Alright, Ill admit to it… I’m a huge dork for Dungeons and Dragons. There, I said it and now I’ll do my best to not feel ashamed. All joking on the issue aside, I’ve been a fan of the table top version of the game for a good twelve years now and I have played almost all of the D&D franchise video games to be released, be it on PC, Nintendo or whatever. So, having played both the good and the bad, it comes as a serious surprise to say that Pools of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor is the single worst D&D game, nearing being the single worst video game I have ever played. Once you load up the game, you will be given the option of picking from pre-created characters or to make your own party of four adventurers. The character creation system is a point-based system that lets you allocate the points how you like rather than rolling for them. The advantage of this system is that you can give your character the stats you like, the downside is that your characters will have to suffer in several areas to have anything other than mediocre stats in what matters to his class. Other than that, the game automates all of your feats and skills, taking away much of the character creation that makes games like Neverwinter Nights so much fun. Having the most enjoyable part of D&D taken out of your hands is a pretty good sign as to what is ahead of you. From there you are taken to the city of Myth Drannor to find out what happened to the party who went there before you. As soon as you arrive you are attacked by several orcs and it is here that you will see where the crucial failings of this game come into play. The combat is atrocious, with a good ninety percent of your attacks missing their mark, no matter how skillful your character gets and when your attacks finally do hit its almost a guarantee that you will do the minimum damage. Normally, I would just chalk it up to bad luck, but the random rolls in this game are fairly consistent in hanging out near the lower end of their respective ranges. This problem doesn’t seem to bother the enemies however, with even the slowest enemies going first and hitting more often than you. This makes the game frustratingly hard to play, having your party getting smacked around by enemies that should be a breeze. The best part of the game is the storyline, which really stinks because if the story was horrendous as well it would be easy to just consider the game a total wash. But I actually found the story to be interesting enough to force me to keep trying to play the game, no matter how much it may have frustrated me. The problem with even this is that you have to actually play the game to see how the story pans out. Honestly, you would be better served looking for the book that came with the boxed set and buying that rather than this game. It goes over most of the main events of the game as well as some of the side stuff, all without actually forcing you to deal with this horrible game. I really wanted to like Ruins of Myth Drannor, especially after my father had bought it for me for a good fifty dollars, but that wasn’t to be. Playing this game is like getting repeatedly punched in the gut for trying to have fun. It goes out of its way to make sure that you never enjoy it and just when you start to make the mistake of enjoying yourself, they find a way to squelch that. If I didn’t know better, I would honestly think that they had purposefully tried to make a game that nobody who played it would enjoy. You have to give props to the developers for that at least, even if you avoid this game like a plague.
Pros: Immense and detailed maps, Interesting storyline, the music and sound effects were pretty awesome, the soundtrack and novel included with the boxed set rocked.
Cons: Characters move far too slow over the huge maps, Enemies are far stronger than your party which forces many restarts, Party members seem to miss 90% of their attacks even on weaker enemies, Must place markers on the map on your own to mark any and all places of interest so you can find them later.
Recommendation: Even for the hardcore D&D fans, avoid this game. Its one of the worst D&D franchise games to have ever been made. I highly suggest reading the book that came with the boxed set however.
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