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Eye of the Beholder
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Eye of the Beholder II
Eye of the Beholder III
Eye of the Beholder (GBA)
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Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon - IBM-PC, Amiga, PC-98, FM-TOWNS (1991)


Amiga Cover


Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)

Picking up where the first game left off, the story begins with your group of adventurers resting at an inn in Waterdeep after their underground adventures, when they are contacted by an Archmage who wishes them to investigate strange happenings in a temple called Darkmoon. The Archmage transports the heroes to the temple, and the new adventure begins. Just as in the first game, you are then given the option to build your own characters or import the characters you created in the first Eye of the Beholder. If you choose to import a party, they will retain their skills and most of their armor. This makes the game much easier, as imported characters should already have excellent equipment and spells very early on.

As you progress through Darkmoon Temple, you find that the institution is a cover up for the evil wizard Dran Draggorn. It seems he is amassing an army of undead, and plans to take over Waterdeep. Upon confronting the vile sorcerer, you discover that he was also behind the events of the first game, having struck a deal with the Beholder Xanathar.

Right away it's easy to see that not much has changed from the first game to the second. The game still looks very much the same, and combat remains as it was, as well. The most notable change, however, is the level design and overall complexity of the various floors. The size of each floor was cut down significantly, resulting in more straight forward exploration and less convoluted level design. Although the game still retains some tiles that would teleport your party or spin them to throw off your sense of direction, their amount was drastically reduced, resulting in a more streamlined and enjoyable experience. Characters also comment on the possibility of secret doors being nearby, which helps to keep things from becoming too frustrating.

It also becomes apparent that the roleplaying aspects found in the game seemed to be more of a focus compared to those in the first. You're given more dialogue options while interacting with the few NPCs included in the game, but ultimately your choices usually result in the same outcome. More puzzles and riddles were also included, but they seem to serve as nothing more than a way to extend the game's length as you often find yourself having to backtrack to pick up an item that you just so happen to need to unlock a door. This comes off as a bit frustrating, but thanks to the smaller levels, backtracking isn't that much of a pain.

Overall, Eye of the Beholder II feels much more fleshed out and streamlined than its predecessor. While the combat and roleplaying aspects still remain fairly shallow, the level design makes it much more enjoyable to explore.

Like its predecessor, Eye of the Beholder II did receive ports for the Amiga and Japanese computers; though it was never brought to any consoles. The differences are once again marginal, aside from the Amiga's fewer colors.


Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)

Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)

Eye of the Beholder II (IBM-PC)

Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor - IBM-PC, PC-98 (1993)


IBM-PC Cover


Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)

Like the second game, Eye of the Beholder III continues the story of your well fought adventurers. Resting in an inn, again, sometime after the events of the previous game, our heroes are approached by a mysterious man (Ed.: I'm sensing a pattern here...) asking them to help liberate the city of Myth Drannor from an evil lich who has taken control of the area. True to form, our heroes accept and are immediately teleported away and soon find themselves in the middle of a spirit infested graveyard.

Although Eye of the Beholder III remains unchanged at first sight, there were some changes from its predecessors, most notably being the absence of Westwood Studios as the developers (who went on to create the Lands of Lore series). Instead SSI developed the game in-house using a new game engine, SSI's very own AESOP/16 engine (also used for the SSI game Dungeon Hack). While the game did bolster larger environments to explore and impressive looking enemies, it was hampered by the performance of AESOP/16. Not only did the game have high hardware requirements, but it would skip and stutter along choppily due to poor memory management. This is immediately off putting, as the slow-down during battles causes the game to drag along where the previous two games played very quickly.

Even when setting the performance issues aside, Eye of the Beholder III still falls short of the success garnered by its predecessors. While it is very much the same game, the level design was expanded and enemy difficulty was ramped up. The larger levels bring back the same headaches found in the first game. More often than not you'll find yourself aimlessly wandering around searching for a small switch on a wall or a hidden door just to progress in the game. Factoring in the unbalanced difficulty of the enemies, who can now kill your characters in just a few hits, you’re left with an experience that just isn't enjoyable.

