/98 w/ DirectX 6.0, Pentium 166MHz, 32MB RAM, 300MB hard disk space, 4X CD ROM, 2MB SVGA video card
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256MB RAM, Creative Sound Blaster Live! Sound Card, Creative TNT2 Ultra w/ 32MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM

Windows Messiah Sega Dreamcast Gundam Side Story 0079

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated