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PC Preview - 'Syberia II'

by ToAstA on March 16, 2004 @ 2:30 a.m. PST

Syberia II will be the second and final installment of Kate Walker's joint adventures with Hans Voralberg. After leaving behind all her worldly possessions with the sole purpose in joining the heir of the Voralberg family on his journey, Kate's role will undergo a remarkable change. From being the pursuant, she becomes Hans' main acolyte, his support to attain the elapsed terra firma of the mammoths. We got the chance to play a near final build, so read more for our preview ..

Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Microids
Release Date: March 24, 2004

Pre-order 'SYBERIA 2': PC

Players will once again step into the role of Kate Walker, a woman leaving a mundane job from New York, choosing instead to follow her friend, Hans Voralberg, on an adventure of grand proportions. This adventure began in the first Syberia game, when Hans began his quest for his life-long dream: to find the mythical land of Syberia. Anyone who has played the original knew there would be a second game after the ending of the first and, well, here it is (almost!).

The first order of business requires Kate Walker to wind-up the train so she, Hans and his robot creation, Oscar, can continue on down the tracks towards their snowy and cold destination. Much like the puzzles in Syberia, Kate will not be able to quickly wind-up their train and hit the road. When visiting Oscar and asking about winding-up the train, you'll find a few things that need to be done first. Those few things quickly turn into a whole lot of new problems, giving the player an excuse to scope out and explore the first area of the game. The multi-tiered puzzles maybe common but work very well in this style of game. You'll notice most of the puzzles early on in the game are key/item retrieval in order to complete Kate's tasks. This isn't a bad thing or me complaining, just pointing out that things do pick up in interest and difficulty later on.

One of the first things you'll notice in Syberia 2 is the, once again, gorgeous graphics. Beautifully rendered backgrounds clearly show the attention to detail that has been carried over from Syberia. I spent my share of moments watching the snow gently fall around me and twirl about in the air. One small complaint I do have concerns the character models. Animations are fine and fit perfectly for all characters, but I feel as though the lack of detail on the models contrasts with the great detail of the backgrounds. Maybe the models of Silent Hill 3 and the Resident Evil remakes have spoiled me, but I feel as though a higher polygon count and more detailed texturing would have really helped the graphics in Syberia 2. I also know this is an adventure game but, like the survival horror games, it never has too many models on screen. Like I said, this isn't anything major just a personal gripe, and maybe this has already been addressed since our preview build.

The overall graphical presentation just looks better than Syberia, which is saying quite a bit! When Kate is talking to the NPCS they show more movement in expressing themselves, as well as more idle animations when not in conversation with Kate. Smaller details like the way a stream moves about or how the light will realistically cast Kate's shadow on the wall behind her really come into play when you're exploring. The game's textures also seem to be a bit brighter overall from the initial Syberia title, while still maintaining an underlying feeling of sadness and bitter cold. This is a desolate Russian town after all.

The meat and potatoes of any adventure game is in the clicking the screen for clues, collecting items and solving puzzles with said items. Another big part is, of course, talking to other characters to gather information and clues of what to do next. Dialogue appears in the branch-style as it did in Syberia where choosing a question will bring new questions to ask and so on. In Syberia 2 Kate's journal has the option of a dialogue archive that didn't seem to work in the beta copy I played, but should really be helpful when the full game hits everyone's PC. This is a very welcome feature and I'm glad it'll be in the full version to help refresh my memory at times of what people have told me before.

Syberia 2's musical score is amazing to say the least. Dramatic and somber strings will tear at your soul as you explore the snowy world of Syberia 2. Character sound effects are also very well done, from footsteps to the sound of running water and the wind swirling around you. Unfortunately, the voice acting is not quite up to the level of the game's music and sound effects are. The actors aren't the problem per say, I feel it's the accents that seem somewhat forced. Maybe it's a lack of emotion at times too, but Kate seems to drone out some of her lines while one of the Ivan brothers sounds like he has a Cockney accent rather than a Russian one. Some grammar problems also rear their ugly heads but that's to be expected when a game is translated to English and is forgivable when such errors are few and far between.

Overall I think Syberia 2 is an amazing game and I'm glad it's about to released. The PC market has been lacking good adventure games for a long time now (I'll go out on a limb and say probably since the first Syberia title) and it's about time one emerges. Adventure game fans are in for a real treat as they search for the land of Syberia with Kate and the excellent cast of characters behind her. The game's difficulty seemed just right, never getting too hard but never so easy that I could just fly through without putting some thought into what I had to do next. Keep your eyes out for Syberia 2 to hit the stores since it has been announced gold!

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