While the concept of tougher enemies and a larger game world to explore may look good on paper, SSI went about implementing it in the completely wrong way. There are even instances where you can get yourself in un-winnable situations, as certain areas in the game require you to have specific characters with specific spells and no way to backtrack to fix this. All of these design decisions result in a game that feels like a chore to play.

Overall, Eye of the Beholder III remains merely a shadow of its predecessors. The maze-like maps, unbalanced difficulty, and lag issues all overshadow any potential the game has. While it seems as though SSI did intend to end the series here (there is no save data created for importing characters at the end of this game), with the poor reception it received upon release, making any more sequels wouldn't have been wise, anyway. Instead it stands as a depressing low end to a trilogy that started off great.


Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)


Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)

Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)

Eye of the Beholder III (IBM-PC)

Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder - Game Boy Advance (2002)


Cover


Eye of the Beholder (GBA)


Eye of the Beholder (GBA)

A remake of the first Eye of the Beholder, the Game Boy Advance game sticks fairly close to the story surrounding Xanathar and his plans to invade Waterdeep. That, however, is where the similarities end. Although the game still plays out in a first person perspective during exploration, battles couldn't play out any more differently. In the original games, combat was seamless while exploring the various dungeons and temples found throughout the games. Instead, battles now take place in an isometric perspective. You still encounter enemies in the dungeons the same way; you see them from your first person perspective and approach them to cue a fight. But after that you're now taken to an isometric view of the dungeon itself, heroes and enemies being represented by miniature sprites (a change reflected in the table top game as the use of miniatures has since become more widespread and suggested by the literature). Despite SSI's absence, the new battle system is reminiscent to many of their older games from the Goldbox series.

The change in combat does help to make things more strategic when planning out your attacks, though it ultimately slows down the flow of the game and ends up being fairly frustrating to control. Just as in the pen-and-paper version of Dungeons & Dragons, you now have to take into account limited character movement per turn as well as opportunity attacks (free attacks granted if someone tries to use ranged attacks next to an opponent, or moves multiple spaces around an opponent within striking distance). Though the idea seems good in theory, when playing through a combat encounter you'll quickly find that it's very difficult to maneuver characters around each other in the small corridors of the dungeon. This usually leads to two melee characters stuck up front, while others simply have to wait behind them unless they have some sort of ranged attack.

One aspect from the previous games now expanded upon is the inclusion of more roleplaying elements. Before, interacting with NPCs never got beyond two or three choices for you to pick, which usually resulted in the same events. Now characters have different skills to level up, such as Bluff and Intimidate, which you can use when interacting. Though these don't play that huge a role, depending on your skill level you can recruit some characters who usually wouldn't join you, or even avoid battles at times.

The characters and customization in the game have also been enhanced. Some enemies now have dialogue before battles begin, and you're also able to pick different skills even classes when creating and leveling up your characters. Though this is a very minor addition, it is a nice touch to help develop the game and characters within it. Unfortunately, many of the skills that you're able to choose from are rarely ever used and never truly add anything to the game.

In the end, however, it still falls far short of the original. The new battle system slows the game down and the controls are very cumbersome. Where it used to be easy to navigate through character inventories, equip weapons and armor, and assign spells; it is now nothing short of frustrating. The game also fails to deliver graphically. Compared to other GameBoy Advance games, the enemy sprites, character portraits, and environments all look rather poor. The sound quality is another fault. Granted the original games weren't known for having excellent music, or any at all outside of the console ports, they did have a very atmospheric feel to them when it came to audio. Here the sound is nothing more than various canned sound clips that play at seemingly random moments. It comes off as an afterthought, and ends up seeming cheesy rather than atmospheric.

Though this remake does add some interesting and welcomed additions that weren't present in the original Eye of the Beholder, it fails to live up to the original games.


Eye of the Beholder (GBA)


Eye of the Beholder (GBA)


Eye of the Beholder (GBA)


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<<< Prior Page    

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Page 1:
Intro
Eye of the Beholder
Page 2:
Eye of the Beholder II
Eye of the Beholder III
Eye of the Beholder (GBA)
Back to the Index