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|This is the closest a CRPG has ever come to matching my criteria: fantastic quests that encourage lateral thinking,
a rich gaming environment, memorable NPCs, and strong character development, including deeply interactive subplots with NPCs who remember reactions
you had to them five conversations ago. Shadows of Amn is an AD&D-based, six-character role-playing adventure of expansive scope, extremely customizable
and replayable. Another highlight is the surprisingly good voice acting.
Baldur's Gate II Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|This dark, highly original CRPG was created by the same team who brought us the Baldur's Gate series. Complex characters,
an engrossing mood, and an excellent musical score carry a plot that is more philosophical than heroic.
Planescape Torment Review Hints Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|Based on a Polish series of fantasy-adventure novels, this is the most visually breathtakingly CRPG I've ever played.
Normally that isn't my main criterion for gaming excellence, but luckily The Witcher is also a complex, morally ambiguous epic full of intricate
quests that can be solved in multiple ways each of which will still be having ramifications three chapters later. The only fly in the ointment is that
you have no choice but to play the main character from the novel as your PC, which limits the replayability value.
The Witcher Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|This relatively short game is really just an add-on to Shadows of Amn and isn't worth playing unless you've already
played that excellent game; but if you have, Throne of Bhaal puts a strong finish to the roleplaying saga, offering everything from
high-level combat feats through resolutions to long-running dramatic subplots. Anyone who enjoyed its excellent predecessor will appreciate
the satisfying conclusion provided by Throne of Bhaal.
Throne of Bhaal Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|This action-adventure tour-de-force offers incredible detail, gorgeous graphics,
interesting story arcs including some highly interactive ones, and by far the most customizable main character available in a
PC game to date. The only downside is a rather low ratio of meaningful and challenging plot developments to dull
occurences which can give the game a somewhat sterile feel in places.
Oblivion Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|If you're hoping to recreate that classic six-character CRPG feel without
the annoying archaic graphics and interfaces, this is definitely the game for you. The plot is basic and
the quests par for the course, but the 3D interface is wonderfully intuitive, character development is satisfying,
and the voicesets are entertaining.
Wizardry 8 Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|Morrowind starts slow, with a long, dull, aimless-feeling early game in which delivering a letter seems to be the
highlight of your character's life. If you can wait that stuff out, though, there's a really good game waiting for you on the other side. Excellent
character development, quests with more than one solution, and open-ended gameplay compensate for the terrible pacing and mediocre interface
of this first-person CRPG.
Morrowind Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|One of the best CRPG's of all time, Ultima 7 features a richly interactive setting, memorable characters, and a plot
that arrests your attention from the first beat. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with Windows 2000, XP, or almost any modern sound card, and
requires special software and a system boot disk to run on even an older system. The most difficult puzzle in the game can be getting the
thing to start. A clunky interface and lack of customizability also interfere with the entertainment value somewhat.
Ultima VII Review Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|Like its predecessor, the fine old DOS game Betrayal at Krondor, Return to Krondor foists pre-assigned
characters on you and frequently rearranges your party to suit its rather linear plot; if you can forgive it that much, though,
the excellent story, interactive quests with multiple solutions, surprisingly good dialogue, and fun skill-based character
advancement make this a memorably entertaining game.
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|Gothic 2 is an original CRPG with an interactive gameworld and outstanding open-ended
problem-solving. Its shine is somewhat diminished by a clumsy interface and a main character over whom you have little control,
but it's still easy to lose yourself in its deeply immesive play.
Gothic II Review Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|Usually I regret picking computer games out of the bargain bin, but this low-budget CRPG was
a pleasant surprise. Siege of Avalon is well-written and capably executed, and though the game is marred by excessive travel time
and some problems with combat balance, it's overall a fun and satisfying epic.
Siege of Avalon Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|These German CRPGs never really caught on in the US for some reason, even after
Wizardry developer SirTech picked up the titles. Our loss; they're good games. The first two are rather dated ("Blade of Destiny" was
released in 1993), but there's plenty to enjoy in them anyway, especially the dungeons;
the third and final game, Shadows Over Riva, is excellent all around.
