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Time Is On Our Side
November 10th, 1998 

Gary: What? You want to do another game review already?

Randy: All right, all right. We just did a game review of MDK two columns ago, but I say, we gotta do a review of Buried in Time 3: Legacy of Time.

Gary: Why is that, oh, wise one?

Randy: 'Cause it KICKS ASS!

Gary: Yes, wise one, there is much ass to be kicked.

Randy: Grasshopper, when you can snatch this mouse from my hand, you too may play this most wonderful of games.

Gary: All right Randy. Now that I have the mouse, (that was easy) let's talk about the game. I think the Kung Fu bit is done.

Randy: Sorry, after the time I spent in Shangri-La, I am steeped in the traditions of Buddha. Is that Kung Fu guy a Buddhist?

Gary: Forget him, folks. He's lost in the latest offering from the golden kids at Presto Studios, Buried in Time 3: Legacy of Time. Once again, Presto delivers a winner with the newest installment in the Journeyman series.

Legacy of Time ships on 5 hybrid CD-ROM's and is playable on PowerPC's and Windows 95. However, it was completely developed using Macs, which is proudly noted in the documentation. We just had to mention that here as well.

In this installment, you revisit familiar characters, and have an intriguing mission. You must explore the lost cities of Atlantis, El Dorado, and, yes, Randy, the legendary Shangri-La. It is a wonderful premise for a game. I wanted to experience those cities so much, I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.

 

Randy: I agree. This game is an absolute must for adventure gamers. While we enjoyed the Journeyman Projects 1 & 2, Presto completely redesigned the clunky interface used in the two previous games. We found the game much more intuitive and immersive.

The elimination of the Biochip and external movement controls cleared away much of the clutter from the screen. In the earlier games, you had to keep clicking away from the main viewscreen to move, while you had to click directly in the viewscreen to handle objects and trigger hotspots. Now with the refined controls, you can actually pay attention to the beautiful artwork.

Gary: Artwork, which I might add, is in beautiful 360 degree VR panoramic splendor. The designers of Buried in Time 3 chose to utilize Infinite Picture's SmoothMove VR technology, a technology much like QuickTime VR, but even better in one important way.

QuickTime VR renders panoramas on a cylinder, meaning that, since the top and the bottom of the cylinder are open, one's ability to look up and down is severely limited. With SmoothMove, the panoramas are rendered onto a sphere, which means that you have full range motion, complete with the ability to look up and down.

Randy: And you need it in Legacy of Time, because you never know where you will find a clue. Make sure that you don't get tunnel vision and head straight for that door in the distance, because you will almost certainly miss a clue on the way.

Gary: Hmm, it is almost as if they planned it that way.

Randy: Before we move on, I have to comment on the beautiful use of QTVR in this game. While Legacy of Time is not the first game to utilize VR technology, it is the first game we played that used it well. VR nodes are linked together with smooth QuickTime animations instead of abrupt jump cuts. When you click a hotspot to step forward, the camera swings around real-time to align perfectly with the next animated transition sequence. As a developers ourselves, we know how hard it is to work with VR technologies when building a game. Cool effects, like a running waterfall in a VR panorama that keeps moving while the player spins around in the node, are stunning. Congratulations to Presto. This is the best implementation we have seen to date of QTVR.

Gary: The realtime special effects are brilliant. Lightning flashes continue while you look around, and when you look up at the sun, you can be blinded by the flare. And there are no crossfades in this game. Every step you take is a rendered QuickTime movie.

Randy: Also, there is a great new function for doubling playback of the QuickTime transitions. We found this very useful, and even fun, when we were traipsing back and forth through repetitive sequences.

Gary: Wow, you are wise. So are the designers of Legacy of Time. They wisely decided to lose the Biochip from the earlier games, and replace it with Arthur, your trusty sidekick. They even cleverly explain why Arthur wasn't with you before.

Arthur is your translator, your encyclopedia, and your guide through the worlds you explore. His almost constant comments can be a boon to novice gamers, but annoying to experts. Thankfully, you can control how much Arthur expounds on your surroundings. And the built-in help system he provides is a welcome change. No more having to quit out of a game, and hunt down a walkthrough on the web.

Randy: Arthur is a well-designed addition to the Buried in Time series. You can call on him when you need him, and shut him up when he annoys you. Arthur offers two types of input. When a cloud icon appears above Arthur's head he will give you historical information about your current surroundings. The detail of information was actually quite impressive. We found ourselves learning in spite of our efforts to goof-off. When you see a light bulb above Arthur's head, he will give you a clue to help you advance through the game. Presto prudently chose to allow Arthur to lead the player with very general hints at first. However, if you keep asking Arthur for help, his clues become more specific until finally he will simply tell you how to solve the current puzzle.

We have to confess to the readers, we used Arthur quite a bit towards the end of the game when we got stuck. However, like any hint guide the more you cheat the shorter the game play becomes, so experts gamers are forewarned to use Arthur's hints sparingly.

Gary: Yes, if you like adventure games you'll want to make this one last. The cinematics are very well done and the story is quite enjoyable, if not a little predictable. (Like its predecessor's plots, there's a lot of going back in time and saving mankind's keester.) The acting is a step above the last Journeyman game with good performances from the cast all around. For continuity's sake, a few actors were carried over from the last cast who gave rather stiff but mercifully short performances.

Randy: Okay. We really like it. I think they get the point. But there are a few things we would like to see improved for the next Journeyman game. Number one is better resolution on the artwork. While Legacy of Time is filled with beautiful ray-traced artwork, it is at a low resolution. There are jaggies in all the panoramas. In fact, the QuickTime transitions are noticably sharper than the panoramas. We found ourselves straining to make out what we were seeing at times due to the murky quality of some of the art.

Gary: My biggest complaint is something that is not the fault of Presto, but a limitation of today's technology. Throughout your adventures, you must talk to citizens of the time you are visiting. A character sees you and then greets you. You can then respond from a list of predefined options.

I find this to be limiting to the gameplay, even though Legacy of Time's approach is more polished than other incarnations. A nice touch in Legacy of Time is that the player can take on the visage of people he has met, so you get different responses from the characters, based on who you approach them as.

The company that comes up with a way to communicate with characters without prompts will have a runaway smash on their hands. C'mon, speech recognition!

You know, Randy, I am leaning toward a three stick rating.

Randy: And I was going to recommend a four stick rating.

Gary: Maybe we will have to finally break a stick.

Randy: I agree. Three and a half sticks it is.

Gary: Now we don't usually do this. In fact we have never done it, but I think we need to break a stick for this rating. Hold still. This may hurt a bit.

Randy: If not for the muddy artwork and relatively short game playtime, The Idiots would have given this one a full four stick rating.

Gary: Yes, three and a half sticks still makes Buried in Time 3: Legacy of Time a winner and a welcome addition for any adventure gamer's library.

 

Buried in Time 3: Legacy of Time gets Check it out!

Buried in Time 3: Legacy of Time
Presto Studios
MRP: $49.95
System Requirements:

Mac OS 7.5 or later; Mac OS 7.5.3 or later recommended
80 MHz Power PC or better
16 megs of RAM: 10 megs of free RAM
Minimum 70 megs of available HD space
4x CD-ROM drive
640x480 display at thousands of color

 

The Idiots use a four stick rating system to rank the games we play. Here's how it works:

= Lame = Sales Bin Only = Pretty Cool = Excellento!

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .


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