Title Ishar 2: Messengers Of Doom (AGA) Game Type RPG Company Silmarils Players 1 Compatibility AGA HD Installable Yes Submission Cathy Macdonald Profiled Reviewer Review The sequel to "Ishar: Legend Of the Fortress" (see separate review) this game takes up the story long after the destruction of Krogh, by Aramir and his companions - including Krogh's own mother, the witch Morgula! (I doubt they would have done it without her.) The former Fortress of Ishar became the new growth epicentre for the Aborean archipelago - The Isle of Kendoria and diverse islands named after Jarel's companions. Chief is Zach Island, which has a developed city as a result of immigration. Taking advantage of this, yet another evil lord arose - Shandar. His illicit dealings in hallucinogenics gave his son fame and fortune, whilst he, having gained cult status among many, seeks to regain the Ishar throne. Zubaran, Ishar's current Ruler, hears of this. So, naturally, Shandar must be found and destroyed. This is the ultimate object of the game. The Silmarils' standard of graphics and gameplay is sustained, and in parts improved upon, in this evolved creation of a larger and more involved fantasy world. Each island (except Kendoria itself, which is simply narrative backdrop in this sequel) has its own landscape, climate, inhabitants and developmental stage: from snowy mountain wastes inhabited by monsters and weirdos, through rainforests inhabited by wild creatures and some gentler folk, to the temperate and very cosmopolitan city inhabited by - well all sorts. Additions to this game include the introduction of topography, with the illusion of ascending/descending gradients in the mountains, and the reintroduction, from "Crystals Of Arborea" (see separate review) of the changing light between night and day. Both work well in adding a greater sense of realism, as do enhanced sound effects. There is a greater variety of characters/creatures - including suspiciously-familiar "Ewok" and "Jawa" types ("Star Wars" influence here?). Everything is, again, nicely drawn, but the animation remains "static": I feel that animated brushes could be used more imaginatively, especially given the detail put into character and background design. The clever interface has been improved upon in that a) the combat icons are now separate from the access panels, thus preventing the miss-hits during fast combat in its predecessor, and b) weapons-in-hand are immediately visible; no more clicking into sub-panels to find out. Positive changes giving enhanced functionality. You are Zubaran. You start out alone, broke etc., but you have the option of using your team from "Ishar 1" (wimp!). There is trouble almost immediately to hand, but best avoided at this juncture to head straight to the village. Village? How could Zubi know? Ah ha! There is a map in this game which, unlike its predecessor, actually shows your position, plus (rather vague) indications of places to go/avoid. You possess one piece of parchment at the start - the others must be found as a part of the, almost Byzantine, sub-quests. (Enough said there, I reckon.) Jarel`s fellow heroes, from the "Arborea" quest, are not present this time - being (presumably) long dead - but there is still a variety of characters with which to interact towards various purposes (besides killing them!). Many are vital, as this sequel does rely more heavily on precursive tasks, and, unfortunately in this way, does tend towards the linear - but, not in an obvious, precognitive, or boring, way. Got your head around that? Good. It is not predictable. It is involved. And, to make this involvement somewhat easier, the payment-for-saves has been abandoned by Silmarils, whilst saves-according-to-your-storage-space continues. Furthermore, no more instability with respect to game length occurs. However, on Thorm island there is a crash point, which seems to be associated with time of day. I found that the only way to pass it is during daylight. There must be a better way of detering night-time passage than by crashing the game, Silmarils! Unfortunately, the "Non-AGA" AGA persists (i.e. I needed a "KillAGA" script for A1200). One has to suspect an ad-hoc/rush job on the (so-called) AGA versions. (Mind you, the pre-AGA "Ishar" versions would not run at all on A1200. So it's a bonus? No!). So, how was it to play? Certainly more involved and challenging than its prequel - not least because 1 or 2 tasks were, apparently, illogical: Such required the old Sherlock Holmes' approach "...that which remains, however improbable...". Personally, I feel that the way to make a game more challenging is not by pushing solutions beyond even lateral thinking; things have to make at least a modicom of sense. OK, I'm the naturally artistic type [right cerebrum and all that, and, thus, supposedly, unable to be "logical"] but, come on, Silmarils, we all need to make a connection between cause and effect, however contrived.) Oh, here's an added interesting twist; you can (apparently, though, it's probably a fit up) get away with robbing a bank, but get arrested for entering a certain nightclub (at least once, at the wrong time - but, Ah, ha! it has its reward). And some things can only be done at certain times. Hey, you thought you were tearing your hair out with "Ishar 1"?! Enjoy! Overall? Quite a romp! Escapist adventure, or what?! Less uneventful/aimless wandering than either predecessor ("Arborea" and "Ishar 1". Pay attention). But you need an eagle-eye to pick up on some things, even from the start, e.g. dandelions needed for a potion, to get information from a certain creature on some island (of how much importance? For you to find out!) Difficulty level? Not novice, you need a bit of experience. Not as dull/predictable/frustrating/ unimaginative as one or two other (non-Silmarils) RPGs I could mention. Have fun!