Arkania Review Walkthrough Buy These Games (Amazon affiliate link)
|Another title from Black Isle Studios, but this one is an old-school AD&D hack-and-slash adventure, so don't buy it
expecting the innovative play of the Baldur's Gate series or Planescape Torment--the plot is linear and the character interaction simple.
If you're at all fond of dungeon romps, though, this one features interesting combat sequences, fun character advancement, and a soundtrack
worth the price of the game on its own.
Icewind Dale Review Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|This techno-magical CRPG is something of a mixed bag. The steampunk milieu is wonderfully original, character development is fun,
and the game offers a wealth of flexible quests with multiple solutions. Unfortunately the game is not very interactive and has little customizability;
the NPCs are two-dimensional and annoying, and the gameplay is buggy and wretchedly slow. It's still worth playing through once just for its
clever quests and overall steampunky goodness, but only if you're a dedicated CRPG enthusiast with plenty of patience to spare.
Arcanum Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
From its formulaic plot to its just-barely-tweaked roster of classic Wizardry races, this game does its best to
recreate the feel of early-90's classic CRPG's like Wizardry 6 and 7 and Might and Magic IV and V--and it succeeds,
but unfortunately, it also recreates all the interface and gameplay aggravations that other computer games have improved on since 1992. If you're a fan of
the classics, you're likely to enjoy Wizards and Warriors despite these irritations, but if you're used to the flexibility and interactivity of modern CRPG's, you
may find yourself disappointed.
Wizards and Warriors Review Walkthrough Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
|This addition to the venerable Might and Magic series of RPGs is stolidly so-so:
the plot is all right but has no flexibility, the quests are copious but primarily involve ferrying objects around,
the graphics are nice enough but the interface is unpleasant. This isn't a bad game, but it's not exactly compelling, either.
Might and Magic IX Review Hints Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
This classic CRPG trilogy shows its age in its turn-based combat and chunky isometric graphics, but somehow it's still fun a decade later--
and unlike many older games, it plays straight out of the box (no SloMo or painstaking computer reconfigurations necessary).
The plot is dull and most of the quests are delivery-boy errands, but there are a number of memorable exceptions (including a quest to
build your own castle), and it's overall a pretty good playthrough.
Worlds of Xeen Review Hints Buy These Games (Amazon affiliate link)
|Wizardry Gold is just about the campiest computer role-playing game ever written, but if that doesn't bother you--and if you have the patience
for the long, tedious combat sequences that plagued the early Wizardry games--then the interesting plot, smooth interface,
great character development system, and extensive customizability make this classic CRPG one worth revisiting.
Crusaders of the Dark Savant Review Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
These three games not only defined classic role-playing games in their era, each also expanded the scope of CRPG's in some innovative way.
Ultima IV had a unique objective--not slaying a villain or finding an artifact, but completing a complex
spiritual journey. Ultima V had a revolutionary plot and interactive characters. Ultima VI turned the mythology of the series on its head and forced the main
character to examine his or her spirituality from a new angle--a step too bold for most computer game series. This classic trilogy has not
aged so well (the interface is unpleasant, combat and dungeons are aggravating, and the graphics are in-your-face dated), but the freshness and wonder
of the games still shines through if you have the patience to let it.
Ultima 4, 5, and 6 Review Buy These Games (Amazon affiliate link)
I wanted to like this game, I really did. The concept is great: you play a god, but instead of building sewer systems and fancy buildings for your worshippers
as in a standard simulation game, you instead get to shape their society through a series of increasingly thorny CRPG-style quests and take on rival deities and their
followers in divine combats. That's the theoretical concept, anyway. In practice, 95% of this game is about training a @#$!@!! virtual pet not to poop on the floor.
I only wish I were exaggerating. The training interface is so lousy it hurt my wrist, too. It's unfortunate, because the god parts were intriguing; but unless you
really like virtual pets, you won't enjoy this one.
Black and White Review Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
This disappointing one-character CRPG boasts "hundreds" of quests--but accomplishes this by repeatedly generating random dungeons
and placing random items somewhere inside them to be retrieved. I don't know about you, but I sure didn't want to do that hundreds of times.
There are few puzzles, no character interaction, and the 3D environments are very buggy. The only bright spot is the extensive customizability you get with
your character, who does not need to conform to any particular character class.
Daggerfall Review Buy This Game (Amazon affiliate link)
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