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Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura
(hx) 08:58 PM CEST - Aug,22 2001

Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (Arcanum) is the first title by Troika Games, a company founded by three of the key people behind Black Isle's post-apocalyptic isometric RPG, Fallout.  No wonder, Arcanum is in some ways very much like Fallout, but at the same time it is a new world rich in atmosphere and new ideas. Arcanum is set in a steam punk world in the mid 19th century. Technology and magic have reached an unstable equilibrium, with technology being on the rise in the last 70 years, and magic being in decline from its once penultimate position in the world. Being a true Tolkienesque fantasy world, Arcanum is populated with elves, orcs, humans, dwarves, ogres, gnomes and halflings. However, with the advent of technology, the races' roles in society have radically changed, bringing additional tension to the world. Now there are two distinct sides - technology and "magick" (as it is spelled in the game). That mean a skilled technologist will find casting spells nearly impossible and will likewise be much less vulnerable to magic attacks and vice versa, any magically proficient character will unable to use much technology and will not have much dread from tech weapons. You can guess what is better :)  Arcanum features a skill-based system, so there are no restrictions to the character you want to make. It's smart for gamers who don't like the formal class designations. Arcanum is played from an isometric perspective, similarly to Baldur's Gate II, Icewind Dale or Diablo II. Like in most RPGs, your time in Arcanum is mostly spent traveling from point to point either by walking in the standard game map, setting way points in the world map, or taking trains or boats, engaging in combat, and talking to various NPCs. Arcanum features 12 different male/female characters ( Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling and Half-Ogre) with the standard stats such as strength, dexterity, intelligence, and hit points, technological skills, 16 colleges of magick (Conveyance, Divination, Elemental Air, Elemental Earth, Elemental Fire, Elemental Water, Force, Mental, Meta, Morph, Nature, Necromantic (Evil), Necromantic (Good), Phantasm, Summoning, Temporal), each containing 5 spells of increasing strength - so overall it's 80 spells that players can learn,and  turn-based or real-time combat. Although combat is a major part of Arcanum, this part of game kinda disappointed me. How I mentioned above, you can choose from two combat modes: real-time and turn-based. Since the real-time combat is practically uncontrollable, the other one -  turn-based is very basic and limited. If you like to directly control your party members, forget it here :( In addition the game suffers from serious slowdowns from time to time. Anyway, Arcanum is very addictive game with the great plot that will keep you enthralled for hours and hours. If you are RPG gamer, you will probably very like this SIMPLE, but very entertaining game. Download playable demo (255MB) and read this FAQ to find more details.

snd: 4/5 - wonderful orchestral score (though repetitive) and good voice acting
gfx: 3/5 - dated, fixed 800x600 resolution, some slowdown during battles, beautifully rendered videos
playability: 4/5 - addictive, great plot, about 40-50 hours of playing time, good replayability, cool mix magick&technology, turn-based combat is not available in multi-player mode, interface needs to get used
genre: RPG
release: August 2001
developer: Troika Games
publisher: Sierra Studios
Overall: 80%

last 10 comments:

Inlookposted - Sep, 15 2001 - 17:26
This game is VERY cool... But let me first start of with what LoGi[C] sayas about the "savegame corrupted" thing: - I did get that shit to when I had played two days and was at that "Bens" figure in the mantion after have been on the "pirate isle"... Damn shit, and what really makes me thinking a lot in this issue is that not *only* my main savegame is corrupted, nope, but *ALL* my saves is... So, here we don't have a bug, and if someone should ask me I should say that this is a little "anti-piracy" thing thay have, and no shadow on LoGi[C], but he got the game very early, okay, maybe since he live in USA, I don't know, but the point in this mess is that the "update" from Tronka does not even mention any fixes to the "corrupted savegame" thing... and *maybe* the gameengine is smart enugh to see that is is "pirated"..? Well, there *IS* an workaround in all cases: - MAKE BACKUP OF THE SAVEGAMES EVERY TWO HOURS (Alt TAB and do it!). I hate lame BUG's and ANTI piracy shit! So, now down to the game... In Baldurs Gate 1 and 2 and Icwind Dale and Planscape Torment we have a PROBLEM that does NOT exist in Arcanum: - Here one can be EVIL with GOOD results in all aspects, AND, one can TOTALY ROB the shopkeepers from ALL their stuff, and one can do it in many ways, just like in REAL LIFE, i.e. one can KILL them, or one can sneak or use magic, but as in real life (and here Arcanum is COOL) one have to be observant and see that noone see what one is doing... I like to kill the shopkeepers slow and nice, then I take everything... also, one can sneak in and steal, then one can return later in some days and steal new stuff from him... Man, this is NO lame Dungeon and Dragons shit, here it's plain COOL RPG when it's 100% RPG and not any thing else... did I tell that one can pickpocket everyone, and if there is troubble one just to a fast and mercifull "dagerkill" on the asshole! If one is a dogodder then one can do a lot of nice things so even the angels cry, it's to sweet, so where the Black Isle games stink of "limited" RPG in a 4x4 box there ARCANUM kills with a fat blow to deliver PURE RPG.... Also, a bonus is the dialog system that outruns Baldurs Gate with 300% - It's not any fucking "reused" voices.. Hell, I hated so mycj when I did see GFX from Baldus Gate in Planscape Torment and BG1 art in BG2, and if one use the Bioware hack and go into the MAIN files in BG2 then one see that 95% of *ALL* BG1 art is LEFT there, i.e. if the lame coders had cut that SHIT out from BG2 then there would have been ONE CD less!!!! still, the fact is here to stay, with some updates (give it some time)on cracks and patches this game *WILL* rule over everything!!! This IS indeed something for *ALL* that want action/planning/magic/evil & good and a GOOD story!!!

