Geneforge 3 (PC)

By Sean Lesley

Published on Sunday, September 25, 2005

Graphics: 7.00
Sound: 5.00
Gameplay: 9.00
Replays: 9.00

When I was assigned this game, I had high hopes. I had played a demo of the second Geneforge a year or so ago, and I was impressed by it, translating into high hopes for the third entry in the series. I was not disappointed.

The game revolves around conflict between the Shapers, a reigning elite of magicians, and the Rebels, who oppose the Shapers’ stranglehold on the world, though to what purpose is unknown. The player is thrust into the conflict suddenly as the school he resides in is attacked by the Rebels. From there, you are left alone to make your path. However, the two factions will not leave you be, but why they care so much about an obviously insignificant pawn is not revealed until later. And so, you try to make your way in a world where you are feared by the common folk, and your actions determine which cause will aid you, the remnants of the Shapers or the Rebels.

Gameplay is reminiscent of many computer RPGs. Third-person perspective, looking down from above. Click to move and attack. Yadda yadda. Of course, there’s a reason this setup is used in many games: it works. So, it’s easy to adapt to the game.

You are given your choice between three “classes” at the beginning of the game: Shaper, Guardian, and Agent. Shapers are the worker of magic and summoners of beasts (including fire-breathing velociraptors, which is one of the higher points of the game). Guardians, well, guard the Shapers with their skill at arms. Agent walk through the world in secret, their silver tongue and sneaky tricks keeping them from discovery. All in all, we have the three standard archetypes: mage, fighter, and thief. Shapers also double as cleric with their healing and buffing spells.

The game itself ranges from horrible balance to perfect balance. The first dungeon involves mostly killing abnormally large worms and muskrats (at least, they look like muskrats), ending with combat against a large, stone man. While it’s certainly possible to die, survival is mostly assured. This trend continues for the next few areas, until you come across one swarming with patrols of said stone men and fire-breathing velociraptors. Of course, that may be the game saying “stay away from here until you have x more levels”, it’s badly marked. I found myself dying more than a few times before trying a different direction.

One small complaint is that the houses don’t really look like houses, filled they are with long hallways, but it doesn’t affect the gameplay as much as it make suspending disbelief difficult.

Geneforge 3’s graphics aren’t up to par with newer games, but they don’t make everything difficult to see, either. You can say with certainty what most everything is. “Hey, that’s a woman!” “Hey, that’s a red velicoraptor!” And so on. The music is extremely minimal, mostly related to sound effects and the like, so listening to something else while playing doesn’t take anything away from the game.

As far as replaying it goes, there are six general paths one can take. The three different classes, and as the game progresses you can choose to throw your lot in with the Shapers or the Rebels, which alters the experience (who’ll talk to you, what areas you pass through, etc.). Also, one can focus on entirely different magical disciplines, further adding to the options.

And, of course, Geneforge would not be Geneforge without the giant, fire-breathing velociraptors. And number 3 delivers.

Overall Rating: 8.00

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