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ICE continue their buy-'em-up policy and bring us the second instalment of the spooky D & D tale.

London Zoo isn't the only one to feel the current financial pinch. Publishers of AP1, Electronic Zoo, unfortunately went belly up late last year, but not before they finished the coding on the sequel. ICE bought up the rights, and here it is for your delectation.

It's all put together by the same team who did AP1, who incidentally most recently brought us Piracy. Continuing from the original, we are led to believe that "the world has moved on" - 400 years on in fact, and that the Pendugmalhe creator of the once evil (but now dead) Bronagh, has decided to take out his revenge on the world.

Now the world isn't too keen to be the recipient of said vengeance, and to cut a long story short, a select party is sent to confront the vengeful Pendugmalhe and to save all and sundry.

If you played AP1 - and who wouldn't after the sparkling review afforded it by Gamer? - you can transfer your saved characters, otherwise it's a scratch start.

After a beautiful animated intro, what we find is basically everything one could expect in a Dungeon Master clone, namely, dungeons, monsters, swords and spells. Dodgy control method apart, there really isn't a huge glitch at all.

The game is very large indeed and far from easy to finish, but products of this ilk are old, and they look it.

Finding your way around a too familiar maze and tackling monsters may be may people's aide of enjoyment, and quite right too, but the concept and novelty wore thin long before now. And although AP2 is a better-than-some representation of the genre, the fact that we are in 1993 means it finds itself, unfairly perhaps, in the Fanatics Only zone.

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Just when we thought the Dungeon Master genre was dead and buried, ICE raise it from the grave and bring it back to life with Abandoned Places 2.

The Dungeon Master concept was an enormous success because it brought fantasy exploration shockingly to life, by replacing the text-adventure which needed to be told how to operate. Not surprisingly, software houses have found it hard to expand upon this initial design. We've seen science fiction variants and many twists on the fantasy theme, the upshot of which is that it's becoming more and more difficult to approach the genre from a new angle. So, you may ask, what's so good about Abandoned Places 2?

Stakes through the art
Abandoned Places 2 is an attractive sequel, proving that when we whined about the original's questionable artwork (AF31 - 82 per cent), the Hungarian designers were listening. A massive arena of exploration is still at the core of the game's appeal, but the graphics have been updated to a standard which rivals Eye of the Beholder 1 and 2.

A competent intro sequence introduces the bizarre storyline: apparently an evil force known as Pendugmalhe is going all out for world domination, yet remains vulnerable so long as an ancient magical shield is intact.

The shield can be destroyed by a sword called Kuhalk; the problem is that both items are hidden, so surprisingly enough it's your job to find Kuhalk and keep it from falling into the wrong hands. After that, there's the simple chore of annihilating Pendugmalhe himself to round-off your adventure.

In fact, it would all be rather easy, if it wasn't for a veritable hoard of the living dead patrolling over 32 levels between you and your ultimate goal. If you've played the original, then Abandoned Places 2 should prove an ideal challenge form the word go.

Illusionary walls are everywhere in the first level, a classic dungeon setting, making the most efficient system of exploration a process of charging the party headlong into the stonework. Later levels vary incredibly, requiring you to trek through forests and many other types of terrain.

Accompanying you into the depths of Kuhalk's resting place are four characters, available for selection from a parade of 25 hardened adventurers. Strangely these hirelings only come in two flavours: fighters, the loadbearers who carry the group's belongings as well as cutting hostile denizens of the underworld into ribbons, and magic-users, who are the flame-throwers of the party, vital for the completion of certain puzzles and for healing the wounded after bloody combat.

Mighty sword of Dobber
It's a pity that Abandoned Places 2 has kept this rigid class structure which made the characters so limited in Eye of the Beholder, because the ability to learn others' skills through practice in Dungeon Master gave adventuring a lot more scope.

Nevertheless, playing with attributes and a broad selection of faces add variation to the otherwise mundane procedure of character generation with which any role-playing game must begin.

In the game itself, the two branches of your party can be conveniently called into play thanks to some friendly icons which are quick and easy to access. The backpacks of fighters are available when their faces are highlighted, but magic-users have a collective menu with which spells can be activated, so their support is always at hand should you want an enemy charcoal-grilled for tea.

Performing operations such as this during the game is very easy thanks to an accessible control panel. Everything which needs fast access can be operated quickly and my only real criticism of the control icons is that movement is awkward because the directional icons are far too small to use at speed. Movement is possible via the numeric keypad, but we haven't all got those nowadays, have we?

Deeper and deeper
Dungeon-delving in the first game was far from straightforward because of sub-quests and puzzles, which provided clues during each level. These proved a great occasional interlude from the main quest and they have been continued in Abandoned Places 2.

