Oh No!!! Not another Combat!!!!
Shannara is a graphic adventure based on the Terry Brooks #1 best- selling novel "Sword of Shannara". It takes place in a world where magic, wit, and combat are essential to survival. It opens with a beautifully rendered gnome chanting with an arcane tome in hand. Suddenly the book glows and Brona, the dark wizard, rises. After morphing the poor gnome into several creatures, the game begins. You play Jak Ohmsford, a young boy who must find a way to overcome the ancestral hatred that divides the Four Lands.
You begin your quest at a stream and must solve a myriad of puzzles by using the available clues. Soon after you begin to travel, you come upon an old friend, an archer, Shella. The two of you venture into the unknown fighting hordes of unearthly beasts. You must find the Sword of Shannara and wield its powers against Brona to save your homeland. As you travel, you uncover the secrets of magic and gain powerful allies. These are your tools for survival and victory.
The books that this game is based upon are extremely well written and a treat to any fantasy reader. However, the game doesn't seem to match up. The opening scenes were exquisite. The comic-like characters were drawn very well. Even the monsters in the combat window were impressive. These days, most of us have had our share of graphic adventures, so we know what to look for when puzzle solving. Shannara works extremely well with the player; giving the clues and ingredients necessary to get through the game. You use a mouse for the entire game, and it was nice not having to switch back and forth between mouse and keyboard. Even the newcomer will fare well knowing that Shannara is simple and easy to control. The sound effects are good, the music is perfect, and character voices are phenomenal! The problem with the game is the interaction. Every time a character has something to say, no matter how unimportant, the screen changes to a comic-like face while they talk. If you try to cross a river that's too deep, the screen changes to a character making a dopey comment. Then you go back to the map; accidentally touch the river again and whammo... there's that same character with the same stupid line!
Another problem is the combat. I found myself wondering why they wasted the time to draw out decent-looking monsters for such a boring turn-based fight scene which is exactly the same thing every time with different enemies. Your party attacks. The enemies attack. Your party attacks. The enemies attack. Over and over with no thrilling changes. As for turn-based combat, I've had much more fun playing The Bard's Tale in the 80's. And the graphics in Shannara are ten times better! Finally, I was a little shocked that a game with combat didn't have any character stats or levels. It's hard to gauge how you'll do against six enemies without having a comparison point. You're given a green health bar for all your allies. But no matter how hurt you are, by the next battle, you're at full health with no chance of improvement. Kind of a big omission for this type of game.
All in all, I'd not suggest this game to the hard core Doom/Quake fan. Nor would I reccomend it to Roleplayers or Action fans. And if you loved games like Full Throttle or Space Quest, this isn't for you. It is, however, a good game for fans of the novel who have lots of patience and for younger/beginner graphic adventure fans. My suggestion to the rest of you is to pass this one up! You're not missing much!