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Historion 2 - Babylons Fluch 
(Babylon's Curse)


Release date: 10/2003
Developer: Ruske & Pühretmaier
Publisher: Heureka-Klett

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Boxshots

Game language and manual German

 

USK: for all ages

Publisher's recommendation: 12 years and up

 

 

A review by slydos   6th January 2004

 

Heureka-Klett’s "Historion" has got a sequel with "Babylon’s Curse". One year after our 3D-realtime-hero Tom saved the world of the future in the past, we can accompany him on his new journeys in this 3rd-person point&click adventure.

Story

Sometime in the future the entire knowledge of mankind is stored in enormous data bases. Tom is technician of the department of time travels in Historion 3. In the last 3 months again inexplicable things happened and the central monitoring unit calls Tom for help. Apparently Tom couldn’t destroy the bad daemon but only stop him with the three stones during his first time travel mission. In the moment, when Tom used the stones at that time, the central monitoring unit received a data transfer, which was deleted immediately again including the protocols.

But the data could be restored and decoded and turned out as graphic patterns, not emanating from the Historion but rather resembling the Babylonic cuneiform writing. And when shortly after that the complete data of Babylon, Ephesos and Egypt were deleted, a connection to the daemon seemed ever more probable. Fortunately Tom has made a backup of these times, which could be reloaded by the central unit. This time Tom is transported to Babylon into the middle of the 5th century before Christ to trace the daemon and 3 more magical stones.

Installation/start

"Historion 2 - Babylon’s Curse" comes on 2 CDROMs as well as the manual in a sumptuous flap-box. The installation (the manual speaks of 600 MB while the box says 400 MB, and on my computer there were actually however 660 MB excl. savegames) runs automatically and smoothly and this time we also get a start icon in Windows. Once during the installation we must enter the attached copy protection code and also always leave CD2 in the drive with each program start. Practical during first installation is the system check showing the detected values. But once would have been enough, instead one has to click away this screen with each new game start, until one arrives - passing the logo-screens - in the main menu. The main menu assembles itself each time in a short, noisy animation, which I enjoyed on the spur of the moment. Here one can directly adjust some settings such as sound or graphics or just start a new game.

In the marvelous intro Tom approaches the gigantic Historion complex with his one-man airplane and lets again pass by some thoughts about his victory over the daemon (from the last game). His payment is poor, but at least he has time for his hobby: reprogramming discarded time transmitters to perhaps once be able to travel to the microcosm. He wonders why his boss, the general, and even his colleague Eric lately behave a bit strange and heads for the center burning for action and scintillating with energy. The cyborg lady there explains the unpleasant situation to him and sends him to a combat training with some robots first, before he starts on his mission. Here we can begin with the game.

Controls/handling

To the predominant part of "Historion 2" and our hero Tom are controlled by mouse. Some functions only work with key inputs, like accessing the main menu or the inventory. The cursor, a large gauntlet, indicates by changing its shape, whether we can interact with objects or persons or can leave the scene in a certain direction. If an "I" appears for information at a hotspot, then we can read context-sensitive learning elements with a click of the mouse.

Tom can be moved with a left-click, double clicking lets him run faster. He bypasses independently everything that stands in his way, also humans, who cross his way. Tom only twice got stuck at a door guardian during a scene change. In all other difficult cases he could always free himself automatically from a cramped situation.

One of the characteristics of "Historion 2" is (exactly like in the predecessor) that Tom is not always in the range of vision. When we enter a new scene the screen first scrolls along to show us the entire dimensions of the new location. With simple mouse movements we can gently scroll around, to get us an overview of the often large-scale scenarios, which are mostly presented in isometric plan view as in "Sanitarium". You can click - without seeing Tom - on one point and he will betake himself there from the off.

Dialogues run off automatically when clicking on a person. We cannot make any selection here. If we take an object, receive or trade it from another character, it is likewise stowed away automatically in the inventory - and we hear a noise each time, like a short angel choir. The inventory can be opened only by the „I"-key and it shows up in the lower display area. If we click on an object, we receive a describing text. Objects cannot be combined and one uses them by drag&drop. If we select the correct hotspot, the object is shown slightly magnified. The quantity of the inventory objects keeps within manageable limits.

