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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: March 10, 1999
There are two completely different types of adventure games on the market today. One type, which I call action adventure, places emphasis on interacting with other entities to gain information and undertaking action with them to achieve your objectives. The second type, which I call puzzle adventure, has virtually no interaction with other entities and little action, and instead focuses on puzzle solving as a way of proceeding from place to place. LucasArts’ The Curse of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango are examples of the first kind of game, and Cyan’s MYST and Riven are examples of the second. Both kinds of entertainment are quite popular with the gaming public, but they appeal to two quite disparate audiences.
I am unabashedly a fan of the puzzle adventure, and so it was with great delight that I approached the Polish L.K. Avalon’s new offering Reah. Published by Project 2 Interactive and distributed in the United States by GT Interactive, this title stands virtually alone in being one of the very few completely foreign-produced entries in this genre. Reah is no little effort by any standards — it is at least as large as other puzzle adventures I have played — so it seems fair to compare it to the very best, which for me are Riven, SegaSoft’s Obsidian, and Piranha Interactive’s Morpheus.
Reah is the first game of any type that I have played in DVD-ROM format (it is also available on six CDs for those without DVD-ROM drives). As I will be writing about in an upcoming column, game developers have had trouble figuring out how to use this huge new storage format to its best advantage. But Reah seems perfectly suited for a DVD. Given that the artwork and animation in the game take up an astounding 20 gigabytes of space uncompressed, there only needs to be 50 percent compression to fit it on a DVD compared to 80 percent compression to fit it on six CDs, leading to significantly higher graphical quality. The DVD version also has faster access times and MPEG II layer 3 audio (with 44 kilohertz quality music). Because of the huge quantity of data to be stored, a double-sided DVD is necessary here rather than the standard single-sided disc.
Reah uses its very impressive homegrown V-Cruise engine for its 3D graphics, facilitating fast and smooth animation, freedom of exploration, and great visual beauty. You may look around a full 360 degrees seamlessly. Rather than projecting a flat image onto the inside surface of a cylinder like many games of this type, in Reah players feel as if they are inside a fully three-dimensional world. The game contains about nine thousand different objects consisting of over 10 million polygons illuminated with over 500 light sources. With 127,000 frames of 3D animation and video sequences, Reah is so much more immersive than an interactive slide show like MYST. Live actors are integrated into effective video sequences displayed full screen at 25 frames per second. The attention to detail revealed through the game engine really sets it apart from most others in the genre.
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