Atlantis II (Beyond Atlantis) Review
Note: This review is based upon Atlantis II, the European version of this game. Dreamcatcher will publish an identical version in the United States, named Beyond Atlantis.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first game in this series, Atlantis: The Lost Tales (Cryo 1997), and have been anxiously waiting for the release of this sequel, Atlantis II. I was skeptical that this sequel could not "measure up" to my standards of what an adventure game should be. My standards are not unattainable, but many game-makers lately have had trouble meeting them. When I spend my hard-earned dollars on a game, I want a good story, interesting characters, innovative puzzles, beautiful scenery, entertaining music and, most of all, a game that runs smoothly on my system. If I can get all of that plus several weeks of gameplay, I am thrilled. Congratulations, Cryo Interactive! You have outdone yourselves with Atlantis II.
You play Ten, the Bearer of Light, who must journey to Shambhala to face the Bearer of Dark and ultimately return balance to the universe. Gathering the pieces of the "road to Shambhala," Ten becomes someone else in a different time and place. Because you play 4 separate characters, the game holds your interest, especially since you are an active participant in each world. The game is divided into locations, each distinctly different with its own storyline, cast of characters and mysteries. Each chapter is self-contained so that people, places and things remain in that world and do not transfer between them.
The simple "point and click" interface is flawless throughout. The cursor is easy-to-see, and the inventory is limitless. However, movement in the 3D environment is a little too easy. A small jerk of your mouse can cause you to swing unexpectedly toward the sky or the ground. This made me dizzy at first until I learned how to control it. (Keeping your mouse still when you click is the key.)
Atlantis II is somewhat linear. If you have forgotten to pick up an essential item, some backtracking might be necessary. This sometimes requires reworking puzzles you have already completed. If you have kept good notes, this should not be a problem.
The sound and graphics in Atlantis II are excellent in every location. The music blends well with your surroundings and adds just the right atmosphere to that "world." The volume level can be changed for music and voices, but I never found it necessary to change the default settings. The scenery is rich, sometimes even breathtaking. Wait until you see the "white horse" cut-scene -- it gave me chills!
The modelled characters are believable with realistic movements. When they talk, the voices are well-matched with their appearance and their lips move fairly well in-sync with their speech (but some are better than others). It is a plus that you are able to read the text on-screen, since dialogue is crucial to solving the puzzles.
The creators really used their imaginations in designing the many puzzles for Atlantis II. You won't find the "run of the mill" here. Everything feels new and different, even if the puzzle is similar to one you have seen or heard before. The difficulty of the puzzles ranges from simple to above-average, which will keep even the experienced adventure gamer challenged. "Pixel-hunting" is not required in Atlantis II, unlike in some other recent games. Objects don't jump out at you and may require a little searching to find, but that's all part of adventuring.
The game encompasses four CD-ROM disks, packaged in paper sleeves (not the best protection, but certainly economical). Depending upon how you play, there is a good amount of disk swapping, so you may as well keep all of the CDs unpacked and ready for insertion when prompted.
You must insert CD #1 when loading the game. On my machine, the Install Setup routine ran each time I inserted CD #1. This was easily fixed when I disabled AutoRun. I experienced no crashes or other bugs while playing.
The number of game save files is only limited by your hard disk space. The only thing I would have changed about the game was the manner in which games are saved. When you elect to save a game, you can say yes or no only (with a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down"). It is only when you are loading a saved game that you see what you saved. And then it is only a picture of the location, a date and time.
A miniature version of the game's manual is included in HTML format on CD#1 in both French and English, a nice touch which I found by accident.
While playing Atlantis II, my opinion of the game changed from beginning to end. Not from good to bad, mind you, but from good to great. I absolutely loved this game! Atlantis II is highly recommended for beginning and experienced gamers alike. The storyline is captivating; puzzles are challenging and varied; music and graphics are very good throughout. There are also few technical issues, making this a truly enjoyable experience.
-- Jeanne Muse