Ishar 2: Messengers Of Doom (AGA)

Title           Ishar 2: Messengers Of Doom (AGA)
Game Type       RPG
Company		Silmarils
Players         1
Compatibility   AGA
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Cathy Macdonald Profiled Reviewer

The sequel to "Ishar: Legend Of the Fortress" (see separate review) this
game takes up the story long after the destruction of Krogh, by Aramir and
his companions - including Krogh's own mother, the witch Morgula! (I doubt
they would have done it without her.) The former Fortress of Ishar became
the new growth epicentre for the Aborean archipelago - The Isle of Kendoria
and diverse islands named after Jarel's companions. Chief is Zach Island,
which has a developed city as a result of immigration. Taking advantage of
this, yet another evil lord arose - Shandar. His illicit dealings in
hallucinogenics gave his son fame and fortune, whilst he, having gained cult
status among many, seeks to regain the Ishar throne. Zubaran, Ishar's
current Ruler, hears of this. So, naturally, Shandar must be found and
destroyed. This is the ultimate object of the game.

The Silmarils' standard of graphics and gameplay is sustained, and in
parts improved upon, in this evolved creation of a larger and more
involved fantasy world. Each island (except Kendoria itself, which is
simply narrative backdrop in this sequel) has its own landscape, climate,
inhabitants and developmental stage: from snowy mountain wastes inhabited
by monsters and weirdos, through rainforests inhabited by wild creatures
and some gentler folk, to the temperate and very cosmopolitan city
inhabited by - well all sorts. Additions to this game include the
introduction of topography, with the illusion of ascending/descending
gradients in the mountains, and the reintroduction, from "Crystals Of
Arborea" (see separate review) of the changing light between night and
day. Both work well in adding a greater sense of realism, as do enhanced
sound effects. There is a greater variety of characters/creatures -
including suspiciously-familiar "Ewok" and "Jawa" types ("Star Wars"
influence here?).  Everything is, again, nicely drawn, but the animation
remains "static": I feel that animated brushes could be used more
imaginatively, especially given the detail put into character and
background design. The clever interface has been improved upon in that a)
the combat icons are now separate from the access panels, thus preventing
the miss-hits during fast combat in its predecessor, and b)
weapons-in-hand are immediately visible; no more clicking into sub-panels
to find out.  Positive changes giving enhanced functionality.

You are Zubaran.  You start out alone, broke etc., but you have the option
of using your team from "Ishar 1" (wimp!). There is trouble almost
immediately to hand, but best avoided at this juncture to head straight to
the village.  Village?  How could Zubi know?  Ah ha! There is a map in
this game which, unlike its predecessor, actually shows your position,
plus (rather vague) indications of places to go/avoid. You possess one
piece of parchment at the start - the others must be found as a part of
the, almost Byzantine, sub-quests. (Enough said there, I reckon.) Jarel`s
fellow heroes, from the "Arborea" quest, are not present this time - being
(presumably) long dead - but there is still a variety of characters with
which to interact towards various purposes (besides killing them!). Many
are vital, as this sequel does rely more heavily on precursive tasks, and,
unfortunately in this way, does tend towards the linear - but, not in an
obvious, precognitive, or boring, way.  Got your head around that?  Good.
It is not predictable.  It is involved.  And, to make this involvement
somewhat easier, the payment-for-saves has been abandoned by Silmarils,
whilst saves-according-to-your-storage-space continues. Furthermore, no
more instability with respect to game length occurs. However, on Thorm
island there is a crash point, which seems to be associated with time of
day. I found that the only way to pass it is during daylight. There must
be a better way of detering night-time passage than by crashing the game,
Silmarils!  Unfortunately, the "Non-AGA" AGA persists (i.e. I needed a
"KillAGA" script for A1200). One has to suspect an ad-hoc/rush job on the
(so-called) AGA versions. (Mind you, the pre-AGA "Ishar" versions would
not run at all on A1200. So it's a bonus?  No!).

So, how was it to play?  Certainly more involved and challenging than its
prequel - not least because 1 or 2 tasks were, apparently, illogical: Such
required the old Sherlock Holmes' approach "...that which remains, however
improbable...".  Personally, I feel that the way to make a game more
challenging is not by pushing solutions beyond even lateral thinking;
things have to make at least a modicom of sense. OK, I'm the naturally
artistic type [right cerebrum and all that, and, thus, supposedly, unable
to be "logical"] but, come on, Silmarils, we all need to make a connection
between cause and effect, however contrived.)  Oh, here's an added
interesting twist; you can (apparently, though, it's probably a fit up)
get away with robbing a bank, but get arrested for entering a certain
nightclub (at least once, at the wrong time - but, Ah, ha! it has its
reward). And some things can only be done at certain times.  Hey, you
thought you were tearing your hair out with "Ishar 1"?!  Enjoy!

Overall? Quite a romp! Escapist adventure, or what?! Less
uneventful/aimless wandering than either predecessor ("Arborea" and
"Ishar 1". Pay attention).  But you need an eagle-eye to pick up on some
things, even from the start, e.g. dandelions needed for a potion, to get
information from a certain creature on some island (of how much
importance?  For you to find out!)  Difficulty level?  Not novice, you
need a bit of experience.  Not as dull/predictable/frustrating/
unimaginative as one or two other (non-Silmarils) RPGs I could mention.
Have fun!

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