Nitriousposted - Apr, 20 2002 - 23:58
I didn't have any problems with Arcanum, unlike the people above. I think it is a great game... some tricky parts are involved, but there is always a 'cheap' way around them. I would say go for it and buy it, but then again, I didn't have any problems with it.

MaKaVeLi a.K.a. LoGiposted - Aug, 26 2001 - 23:20
Was walking around in a local shopping arcade when I stumbled across a local game shop. For the sake of satisfying my curiosity, I walked into the game shop and stumbled across Arcanum. Now, what may that be? I'm not an avid gammer but I do play RPG games. Read the preview and decided to go back and download the 220MB demo. Man, the game rocks I thought. Just before I bought the whole thing, I decided to cheat. Yea, a little devil I am. Seems like the whole thing rocks. So, I went back to the shopping plaza, grab the box and went back to my cool comfortable room and installed the what is to be a buggy game but cool enough to make me awake for 4 nights straight. The installation took me about 10 minutes on my T-bird 1000MHz, 256 MB PC133 Kingston RAM with a RAID Level 0 1 device. Ironically, it took only 4 minutes or so on my Duron 880 [ originally 800 ] MHz with 256 PC 150MB with ATA 100 hard disk. ( both of the hard disk runs on 7200 RPM ) All done, so I started the game. Loads fine. I have no problem with the loading, the graphic and the sound. Guess that Sierra did a great job with it. I took me by suprise when Sierra seemed to added a new scene to the starting point of the game. It all went fine till later part of the game. My game starts to lag a little. Okay, that's fine. It's acceptable since I got 5 people in my party including myself when I'm in a large town with dozens of people in it... but when I started to use some of the magics, it seems to freeze for a couple of seconds before any next frame would appear. That's bad. VERY bad. I'm on Gigahertz PC and I'm lagging ? That's funny. Now, now, I didn't forget to switch off any background process. I'm not lame. I then came upon this Nightwalker guy in Stillwater. He seems, nice. Actually, TOO nice. *hehe* A buy here enables me to exploit the money exploit in the entire game and made me a real rich man. If you complete his quest, and give him the ruby then steals him back and sells it back to him, and repeat this process, you'll eventually end up like me. A real rich man. That's a good bug now. Thumbs up. :) Well, I then came to this remote village of the elfs. Damm, I love Raven. With all the love there, there's one thing I hate. That elf girl. Somehow, when you complete her quest, it seems that she just won't leave your party. Maybe it's because I'm using the teleportation spell but again, who knows? A bug is a bug. Ah.. with all that, I still don't mind. I kept my trusty coffee beside me with lotsa pizzas with me through the whole 4 nights. I kept going till I finally need to face that worthless punk Arranox or whatever his name and I somehow NEED to go to the toilet. Nature calls. Stomach problem. Considering I've been turning my trusty buddy, Eve IV, my PC, on for 3 days, I decided to save the game and give it a rest. Then, with all my personal business done ( calling up my gf and say that I'm sick and I can't go out with her and all ), I booted the PC hoping that I'll kick some bad arse ONLY to find out that " Cannot load game. Savegame is corrupted " "ARGHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!," I scream. 4 nights! 4 nights of no sleep and I came to this?! To and end where I get the message. Savegame Corrupted?! This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo not idiotic. Though with all the commotion in my room, the banging, the screaming and the words ( god knows it is really explicit ) , I manage to calm myself and restart the whole quest. Only this time, I know that I must backup my savegame. I don't blame Sierra for all this though. I only expect a good patch out of it. I don't blame them because Arcanum is really a good RPG that surpasses Diablo, Diablo II, Baldurs Gate 1 & 2 ( though I got no comment on Throne of Bhall yet ). The complexity of the game design, the non linear storyline, the character classifications and the magical word ( urgh.. mechanical world to you mechanics out there ) seems to attract a non gamer like me to get stuck to the PC for days. Making me a anti social freak, but hey, it's worth it. Seriously Sierra dudes, you guys rock but with all the rocking, I suggest you get yer butt down working on the patch or people would start revolting.

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