Monday, June 20, 2005


Restricted Area - First Impressions

Got myself the latest Diablo-style action/RPG called Restricted Area. I've spent about 2 or 3 hours in it so far and I have a few words to say about it based on my first impressions. First of all, the game uses Starforce copy protection, which if you are not aware of yet, is a pretty insideous form of protection that blacklists certain applications, and if you have those installed on your PC it refuses to run. Certain backup software and virtual disc software will cause it to not work. But in my case it worked okay so I guess I can not complain.

The startup screen lets you change a bunch of options supposedly related to game settings. DO NOT CHANGE ANY OF THEM. I did my first install, and the game flat out didn't work right. I later read on usenet that not changing any options might work better, so I reinstalled and wala, the game works great if you don't touch the options. Kind of stupid to put them there so that unsuspecting players break the game before it even begins.

Graphically, Restricted Area is similar to the Fallout games, with a grungy dystopic future theme going for it. It's got a cyberpunk feel to it. The animations are a bit clunky looking but the starting town area looks pretty decent. Missions so far haven't been that great graphically, but I'm told it gets better so I'm holding out for that I guess. I think the developers must have a crate fetish, there are so damn many crates all over the place. Overall on a scale of 1 to 10 I might give R.A. a 6 or so on graphics. Certainly not the worst ever but nothing to write home about.

On the plus side, the gun sounds are cool, and so is the background music. The techno beat synthesiser music fits in perfectly with the mood and themes of this game. If you're a fan of bands like Prodigy or Chemical Brothers, you'll probably like the music here. Reminded me also of Blade Runner in some ways, as did the graphics in some cases. Voice acting on some of the NPCs is good and bad on others. I'd give sound maybe 8 out of 10 just based on what I've heard so far.

Gameplay is basically just like Diablo 2. I'm playing a gun-toting sociopath, code named "Solo". He specialises in automatic weapons. It's pretty fun to mow down mutants at range before they can ever close to melee. The important thing is finding cool cybernetitcs and installing them to boost your stats and skills. Gaining levels lets you assign skill points to the skill trees and/or also beef up your attributes/stats like strength or constitution, etc. One thing that is kind of weird is that your limit on what cybernetics you can have installed is based on the strength stat, so if you want to have a walking cyborg, you gotta pump up the strength. That makes me think that maybe a melee character might be an easier build.

I do not know if there is a multiplayer or not, I haven't tried it if it exists. I'll investigate that further. More details on this game later as I explore more. Overall now I'd rate this game maybe a 6 or so out of 10, just based on first impressions, but I might decide to change that assessment based on a more in depth look. Check out the Amazon page for some more impressions of other buyers.

Update: There is multiplayer but it's either LAN or direct-IP only, there is no internet matchmaking. I still have not tried it. I am not sure my old PC will run it. Maybe I can find someone who has the game and will try a direct-IP game with me.

Hi, I'm WT's CEO. I read your comments on our privacy policy. Some of it's legal nonsense the lawyers require. If you don't collect "personally identifiable information" how can you contact folks to tell them the privacy policy has changed? We have to make it clear that if we don't know who you are, it's your responsibility to check. Probably could be said better.

Our game engines can be used from any web page, and web pages can leave cookies and track all kinds of stuff so anybody using our tech must have their own privacy policy that covers what they track. The Web Driver also has the ability to report arbitrary data to us at a games request, such as a launch error code. That's useful for support, but if somebody else makes a Web Driver app and tells it to report your name and phone number, it will report it back to our databases (Not theirs). Our privacy policy is meant to protect you from that scenario by promising that we won't collect that data. It's techy so we just say that other people using our tech need to present their own privacy policy but WT will never violate OUR policy for the use of the tech.

Thanks for playing our games.
-Alex St. John
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