'The Fortress of Unreasonable Darkness' by Douglas442


Review machine: Athlon 950, 256Mb, ATI Radeon 64Mb DDR @ 1024,768 Reviewed 02/06/01 Download (UK) (Russia)


TFOUD is a ground only level where you play as Rynn who has traveled back in time to Drakan's long distant past; to a time where the human inhabitants of Drakan were a far more technologically advanced race to as they are now. Rynn has to retrieve a powerful weapon that would be able to help her defeat the alien invasion of Drakan in her time. Now these aliens have invaded Drakan before and Rynn arrives in the middle of an attack on a Drakanian knowledge centre and the powerful weapon that lies far below it. She just has to get there first. 

Its worth mentioning here that TFOUD is actually the second level in a 2 or 3 level series but the author may not release the other levels for various reasons - partly because Surreal software has adopted an alien invasion theme for PS2Drakan. This isn't a problem though as its been designed to stand on its own; the other two levels are not necessarily required to complete the story.

Main review:

Tfoud is a medium sized level that is bursting with new ideas; it contains lots of new sounds, textures and new models to accommodate for the new environment and enemies as outlined in the introduction. You will come across serpents, a lava monster and even a submarine to name but a few. The storyline to the game is a bit hard to follow and I've tried to summarize it the best I can so you may find it confusing but however as you play through the level it will become more apparent (no really!)

Level architecture is good with well made hills and lakes that surround the mountain, which at the summit, the knowledge centre lies. The level has an eerie atmosphere aided by the strange red sky and the flaming meteors that rain down on the land which ideally you have to avoid unless you want to be turned into a flaming fireball yourself. The lighting is good too; it sets the mood of the level perfectly, for example you are wandering round in the semi darkness and suddenly a fireball will smash through the building in front of you turning it into flaming cinders. Thunder rages in the strange sky and impressive lightning strikes are common lighting up the area keeping you on your toes.

The new textures were good - I liked the knowledge centre at the top of the mountain with the breakable stained glass windows and such and the new monsters were cool particularly the lava monster. Oh and the submarine; that looked really good sort of like the one out of 20 thousand leagues under the sea. Your trip in the sub is very short but you can play around with the working controls and look at the cool interior. I also liked the animations of destroyed objects, things break up when hit for example the trees in the end cutscene (I won't tell you more as it will spoil the ending) but you will see what I mean when you get there.

There's lots of other enhancements too that make the gameplay more interesting; I won't tell you anymore so you will have some surprises if you haven't yet played the level. There's also one or two humourous things in it too mainly the comments made by Rynn (I think they are new) for example when she goes into the outhouse to retrieve a key she will say 'ugh it smells like somebody died in here!' - little things that make you smile.

Now for the ugly bits; there are one or two places where Rynn simply cannot pick things up such as keys and health potions. One example is the key in the outhouse - you can't get it by standing in front of it, instead you have to stand behind the outhouse and 'reach through the wall' to pick it up. Another example is the cluster of heath potions in a house; you can only get them by standing in between the bed and wall then you get stuck. I also didn't like the narrow paths where you have to jump through a opening in the rock.

Enemy placement was reasonably OK but they were all triggered, most of them appeared behind you as if out of nowhere (particularly the orcs) which seemed a bit daft also the dragon ghost bomb was a pain in the ass - this has to be defeated or else you cannot enter the knowledge centre unless you cheat (like I did)

So overall, its a pretty good level with some new ideas and interesting gameplay elements. Even if you have a 56K modem, its worth the download. BTW, it has a great ending cutscene!


Rating; Architecture & lighting: Texturing:  9  Item & enemy placement: 6

Atmosphere: 9 Gameplay / new ideas / enhancements: 9.5 bugs: a few insignificant ones

Total: 83%



Click the images to enlarge.


           Inside the 'sub


    The Knowledge Centre


        Destroyed Village