Zork Grand Inquisitor, by MacPlay
Posted: 10-Aug-2002

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacPlay Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Moe Bradley Class: GAMES

Magic has been banned from the great underground empire of Zork. By edict of the Grand Inquisitor, the empire has been sealed off and the practice of magic declared punishable by totemization (a very bad thing). CAN YOU SAVE THE UNDERGROUND?

System Requirements

  • Mac OS 8.6 or higher
  • 233 MHz iMac (recommended G3/400 MHz)
  • 50 MB of Free Memory (recommended 128 MB)

Back in the 1980's, I purchased my first computer, an Apple IIe. It was accompanied home from the store with several other essentials: a dual disk drive, a wide-carriage Imagewriter printer, and a copy of Zork I. Zork became my obsession - I played it for hours on end, writing down clues, drawing maps, Zork Grand Inquisitor (ZGI) is a first-person, GUI, adventure game. It is one of 13 games in the Zork series, which originated over 20 years ago as text-based adventures. If you are/were a Zork aficionado, this installment may prove to be amusing, entertaining, enlightening, or aggravating, depending on how much of a purist you are. At some point in the game, my feelings about ZGI fell under each of those descriptions.

The scenes in ZGI are rendered in full 360° graphical detail. It also incorporates full motion video at some points. It is during these video sequences that I was most amused; ZGI employed the talents of several TV/movie personalities, including Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Gallactica, The A-Team), Rip Taylor (Home Alone 2, Indecent Proposal, The Gong Show) and Erick Avari (Stargate). The characters they portray are an integral part of the story, and each time one of them shows up, you have to listen carefully to what he says. Amusing though this is, it also became annoying as I had to suffer through too much useless dialog before hearing the information that I needed to continue play. And, if I missed something, it wasn't always easy to get them to repeat what they said. Pleasant music plays in the background throughout the game, and ambient noise is evident when and where it is appropriate.

Since ZGI is a graphically-based adventure, you need to be observant of your surroundings in order to look for clues and items needed to solve the puzzles presented throughout the game. The interface for movement is pretty intuitive - arrows vaguely resembling a compass appear on the screen, and the directions in which movement is possible glow purple. If an object can be picked up or touched, your cursor will change to a hand. Your placement of the hand cursor must be precise, or you may waste precious time in solving a puzzle, and wind up seeing a screen gleefully informing you that you have died, and assigning a somewhat insulting game ranking to you. Heed the words you will see and hear throughout the game - SAVE OFTEN.

Most of the humor interspersed throughout the game will strike most players as funny. For those people who have played an earlier game in the series, it may be hysterical, since much of it is based on earlier themes. Many of the scenes in ZGI will look immediately familiar to players of earlier versions as well, as the Great Underground Empire is revealed during the game.

Remember that, as in any Zork game, some of the puzzles must be solved in order to successfully complete the game, while others are just thrown in for fun. Pay close attention to the inventory of stuff you accumulate during the game, and pay very close attention to the spells you pick up along the way. Make sure you carefully examine each and every location you visit. Move your cursor around the screen to see which objects allow an interaction. When you reveal these objects, check your inventories to see if you have anything that could interact with the object in some way - this often requires thinking out of the box!

In the beginning of this review, I mentioned that I was a Zork fan from way back. Unfortunately, I feel that my enthusiasm for the earlier versions of Zork may have stood in the way of my enjoyment of ZGI. While the user interface was not difficult to figure out, I missed the command line interface. Gone was the ability to stack a series of commands and movements together. Each step I took in ZGI had to be done with separate mouse clicks while precious seconds ticked away. It was also impossible to scroll back to check my earlier movements, which was sometimes more than inconvenient.


Summary
If I set my nostalgic feelings aside, ZGI was an enjoyable game. I didn't feel the urge to stay up all night to play it, but I did return to it over the course of several weeks to continue the game. For someone unfamiliar to the mindset of the Zork designers, this game could take 30 to 40 hours to complete; someone familiar with the game and how things work will still spend 20 hours or more to complete it.

Pros:

  • Full 360° graphical detail & full motion video
  • Pleasant music and appropriate ambient noise
  • Great humor interspersed throughout the game
  • Intuitive interface for movement


Cons:

  • Too much useless dialog
  • No ability to stack a series of commands and movements
  • Each step required separate mouse clicks wasting precious seconds
  • Impossible to scroll back to check earlier movements


Overall Rating:

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice