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Paradise
(hx) 08:41 AM EDT - Jun,25 2006

Paradise is a point-and-click adventure developed by Belgian artist and game designer Benoît Sokal - best known for the award-winning Syberia series and Amerzone. The game takes place in the fictional African nation of Maurania, where rebels are taking up arms against the ruthless King Rodon. You play as the estranged daughter of King Rodon, who hasn't seen her father in years but decides to visit him because he's supposedly quite ill. On her way to the country, her plane is shot down, and she wakes up in a palace. Of course, she can't remember her name or anything about who she is....However, she soon learns that Maurania is not the safest place to be right now and she decides that she wants to leave. This of course is easier said than done and here is where your role comes in...

Paradise plays like just about every other point-and-click adventure game on the market. Sweep your cursor around each scene, waiting for it to indicate that you've found a 'hot spot;' a place you can affect or interact with your environment, either directly or by using something found in your inventory. The problem is that these interactive areas are often difficult to spot due to odd camera angles and a cursor that doesn't always respond. For one, the cursor is slow to change shape when you do find the right spot, and for another, it sometimes takes several clicks for Anne to respond. All of these cursor related bugs certainly interfere with gameplay, are frustrating and detract from a good chunk of a possible overall enjoyment Besides, there's a whole lot of guesswork involved here, not only because most of the animated cursor lags a bit, but because most the time you'll never really know what exactly you're supposed to do next. It starts with a few awful puzzles that only start making sense after they have been solved, with unfair game mechanics such as items magically appearing out of nowhere when the game decides that you are allowed to find them, and with events happening for no good reason when you visit some completely unrelated location.

At a few moments in the game, you take on the role of the leopard, which seems to be connected to Ann somehow. The graphics then switch to real-time 3D, and the interface to a sort of mouse-driven direct control, where you hold down the left button and point in the direction where you want to go. However, all there is to do is walk around for a while, jump, and interact with a couple of objects. These sequences are very short, and provide some change of style, but they do not feel like an essential addition to the game. Besides, if you really don't like to play as the leopard, you can skip those parts. You won't miss that much of the game/storyline.

There's no doubt Paradise is truly a disappointment and not what I have come to expect from Benoit Sokal's work. It definitely looks like this game was rushed out like there weren't any beta testers available.

So, overall, if you love point-and-click adventures, this game is a definitely playable, but don't expect it to be without frustration. You may find yourself needing a walkthrough, but not because the puzzles are too hard, but simply because you need that quick hint to let you know where that crucial area or hotspot is that you can't find because of the cursor. It's more like Purgatory rather than a 'Paradise' ;) Sokal definitely needs to work on gameplay for his next game...

related links: homepage, walktrough #1, walktrough #2, patch v1.1, support forum, Paradise CDROM

System requirements: Pentium IV or AMD Athlon 1.5 GHz equivalent or higher, 512MB RAM, 64 MB DirectX 9.0c-compliant video card supporting 32-bit color, 64 MB DirectX 9.0c-compliant video card supporting 32-bit color, 4x or faster CD- or DVD-ROM drive, 2.5GB free HDD space, keyboard, mouse. OS: Windows 2000/XP (only)


snd: 3/5 - mixed bag, solid voice acting, mediocre sound effects
gfx: 4/5 - detailed artwork, amazing cut scenes, fixed 800x600 resolution, sloppy job in the 3D department, some scenes are very dark, clipping errors
playability: 3/5 - pretty mediocre, good (not great) story, unresponsive controls, general lack of interactivity, poor puzzle implementation, tons of pixel hunting, numerous game bugs
genre: point-and-click adventure
release: April 2006
developer: White Birds Productions
publisher: Ubisoft
Good
Overall: 60%


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