Reality used to be a friend of mine. PM Dawn once sung that line in a song of theirs and even though they look quite stupid they were, in fact, correct. Reality is something we game reviewers don't get a taste of very often.
I know this opening sounds a bit deep and you're thinking that I've flipped my lid or been experimenting with funny smelling cigarettes, but I haven't, so stick with it!
Game reviewers are more lucky than most other games players because we get to play every game that comes out on the market and we get them all for free. I can hear your punters searing under your breath even as I write this, and all I can say is "ha!".
Don't be disheartened though because we have to play everything including all the bad games and struggling through those is not a pleasant experience.
Disorientation is also a major problem. In one day you may find yourself flying a spaceship through the outer reaches of the galaxy shooting down waves of nasty alien beasties from the Planet X.
Ten minutes later you're a cutesy, happy-go-
Whatever you are, all these games are enough to give you a bad case of shizophrenia. One of the best types of games for you to lose yourself in is an adventure - see, told you I'd get there in the end. Here you can take the form of a warrior, wizard or whatever takes your fancy. Forget about modern day life and lose yourself in worlds of wonder and lands of fantasy. Last year Silmarils released Ishar and it received critical acclaim from games players and reviewers alike.
In my best Jackanory story-
This is an adventure game though, so the golden age doesn't last very long. It wouldn't be much of an adventure if all you had to do was run around in fields, drink wine and be happy!
Anyway, news reaches you of a new evil demonic figure, who is incidentally the head of a spider-like network of malevolence.
Based on the islands surrounding Ishar, this evil organisation is supplying addictive mind-
Once again you must strap on your sword, brush up on your spellcraft and pack your sandwiches as you head for the islands with a brand new and sparkling team of heroes.
Like its predecessor, Ishar 2 is entirely controlled via the mouse. The left-hand button is used to select and the right-hand can be used to cancel the current operation and also close the menus selected. Most adventurers I know, like myself, prefer to use a combination between the mouse and the keyboard and Ishar 2 lets you do exactly this. Thus the numeric pad emulates the movements of the mouse. Various other keys can be used instead of the left and right hand mouse buttons.
As you wander around the world of Kendoria you will meet many people and your first job is to recruit a team. This consists of a maximum of five characters, all of which have their own weaknesses and strengths. If you were lucky enough to play the first Ishar game and if you can still find your save disk, then you can re-use an old team from the game.
The characters will retain their characteristics but they will lose their possessions and magic spells. Sometimes the characters' experience levels will be slightly altered to suit those present in Ishar 2.
I won't spend my time explaining every little detail about what you can do and how to control everything because it'll get very boring, plus I'll leave you to find out yourself which will generate hours of fun for you, err probably. I'll go over a few of the basics, though, in a short but informative manner.
The first things you need to learn is how to survive in the world of Kendoria, and this involves a quick lesson in the ancient art of fighting. Fights in Ishar 2 take place in real time. The fight panel groups together the fight icons of each player with their active weapon. These icons are arranged in a quincunx - a very big and posh word which basically means that four of them are placed at the corners of a square with one in its centre.
These fight icons represent the five characters in the team, each identified by their own Roman numeral. To make a team member strike an enemy all you have to do is click on the corresponding fight icon.
Hits that the enemy gives to your team are represented on the picture by a small patch of blood showing the damage points that your victim has lost. The damage depends on several parameters, the power of the weapon, strength, agility, skill in weaponry and your enemy's constitution.
Other features include options to enroll, dismiss and even assassinate members of your team. You can also give first aid to a person if they are badly injured.
To get around the world you have a compass positioned at the top of the screen, but what every decent adventurer never leaves home without is a map. In Ishar 2 a map of the whole archipelago appears on the screen. By selecting one of the islands, you will obtain a detailed map of it showing your actual position represented ya flashing dot. At the start of the game the map is incomplete, but as you you progress throughout the world it will slowly become more complete.
In the world there are several different places that you can visit. First are the shops which there are three different kinds, animal traders, arms dealers and general merchants.
Inns play a major part in the game - they're where you pick up information, eat food and sleep. Houses are also dotted arbout and you can expect to meet other people who will give you valuable information or suggest missions to you. If you're lucky you might even find a few objects in there. To get from island to island you must find a harbour. Here you will find a boats
There are a whole wealth of options that I've not even bothered to tell you about due to lack of space, but no doubt you'll find all about them when you by the game yourself.
Oops, in one cunning swoop I've just told you my opinion of it. Yes, I'm afraid to say that Ishar 2 is a must-buy and should get to the top of every decent gamer's hopping list. The graphics are luscious and beat every other adventure game of this ilk down to the ground. Some of the later levels are a sight to behold and the sprites are just as fantastic. The music is not too bad - quite atmospheric - and what sound effects you hear are more than adequate.
I can't fault Ishar 2 on the playability and addiction front. The control and icon systems work brilliantly and even the most inadequate gamer will be adventuring before you know it. Technically it beats all its competitors up with a big stick, but it is getting a very old and tired format, one of which I'm personally getting a bit sick of.
You could compare it to Dungeon Master and you wouldn't find much difference apart form the improvements in the graphics and sound departments. I wouldn't mind seeing something a little different the next time around, possibly something as original as when Dungeon Master first came out.
Apart from that little quibble, Ishar 2 really is a winner and previous owners of Ishar are probably placing advance orders even as we speak. If you want a little adventure and excitement in your life, you'd do no wrong by getting to grips with this.