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The Sequel that Isn't
Alundra 2 was developed by Contrail, and published and localized for North America by Activision. Unlike the name, the story has no connection to the original Alundra. In fact, there is so very little in common with the original at all, one would question the name. However recent sequels by other developers have proved it can be done.
Most people's first impressions are of the graphics. This is easily the worst part of Alundra 2. The rough edges of the polygons are only matched by the blurry textures and at times visible breaks in the characters. The unrealistic shapes of most of the main characters only add to the sight for sore eyes. Fortunately, the scenery is a far bit better made, and the NPC's don't move enough to show any flaws. Overall a lot of refining could have been done in designing the 3D environment. Since the cut scenes are polygonal, instead of fresh CG, there is no improvement.
Then there is the music. The first impression was that the music was right in the style of Alundra. Each piece fits the scene, and overall a very decent sound. The problem is that there simply were not enough different tracks. After the fourth or fifth dungeon, the music becomes at best unnoticeable; at worst annoyingly repetitive.
The battle system is like most other Adventure RPGs. As Flint explores a section of the world, enemies approach at set intervals and patterns allowing the player anticipate their attack should an rea have to be repeated. Also in tune with Adventure RPGs is no seperate screen to fight, and no menu to slow the battle down. The only aspect that sticks out is the odd delay after Flint strikes an enemy. The enemy will fall over after a hit, or the end of a combo. After the enemy stands, there is still a second or more where Flint can not strike the enemy again. Since there is no indicator of when the invulnerability ends, the enemy will get in a cheap shot if the player tries to strike again too soon.
At this point the game sounds pretty dismal, but it does have good points. Some very good points, honestly. The key point that keeps the game going is the plot. Our hero, Flint, works against a corrupt regime in order to clear the bounty on his head. Unlike the typical adventure RPGs, the plot is not spelled out at the beginning of the game. There are times where a twist in the plot will force Flint to work together with former enemies in order to reach his goals. These twists keep the game interesting.
Another key to keep the gamer interested are the small mini-games built into the game. From a simple dart game to earn those elusive magic upgrades, to fast paced escape routes fighting enemies and dodging obstacles. The escapes are usually very difficult, but the player will not be penalized too harshly for mistakes as there are a couple checkpoints on each one to fall back on after a failure, making it sometimes difficult, but not impossible.
The most memorable thing about Alundra had to be the brain-busting, reflex-testing puzzles Alundra had to solve. Flint has many of the same to solve. Overall most are not as mentally tough as the previous game, but your reflexes are still tested. As if planning and strategy were not enough to challenge the gamer, add the element of the camera angle in a three dimensional world, and relatively simple tasks can become lengthy combinations of precise timing of movements. Nostalgia of Alundra's frustration will run free as you try and try again to pass each puzzle.
Alundra 2 will bring back memories of those who have played the original, but the move from 2D to 3D, as well as many different changes loses the magical chemistry that Alundra had. While the puzzles are the same style, the mixture of the new elements creates an entirely new experience, but only an average one.
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