Above the 32 underworld regions of the game, there are wilderness areas to explore. A peculiar, but regular occurrence on the first level are the floor tiles that rapidly spin or teleport the party around, often when there are nasty pools of flame or stake-traps nearby.

The terrains have been nicely sculpted, from the dancing flames to the dragon motifs which appear frequently on the dungeon walls. On top of this accessible and interactive elements of the game, there has also been a dramatic sound enhancement form the original. Whispers and footsteps echo ominously around the dungeons. You can hear the enemy advancing through the darkness, although when the party comes to blows, the sounds of combat are an anticlimax.

More interesting sounds take a while to identify - the pleas for food from your own party often mislead you into someone has been attacked as they howl with hunger!

Live to tell
Overall, Abandoned Places 2 compares favourably with Eye of the Beholder 2, which was an outstanding sequel itself. It's a massive improvement on the first game and another huge adventure which promises days, and days of frantic exploration.

However, there is that awkward movement system for the mouse to handle, and another major disappointment is the inability to throw objects by dragging them to the viewing window.

But these are only tiny flaws in an otherwise excellent expansion of a worthy game. Other members of the Dungeon Master genre should beware: Abandoned Places 2 is fast approaching the top spot.

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Weihnachten '91 veröffentlichte Electronic Zoo den Vorgänger, kurz darauf ging der englische Hersteller pleite - dabei war der Rolli um die verlassenen Platze doch gar nicht sooo übel...

Der nun bei Ice erschienene zweite Streich eines ungarischen Programmierteams ist zwar auch nicht gerade ein Dungeon-Hammer, aber doch wieder ein grundsolide gemachtes Rollenspiel.

Die Neuerungen erschöpfen sich im wesentlichen in einer leicht verbesserten Grafik und der dreimal so größen Spielwelt mit 132 Dungeons, Wald, Städten, Schlössern und vielen, vielen Skeletten, Drachen, Eulen, Baren, Rittern. Dabei erinnern sowohl einige Gegner als auch die 3D-Gewelbe stark an die Genre-Klassiker "Eye of the Beholder" bzw. "Dungeon Master".

Das Echtzeit-Kampfsystem würde ebenfalls nahezu 1:1 vom "Beholder" übernommen, während man die kosmischen und nekromanischen Magie-Sorten bereits von "Wizardry 6" her kennt. Wenig originell, aber zumindest sehr dramatisch ist auch die Story:

400 Jahre nach dem Tod des von ihm geschaffenen "Prince of Evil" will sich der böse Pendugemalhe dafür an dem Fantasyreich Kalynthia rachen. Weil er damit reichlich spät dran ist, schickt man ihm ein vierköpfiges Bestrafungskommando entgegen, das die letzten Jahrhunderte in der Tiefkuhltrühe verbracht hat.

Der eigentliche spaß beginnt dann in einem Dungeon, wo die "ausgeschlafenen" Helden als erste Lockerungsübung einen Heiltrank fur ihren alten Meister aufstobern müssen.

Anschließend geht's durch die Wildnis in die städtische Zivilisation mit den obligaten Shops, die so wichtige Dinge wie Waffen und Nährung feilbieten. Man darf auch mit manchen Leuten im Multiple Choice-Verfahren reden, die übrigens erstaunlich gut Deutsch können.

Wenn es nur nach der Größe und Komplexität der Abenteuerwelt ginge, müßte Abandoned Places 2 weit oben am Siegertreppchen stehen - daß dem nicht so ist, liegt wenig am wenig innovativen Konzept und den vielen kleinen Macken des Games. So trifft man z.B. bei der Helden Erzeugung nicht nur 32 fixfertige Jungs und Mädels an, sondern auch fast denselben Character-Screen wie beim "Beholder".

Außerdem stören die haufige Diskwechselei, das fümmelige Zaubersystem und die ganz allgemein etwas umständliche Maus/Icon-Steuerung (vor allem bei den gnadenlos in Echtzeit ablaufenden Kämpfen).

Unverständlicherweise wurde beim ersten Teil noch vorhandene storniert, die zwei Karten in der dürftigen Anleitung sind da kaum ein Ersatz. Und die Präsentation? Nun, die Grafik kann zwar mit einem schonen Intro, teils recht hübsch gezeichneten Bildern und verschiedenfarbigen Wanden in den Dungeons aufwarten, bei den Animationen würde jedoch arg gespart. Ob man ein Monster verletzt hat, erfährt man z.B. nur durch die (grauenhaften) FX, und allzuoft ersetzen Texteinblendungen die grafische Darstellung.

