Uru: Ages Beyond Myst review
Changes, Well, Change this Game From Previous Games

The good:

- The Graphics
- New Worlds
- Set in the Modern Day
- Sound
- The Feel of the Ages

The bad:

- Third Person Controls
- Graphics Requirements


When I first got Uru, I popped it into my computer and ran the installation. Very soon, I got an error because a file was missing on the cd. It wasn't until several years later that I actually got to play it. It was definitely worth it. This game is amazing. It has the most content in any Myst game ever. The puzzles are challenging as ever. And just like any Myst game, there are wondrous ages to explore and solve. However, this game is not like the other Myst games in several ways. This is the first Myst game to be rendered in real-time 3D. It is also the first and only Myst game that is in third person. Or at least can be. The first thing that stands out is the graphics. So that will be the first item.

Realtime 3D for the First Time
Uru has graphics like no previously released Myst game. The entire game is rendered in 3D. There are several advantages to this; the player can explore everywhere in an age. This is actually a pretty cool feeling. The game starts in a desert, so this is really obvious from the beginning. Which is a good thing. Realtime 3D also leads to some different types of puzzles. A few are based on time. But most puzzles of this type include things moving. The effect brings a much greater sense of realism to the game. Birds fly overhead as water ripples in the distance. The sun moves slowly across be sky until it is night. Machinery moves in the background as a fly follows you. The 3D effect is like nothing in a Myst game (except for the motion in the amazingly detailed Myst IV: Revelation). Yes, game is unlike any other Myst game seen before.

3D Drawbacks
However, the 3D does have it's share of problems, the main one being that your computer actually has to render the game. This can cause issues on older pcs. It will run at max settings at 1440x1200 no problem on a 4670. But that is a real card. It works at high no AA at about 25 fps on an internal ATI Radeon 200 series, but that is a pretty good internal card. It should run on other internal cards, but not at as high settings. And this does detract from the game's feel, with several effects turned off. What you should do if you have an old computer is buy a cheap graphics card, not more than US$35. That should have the game playing great on medium high settings.

Another issue with the realtime 3D is that you can go anywhere, and at large amounts of camera angles. Now, this is actually very good. You can see an age like never before. This can cause problems. You might be able to see through a wall into the vast expanse below, or not be able to situate the camera correctly. This only tarnishes it minorly, and the rewards of infinite camera angles are far superior to the problems.

Myst is Now in Third Person
The final large change to the game is the third person integration. This was an interesting idea from Cyan. An avatar is created at the very beginning of the game. This avatar is now stuck with you; you control it and it is you. The avatar allows things that couldn't be done in a Myst game ever before. You can run, you can jump, you can sit it a seat and look around as it descends. You can run through puddles of water and watch them splash. You can wade through shallow water. One or two puzzles involve moving stuff around. In fact, many puzzles integrate the realtime 3D and the avatar. Depending on your point of view, this could be good or bad. Third person and everything 3D it much different from other Myst games.

But rejoice, longtime fans! A first-person view was added late into the game's development because many people disliked the avatar. It isn't point and click like all previous installments. Instead, it takes full advantage of 3D and let's you move around freely. You can use he arrow keys or click and hold to move. The entire game won't be in first person, just a large section of it. Any action, such as linking or pushing a button switches to the third person view. So it's not the same as Riven, but much closer.

Its still Myst!
Enough of how it plays. The real question is how it stacks up to the other Myst games. Once you have overcome the controls, you will be right at home in Uru. For the most part, the puzzles feel like other Myst puzzles. A large part of the game is uncovering he story, which is a big story. The story revolves around Yeesha, he daughter of Atrus. She can write books that link to different ages like her father, but she manages to bend the rules. Without giving too much away, she does some things never before seen in a Myst game. Although this can be radically different from other Myst games, it feels right with the story.

The ages are everything that you would want from a Myst game. Everything works well with the story, and it seems natural when Cyan wants it to and hurt by humanity at other points. For he first time in a Myst game, there are ages that aren't islands. In fact, there is only one age that is distinctly an island, but the island is in the clouds. The ages feel different. Two of them have waterfronts, so it feels like they could be an island, but you never find out. It's nice knowing that there is more to the age than just the accessible areas, and I think it adds to the realism. The puzzles are seamless with the world. Everything is what you know and love about Myst games.

Quirks and changes set aside, this is a truly amazing Myst game. Although it doesn't offer everything, this is a great spin-off game that is easily worth playing. The expansion packs add even more content, but I'll review those later. This game gets a well deserved 9.6/10.

Graphics: 9.0/10
The worlds look great, but are short of some of the other games. If you get close enough, the textures become blurry and unrealistic.

Sound: 10/10
The sound is amazing. It goes with the world perfectly. Jack Wall's music is amazing, and adds to the feel of every age.

Controls: 6.5/10
The game's major problem is the third person controls. Although you can get used to it, it takes some time. I recommend first person.

Gameplay: 9.0/10
Uru has some great mind-bending gameplay, and I recommend it to anyone who is willing to think things through in games.

I would recommend this to almost anyone who likes adventure games and an overlying sense of mystery in games

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