Surprisingly awesome!

User Rating: 8.3 | The Bard's Tale XBOX
I actually had great hopes for this game before release, being myself a fan of the original Bard's Tale. To my great disappointment it wasn't well received by critics so it sort of went off of my radar. Eventually my friend bought himself a copy and told me it was an okay game with some funny quotes, so I asked him to lend me his copy and who would have thought? This game is great! You're the Bard, a sort of Han Solo type character who's only in it for himself. And unlike Solo, the Bard's heart is hidden very deep and only comes out in very specific occasions. Sarcasm is his game and he sure enjoys beating the living crap out of people mentally AND physically. He's surely something and you've probably never played any game with a protagonist like the Bard before. He actually stumbles on the quest by mistake, which is a nice change I guess. From what i've been reading in reviews, the biggest complaint about this game is in the gameplay department. Well excuse my ignorance but what exactly makes the gameplay of other similar Action RPG's any different from Bard's Tale? They have the same balls to the walls type of perpetual action. The only problem with that is that in 2004 gamers were already pretty tired of the formula, the game should have come out a couple years earlier for its gameplay to feel fresh. But it does the trick, especially if you haven't burned yourself out on Dark Alliance and its multiple clones. The Graphics in this game are actually pretty darn good, probably the best graphics in any Action RPG to date. The colors are lively, everything is bright, the monsters are well animated and the magical spells look great. I'm not giving it more than an 8 because even though the graphics are everything they should be, the game doesn't 'wow' you with Graphics. Sound is clearly this game's strong point. The voice acting is excellent and diverse, especially the bard voiced by Cary Elwes and the narrator voiced by Tony Jay. Truly brilliant performances across the board. The music is definitely not memorable, the only tune I remember is the title song. That is an accomplishment considering I am a game music buff. The sound effects do the trick, like the graphics, nothing bad here but nothing truly outstanding either. The 9 I gave is really only for the voice acting, fabulous stuff. Although I might be tempted to say the story is pretty good, I think its actually good because of the genius by which it is given to you and not because it is a good story. It is slightly original considering that it takes every cliche in the RPG book and twists them around. Must be seen to be believed. The game has rather low replay value. If you find all of the tokens in the game (things you collect that gives you bonuses to your stats) you can nearly max out the stats of the bard in every category! This means that the bard is, unlike in most American RPG's, a jack of all trades who can pretty much master everything. It would actually be pretty hard to finish the game by specialising in a couple of things, the game really does require to spread out your points. That results in finishing the game the first time with a bard that is a great melee fighter, a great archer, a great singer so there's nothing to aim for the second time around. I myself have a hard time seeing how I could start a new game right away, just wouldn't be much to do. But it sure is fun the first time around and the length is about 20 hours, considering how low you'll pay for the game by this point it's a pretty good buy. Overall this game was amazingly good and surpassed all of my expectations and I hope more people will actually try it and see how inventive it is. This game is especially interesting for RPG veterans since it has a LOT of rpg references. A must play.

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