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?
- Mac OS 8.6 or higher
- 233 MHz iMac (recommended
- 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.
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.
- Full 360° graphical
detail & full motion video
- Pleasant music and
appropriate ambient noise
- Great humor interspersed
throughout the game
- Intuitive interface
- Too much useless
- 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
3 1/2 out of 5 Mice