Sei's drum, wer trotzdem zuschlagen will, sollte sich jedenfalls beeilen: Die ersten nach Deutschland ausgelieferten 7.000 Stück erhalten nämlich auch ein T-Shirt. (mm)

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First there were Abandoned Places, and now there are some more. Of them.

Quietly, carefully, Bill opened the door. IT was a door he'd never seen before and that was strange. It was, you see, a door in his own dining room.
Bill inched the door open and peered through. He saw a long stone passageway and, at its end, almost out of sight, glimpses of a broad green plain and a mysterious castle. It was a world of mystery and magic, of fantasy and adventure. Tentatively, Bill took that all-important first step - the step that would take him beyond the humdrum tedium of his own life and into the excitement of a new and alien life beyond the mysterious door...

That's why we play these role playing games, isn't it? We want, for a few hours at least, to escape from the ordinaries of our lives. We expect the games to last for ages, to be full of excitement and action, to tax us with tricky puzzles, to allow us to pretend to be magicians and warriors for a bit.

What we also expect is to be led into the game by our sweaty little hands and be given a little while to get our bearings. We'd quite like some idea of what's going on and of what we're supposed to do.

Abandoned Places 2 tries quite hard to meet our expectations. There's a map of the first level included in the instructions and there's a fairly comprehensive rundown of the spells and stuff in the game (although I didn't work out how my magicians would get more spells - maybe they can buy them later).

Ah, but then it stops being helpful. Little else is explained and you fumble about quite a lot. And you die quite often. When you start playing these things you expect to be killed quite frequently. No problem. When you write one of these things you expect to kill your players quite frequently at the beginning too and you make it easy for them to re-start. But not in Abandoned Places 2, apparently.

The box proudly announces that "the unsuccessful receive a special visitor" (it proudly announces this underneath a picture of the special visitor which rather spills the impact of the special visitation when it comes). The special visitor isn't in any way optional and requires a disk swap and a 30 second wait before he makes his rather tedious appearance.

You see, you begin the game by creating your adventuring party and, when you're killed, you can't just use them again - you have to start from scratch. You can, of course, use the default settings for your party, but since you can change them, there must be some point to it, musn't there? So getting killed means quite a bit of faffing about before you can get around to starting again.

You only have to do this a couple times before you decide that saving the game at the very beginning might be a jolly good idea. And it would be. It would be an exceptionally good idea if only restoring saved games didn't take so damned long. I eventually got so fed up with it that I was overcome by trainspotterness and timed the wretched thing. If you're clued-up and swap disks as soon as you're asked, it takes a total of seven disk swaps and a delay of 2 minutes 45 seconds to able to play again.

The unsuccessful receives a special visitor

Then there was the copy protection. The manual explains it carefully, but you read manuals before you play so you forget what they told you. Every once in a while the game asks you to enter a code from the manual. You can't use any of your magic until you've entered this and I cursed ICE and all their descendants in perpetuity because of it.

The game doesn't freeze and ask you for the code - it keeps playing. It doesn't care if you're in the middle of a fight - if you're not ready with the code you're dead. Tough luck, matey.

I wasn't impressed. Which is a shame. The graphics are well executed. The mouse-driven control system is as intuitive as these things ever get. The spells are easy to use. Combat is simple. The whole thing is pretty smooth and, once it's running, jogs along at quite a respectable pace. The actual playing window is fairly sizable and most of the things that make you feel good about RPGs are in there.

I was disappointed by the lack of auto-mapping. I thought we were going to be able to take that for granted by now, but apparently not. That's definitely something RPG designers should be including as standard.

The whole thing, in fact, has the potential to be pretty good. It's not by any means the most original idea for an adventure but it's good looking and claims to be huge. By rights it ought to be a fun game. Somehow, though, the ordinariness of it all is a bit of a letdown. There really isn't anything very much to get you going.

In the end, RPG's are what you make them. You have to put in a bit of work of your own to suspend your disbelief and involve yourself in the game world. But the designers have to help you. They have to write a world that you want to get involved in and when you're continually exposed to the mechanics of the disk-swapping you're brought back into the real world with a bump.

Admittedly it's hard-drive-installable but there are only four disks so it shouldn't., if it were constructed properly, be difficult to play it from floppies. I wanted to like Abandoned Places 2, but in the end I thought it wasn't much more than average and it left me a little disappointed.


This game may be the epitome of absolute normalness, but hey- you've got thirty-two characters to choose from. There's men and women, young and old, warriors and wizards, and each and every one are linked by one fact. They've all got seriously dumb names.

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A long long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... oh no, hold on, that's something else. Umm, this is the intro sequence, everybody, where no-faced men hold books above their heads and, and, er other things happen.

