Title Ishar 3: The 7 Gates Of Infinity (AGA) Game Type RPG Company Silmarils Players 1 Compatibility AGA HD Installable Yes Submission Cathy Macdonald Profiled Reviewer Review The sequel to "Ishar2: The Messengers Of Doom" (see separate review) this game takes up the story long after the (apparent) destruction of Shandar, by Zubaran and his companions. Yes, you've guessed it - Shandar is not quite as destroyed as we all hoped. Now he exists as some malevolent spirit, and is messing about with Time in a bid to enter the body of the powerful Black Dragon of Sith so that he can carry out his evil designs. Said Dragon must be found and destroyed before Shandar can do this. This is the ultimate object of the game. The Silmarils' standard of graphics is sustained and, even, improved upon. The realism enhancements introduced in the prequel have remained. A major plus for this game is the ability to sell things (as opposed to just buying). The gameplay, however, has not really advanced on "Ishar2". There was really little added in this sequel. In fact, even with the introduction of the Time Travel metaphor, it may be said that it has devolved. Each Time Zone has its own landscape, climate and inhabitants. Apart from the addition of the Mangrove Swamp, these are little more than rearranged versions of the landscapes found in "Ishar2". The only addition is the animated speaking characters, who appear to be digitised versions of real people (possible look-alikes include a spaced-out middle aged Bruce Dern, a Gabriel Byrne/Dustin Hoffman cross and a bearded Mel Gibson). The inclusion of digitised speech as well would have worked wonderfully, at least as an option for those with capable machines. Other character animation has been slightly improved upon, not as static as in the prequels. A noticable animal theme has been introduced in this game, and these creatures, e.g. Racoon (who's really a wizard) Wolves (cute but vicious) and Polar Bears (ditto) are well drawn and animated. The interface has mostly undergone only slight cosmetic changes, plus more accessible load/save icons, whilst retaining the improved functionality of "Ishar2". You are an older Zubaran in the sprawling city of Koren-Bahnir (named after a Princess you later find) being the former Zach City. You start out alone, poor (but not broke) and wielding a short sword for your safety and comfort. However, you have the option of using your team from the prequels, or devising a whole team. However, there seems to be a bug in this latter option. You immediately meet a young man who gives you valuable information to get you started on your convoluted way. And, as he promises, you will meet him again... and again. There is a map in this game which shows your position, plus indications of the places found/informed of. Unfortunately, it is only available for Koren-Bahnir, nowhere else. You spend your time working through various sub-quests which must be completed in order to fulfil your ultimate quest. This sequel does rely more heavily on precursive tasks, and, unfortunately becomes rather more linear than "Ishar2". These sub-quests largely involve the appearance of the Time Gates, and what to accomplish as a result. That makes it sound pretty straightforward, but in practice, it isn't. For one thing, there are not actually 7 Gates, there are 4, through which different things happen depending when you pass through. Again, there is a variety of characters with which to interact/kill. Most are much tougher than previously, and some, like the city thugs, become stronger whilst you appear to become less effective against them. This may be another bug, of course. Thankfully, the crashing fault has finally been eliminated. Unfortunately, the "Non-AGA" AGA persists. So, how was it to play? A little more challenging than its prequel, mainly in that foes are tougher and the puzzles often rather obscure. Personally, one got the general feeling that it doesn't always hang together, and, perhaps, an element of making-it-up-as-they-go-along. As previously mentioned, apart from the Time Travel idea, it is a pretty unimaginative sequel. There are the clocks (to avoid yet more hanging around, if you could figure them out) and the lava pits, too, I suppose - twice. Levers, are much simpler than in "Ishar2" (in which they drive me nuts at one point). Of the series, "Ishar2" stands out. Maybe Silmarils were getting bored or laissez-faire? (It was not the state-of-Amiga syndrome, as I know they also produced for the PC). As expected from the Time Travel business, most things can only be done at certain times. This tends to mean quite a bit of hanging about. There is also quite a bit of uncertain wandering, and one or two events definitely seem to have no purpose at all. At least you can sell the apparently useless Edelweiss, Chaos Sword and poisonous Black Mushrooms. The Dragon is horrendously hard to defeat, and one tended to get fed up traipsing back and forth to town to restore. Another bug is suspected here as the dice seems to be loaded against the teams strength, as it was against the thugs. The Dragon's hide can't be as tough as that: 1-4 hit points when you know you can wield 30+? Anyway, when you eventually wear the Dragon down, you can call it a day. Overall? To be honest, a bit of a let down after, "Ishar2". Difficulty level? Not novice, you need a bit of experience, but you are not pushed if you've been through the prequels. Personally, I think I even enjoyed "Ishar1" more than this. Perhaps I expected too much? I definitely expected more. Worth having a go anyway.