Likewise the weapon inventory and the energy packs are only accessible by keyboard. Yes - we will get weapons during the course of the game and will have to fight. During a fight, which is simply done by mouse-clicks, we can lose life energy. With energy packs we can reload it - visible at the energy bar at the bottom. The handling that of energy packs and the other controls is explained in detail in the manual of "Historion 2".

This time in addition the fights with the monsters - usually arising in cellars and catacombs - are simpler, and there are always sufficient energy packs. If however Tom is overwhelmed by the monsters and has no more life energy, it’s time for a (very rare) Game Over. As soon as an opponent is dead - Heureka-Klett attaches very much importance to the fact that one cannot die in the game, but only disappears without any blood - he leaves a new energy pack, which Tom should take up as soon as possible. The action elements are easy to master and no untrained adventure gamer should be deterred. At the beginning, in the Historion, Tom can complete an optional combat training, which prepares him for later fights.

Also the trading window was simplified. It is automatically recognized, whether you select one of Tom’s objects or one of the merchant's and thereupon one only has to click on purchasing or selling to transact a trade. At the beginning Tom possesses a sum of Euros!, which he can exchange in Babylon against Schekel because of the concentration of precious metal.

The main menu is accessable with the ESC-key. Besides the save- and load-function we find the options for sound and graphics here. "Historion 2" has only 20 saveslots, where a text line can be stored in each case. The sequence of the indicated savegames is alphabetical. Since one can always see all savegames at the same time and does not have to scroll, the search for the last stored savegame is simple. There is a safety inquiry when overwriting savegames.

The knowledge part of the game can only be reached through the according hotspots, where one receives context sensitive information primarily. One can however freely select the chapters about all three places (Babylon, Ephesos, Egypt) and finds in each case sub-chapters with drawings/photos about country and people, art and architecture, economics and technology and religion and mythology. Even if still some functions, like inventory and weapons are accessible by keyboard only, the handling has strongly simplified opposite to its predecessor and is easy to learn. All functions are described in text and picture in the manual.

Graphics

The graphics, particularly the prerendered 2D-backgrounds, are again an eye candy and in some places almost overwhelming. As a result of the steplessly soft scrolling screens in the generous scenarios always a feeling of width and apparent three-dimensionality arises. The scrolling in all directions, particularly during the isometric views, enables the players, far more as with games in ego-perspective, to feel like master of the situation and keep the overview. In addition it helps to obtain an approximate impression of the size and the monumental structure of the buildings. The gamers have freedom to set their point of view best suiting.

Especially the busy roads of Babylon and the marvelous reconstruction of the buildings, like the tower of Babel, the Ishtar gate or the hanging gardens are impressive. But the monumentality of the still existing sphinx or pyramids could not be communicated, neither in the game nor in the knowlegde part, what however is completely normal, since I’ve never seen so far either films or photos, which could really outline these gigantic buildings. If Tom moves in the inner corridors of the pyramid, everything seems to be very roomy, which doesn’t correspond to the actual conditions neither at that time, nor today, because one can usually only stoop through the muggy, dark and close corridors, in which there is hardly oxygen for strongly blazing torches.

The scenarios are by no means dead. Many people run around on the roads or attend to their businesses, stop going lost in their thoughts or simply speak to our hero. With some of this 3D-realtime-characters Tom can interact. This time Tom’s unusual clothes, a kind of space travel combat suit is noticeable to several of his interlocutors, who react either fearfully, rejecting or curious. Tom and the other characters move in a very realistic way and seem still be improved if you look at "Historion 1".

Likewise improved the video sequences, in which our energetic hero emits his positive, sometimes winking charisma especially in some close-ups. One still misses lip movements and appropriate gesturing during the dialogues, but the insertions of the interlocutors in the dialogue window this time were substantially better adapted to the ingame graphics and even animated a bit. Unfortunately on the other hand the text legibility in the dialogue window worsened, which still does more pain rather than soothe with its color design.

Animations such as fire or water, are rare and also not particularly naturalistic to the otherwise realistic character animations. "Babylon’s Curse" and its predecessor belong to the few adventures (I can only remember "Casanova"), which create an animated city atmosphere with a large number of NPCs and don’t let the protagonist walk alone through quiet roads. This aspect is exemplarily converted together with the excellent background graphics and the varied points of view.