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Abandoned Places 2 logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Tony Gill likes creeping around in the dark, mixing with all manner of social misfits - which makes him the ideal person to take a look at Ice's latest RPG stormer.

Abandoned Places could have been a great success, but the collapse of its distributor, Electronic Zoo, meant that many players never got their hands on it. Fortunately for RPG fans every- the sequel has just been released by ICE and looks set to be the smash that its big brother never managed to be.

Originality certainly isn't this game's strong point. If you're familiar with the likes of Eye of the Beholder or Black Crypt you'll feel quite at home in its dank passageways. The gameplay is almost identical to others of this ilk. Four hundred years after the events that formed the original game, you are once again called upon to save the kingdom of Kalynthia from impending doom, by killing Pendugmalhe, the creator of the evil Bronagh.

All of the main ingredients of an RPG have been incorporated into this game. From a list of 32 heroes you select a team of four aspiring champions to battle your way through 35 levels of monsters and puzzles. Fighters, Wizards and Clerics stand ready to take up the armour and weaponry strewn throughout the game.

There are some atmospheric snatches of music, plus some interesting sound effects. However, there are one or two instances where could have done without some of them. One sound that you'll have to learn to love is the mad clip clopping of your heart. This incessant tap-dance reaches a crescendo whenever there are monsters nearby - some kind of Middle Earth radar, suppose. After a while I found it a little too intrusive and found myself reaching for the volume knob.

The game has many alternative movement controls, but some of them appear to be a little on the sluggish side. Let's face it, when you have a demon treading close behind, you want to be absolutely sure that you're going to move when you press that key!

Another problem with the controls is that they can be a little confusing - for example, you have to press the right mouse button to operate a hand weapon, but you need the left button for a magic spell. In the heat of battle that little touch can cost you a thick lip!

Most RPGs tend to confine themselves to dark dungeons where you can suspend your disbelief more easily. However, Abandoned Places 2 requires you to leave your dungeon and travel overland through field and forest before you once again plunge into the gloom. During your sojourn in the open air you will be molested by bears and trolls that are just as vicious as anything you will find underground, so don't think things get any easier in the sunshine.

As your heroes progress, their experience points mount up until they are automatically elevated to the next rank of warrior or mage. New spells magically appear for both your wizards and your clerics, while your weapon handlers start hitting things with more effect.

Don't be fooled into thinking that the early levels of this game will break you in gently. There are a few places at the beginning of the game- where you can step on an invisible pressure pad and find that you have just released an army of skeletons that position themselves between you and the exit. However, for those of you who like the easy life, this is made up for by the fact that, unlike many RPGs, disk swapping is kept to a minimum.

From the very start you know that you are in for a treat with this game. Apart from some awkward controls, everything else appears to be top-line. The half-brite graphics are first-class and the monsters have been drawn to really look three dimensional.

There are few concessions in Abandoned Places 2- the writers have taken it for granted that you have been here before and that you're ready to plunge into the maelstrom from the moment the starting whistle is blown. Things start tough and then they get even tougher.

The whole point of this game is to build on what we have seen before instead of simply playing the same old game again but with different graphics. When I found I was cursing myself for making the wrong decision during combat because of the panic, I realised that there must be some thing worth playing here.


Role-Players have evolved many different monster-bashing techniques for games such as this, and perhaps the most successful strategy is the Purple Worm Two-Step.
This folk dance was developed in the lower levels of Dungeon Master, and was used to dispatch the ravenous worms which made mincemeat out of apprentice heroes. First you should find a large open area where you are in no danger of getting yourself boxed in and then get the monster to follow you while you hit and move.
As the monster moves into position facing you, it will pause for a moment. Quickly move sideways and then turn to face the square that you have just left. The monster will follow you into that square and for a moment will be facing sideways on you.
Hit the beast as it pauses to turn and face you. Again move sideways and turn. If you keep your cool and maintain this rhythm you will be able to batter the beast with impunity. This technique must be used in Abandoned Places 2 if you want to survive the terrors of the hallways.


There have been a number of fast-action role-playing games on the Amiga. Dungeon Master, Chaos Strikes Back, Bloodwych, Eye of the Beholder Iand II, Captive, Black Crypt and Knightmare were all very succesfull. Therse games took monster trashing away from the sedate world of dice rolls and added real-time combat. There is no time in these games to formulate a battle plan; combat begins the instant a claw rakes your front rank. Real-time action has done for role-playing games what the likes of Monkey Island did for text adventures. Both formats have been dragged onto centre stage where the mainstream player has picked them up and carried them to the number one spot on the software charts.

Instead of presenting this intrusion into their private world, role-players should welcome the enthusiasm and effort which now goes into producing even more exciting games and acknowledges the magic and fun to be had in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction.