The Temple of Elemental Evil Review

Eschalon: Book II

Developer:Troika Games
Release Date:2003-09-16
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Isometric
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
And speaking of characters and story, TOEE is very ordinary. There are no distinctive personal touches that remain in the mind afterwards, like passion-dead Irenicus (from BG2) trying to recall the emotion with which he loved his long-dead wife, through keeping her old bedroom exactly as it was when she last used it. A very occasional follower adds personal interest such as Zaxis, the bard who sings every comment he makes, whether looting or expressing his cowardice. But by and large, the inhabitants of Hommlet, Nulb, the Temple and the surrounding areas, come across as either markers for quests, merchants, or stock villains for the killing: vanilla-flavored, regardless.

I'm a veteran and avid fans of Microprose's Darklands, which took eight patches before it was fully playable; and remember Ultima IX? So I'm familiar with bugs, and even rather blasé about their appearance. I expect a certain amount of bugs in any new release, given current product complexity. But I have never before seen an RPG which had as many playable bugs as TOEE. Leaving aside its fine share of game-crashers, it simply amazes me that a title was pushed onto the market in this state. Quite a few spells, like Entangle, don't work as they should. Other spells don't work at all, or can't be memorized, or vanish suddenly from memorization. Weapons have the wrong reach, wands weigh ten times as much as they should, and some skill and spell checks aren't made. Feats are inaccurately described, or don't perform correctly. Combat mechanics are mishandled in numerous respects. Even some ostensible (features,) such as the overlooting by followers you can hire that renders them heavily encumbered, sound pretty much like exasperating bugs. None of this prevents TOEE from being playable, at least much of the time, and on most computers, but the sheer massiveness of the bug load is awe-inspiring. A couple of personal friends with far too much time on their hands have already compiled a bug list I've seen. It's more than three pages long.

Any reasonable quality checking department, given sufficient time, could have reduced these problems to a manageable level. The obvious inference is that Q&A didn't get the product, or didn't get it long enough, or performed poorly. The result is just not suitable for primetime, in my opinion. A patch is in the works, according to Atari, but Troika has unabashedly stated that it's collecting data for the patch from player reports. We apparently paid our money for the game (and yes, I bought my copy) for the privilege of being a developer's baseline beta testers. Makes you feel warm all over, doesn't it?

In short, even if you passionately like the kind of RPG described above, I would suggest holding off the purchase of TOEE until the patch is released and check forum websites like GameBanshee to make sure it addresses all the problems.