Orphen: Scion Of Sorcery Review

By: John Doe

What do you get when you attempt to endow a character with all the admirable traits of some of the most popular characters of video gamedom? A smart-ass fink that nobody likes. Orphen is the character in question here and he is he star of Activision's RPG, Orphen: Scion of Sorcery. For those of you without a dictionary handy, scion means descendant, but I maintain that it means smarmy smart-ass and I defy who's played this game anyone to contradict me.


Orphen and his two sidekicks, Magnus and Cleo embark on a template-inspired quest on Chaos Island to find the missing pieces of the Crystal Egg. Not only are the pieces scattered throughout the island, they're scattered throughout time; the same place where my keys, wallet and the occasional twenty-dollar bill disappear. Time has to be shifted in order to bring all the pieces back together and make everybody happy and rejoice that they don't live in the Ukraine.

Orphen makes his way through this lackluster linear adventure, with cutscenes, cinemas and interactions with other characters that, for the most part, make me want to set my alarm for a wake-up call somewhere near the end of the game. Although the game is played out in linear fashion, it is rendered in 3D. Nothing can be taken away from the graphics however. It's the only element of this game that I would attribute the word remarkable to. The dialogues are so bad that they're embarrassing. Attitude is substituted for substance, and even if Orphen did say something I might consider listening to, the badly synched lips make him appear to lose more credibility than a neurosurgeon with a whiskey bottle in each hand.

You know how some old ladies have voices pitched lower than whiskey-drinking, chain-smoking truck driver? Well Sephy displays that genetic propensity with a voice that is incongruent with her age. It's like the guys at Shade just got the cleaning woman to do the voice over at the last minute. As if this wasn't bad enough, the voice-overs are hampered with dead air, interrupted with loading and rife with mysterious non-sensible clues which you have to remember and piece together later with other bits of cryptic warbling.

The battles are one of the best parts of the game. They occur in real times and while presenting you with a challenge, they're not overwhelming. A number of spells can be employed during a battle but not simultaneously. You'll have to choose the right spell for the right job. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you'll have your sequence of attack memorized for every subsequent encounter and you can continue your journey while your opponent lies rotting on the cobblestone. Four spells can be used for each fight including a protective shield, lightning bolts, fireballs, close-range strikes and long-range attacks which implement the use of a lock-on targeting system.

Operating the controls is easy enough and the sounds, minus anything that the characters say, are top notch. Even through an old mono TV the lightning crashed and the monsters groaned authentically. As authentic as a real monster would sound if there were such things and you could actually corral one into the recording studio. Tell it that it can eat the Backstreet Boys and that it better hurry because they're starting to rot.

This is clearly an effort that was released before its time. It's not fully realized and that may hurt future developments of what could be a promising franchise. Yes there are moments of brilliance, however brief, but it's not enough to compete with some of the other great RPG titles out there. You can wander for long periods down unadorned hallways and paint-by-number dungeons before stumbling upon an area of magnificent beauty such as the ship's stateroom which is located at the beginning of the game. It's filled with animated and rendered effects such as swinging chandeliers, lush swaying curtains and reflected light cast from the torches on the wall. Attempting to find the next graphic jackpot was virtually the only thing that inspired me to continue with this game; that and the fact that this is my job. Yes I know you all feel sorry for me but I'm telling you that you don't know the definition of tragic when you are forced to play games such as this while on the Tele is a documentary on George Washington's cousin, Hubris, the youngest military officer who didn't know the meaning of the word: squalid. Life isn't fair, but games such as this sure make you wish it were shorter.

It seems that the only reason this game was prematurely removed from its developmental womb was to take advantage of hype-driven consumers and early Christmas shoppers. You know, the ones who have to have it all taken care of before Thanksgiving - of the previous year. It appears that Activision has glossed over the inspection of the game and said, "Good enough. Let's fire it out to stores immediately and damn the torpedoes. Set the controls for predictability, and full speed ahead with mediocrity."

Well consider this review a torpedo. It won't sink the company; it probably won't even make an audible noise as it explodes near its general vicinity. But if I can at least stop one kid from investing his or her money (or their parent's money) in this squalid epic, then my job done was done. Considering Activision has brought out amazing game after amazing game (Tony Hawk 1&2, Spiderman, Tenchu etc.) they are allowed one screw up. This is it.






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