Language/sound/music

Music and sound effects are unobtrusive and rarely become conscious as such at all. The sound of footsteps correspond to the floor covering and move with Tom from left to the right or in reverse. Tom’s voice is expressive, suitable selected and converts the texts professional. The supporting actors and extras may here and there shout a bit squeaky, what however doesn’t militate by the small text quantity. As previously mentioned, the dialogues run automatically, if you click on a character. They can be canceled by mouse-click. Somewhat boring, that most interlocutors do not offer diffferent answers, if Tom turns to them a second or third time.

Puzzles

The puzzles in "Historion 2" are most of the kind very easy to easy and particularly suitable for complete genre-beginners or young players. It’s mostly about finding or exchanging certain objects. There is no large number of objects and they can’t be combined with one another. If you exchange something useless from a dealer, you can change it back. The difficulty of the easy inventory puzzles was increased by the search in the large scenarios. In the automatic dialogues we get hints about the puzzle solutions.

There are this time also some - not very difficult - mechanical and coding puzzles. The fights are simple too and can be completed by mouse. We can avoid them partly combatless, but that is seldom possible. Game Overs are possible, and this time not only in fights. But they are very rare, and increase supense rather than to frustrate.

Edutainment

The context-based information about the different places and epochs hold interesting topics, which are always devided into easily understandable, short sections.

For example information is given about the invention of beer, about gods and daemons, the right of asylum in the temple of Artemis and many more. Here and there we can find a hotspot without an information text behind it.

The different topics are inspiring in any case, so that you perhaps may want to fetch a book or travel guide to reread about it.

Technical

There were various sudden crashes leading back to Windows, so that constant saving is advisable. Otherwise the performance was smoother and faster compared to the predecessor, the loading times of the scenes were shorter and there was no jerking during the video scenes.

Result

"Historion 2 - Babylon’s Curse" can of course only scarify the historical surface and offer selected information about the wonders of the world and their time. But the game does it in an very entertaining, occasionally also exciting way. Great the reconstructions of the antique places and the living scenes. While this time somewhat more importance is attached to a more detailed story, the puzzles remain again relative easy, what allows more room for historical information. Approx. 12-14 hours "Babylon’s Curse" will keep you busy, which is more due to running around and the interspersed fights than to provocative puzzles. A game, which will interest for history with its wonderfully prepared scenes and also will be no problem for beginners. Noticeable improvements in handling and mitigation of the fights result in more rating points.

 

Total rating: 78%

 

Adventure-Archiv rating system:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommendable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommendable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)

 

Minimal system requirements:

  • Windows 98+/2000+
  • Pentium III 450 Mhz
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 400 MB free space on hard disk
  • 16x CDROM-drive
  • 16 bit sound card
  • OpenGL-3D-graphic card with 16 MB
  • DirectX 8.1b (on CD)

Played on:

  • Windows XP
  • P IV 1,6 GHz
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
  • nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
  • Sound card DirectX-compatible

Main menu
Main menu

 

Tom
Tom

 

Arrival at Babylon
Arrival at Babylon

 

The knowledge part
The knowledge part

 

The Ishtar-gate in Babylon
The Ishtar-gate in Babylon

 

Meeting the priest-king
Meeting the priest-king

 

One of the many merchants
One of the many merchants

 

The daemon chamber keeps one of the magical stones
The daemon chamber keeps one of the magical stones

 

Tom in the harem of the king
Tom in the harem of the king

 

Tom needs 3 stones, to  defeat the daemon
Tom needs 3 stones, to  defeat the daemon

 

The solution to the decoding-puzzle can be found in the knowledge part of the game
The solution to the decoding-puzzle can be found in the knowledge part of the game

 

The transmitter, not visible for the inhabitants
The transmitter, not visible for the inhabitants

 

The T-shirt, which this merchant wants to sell, wears the logo of the developers of this game
The T-shirt, which this merchant wants to sell, wears the logo of the developers of this game

 

We learn a lot about doric und ionic, male and female columns
We learn a lot about doric und ionic, male and female columns

 

The dialogue window appears at the bottom of the screen
The dialogue window appears at the bottom of the screen

 

One of the temples in front of the pyramids
One of the temples in front of the pyramids

 

Shady corridors
Shady corridors

 

"Pharao's eyes"
"Pharao's eyes"

 

Tomb chamber
Tomb chamber


Tom can even enter the inner Sphinx
Tom can even enter the inner Sphinx

 

The end of the daemon
The end of the daemon

 

The central monitoring unit is personified by this robot
The central monitoring unit is personified by this robot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 6th January 2004

 

 

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