What a clichéd world we live in. Everything comes and goes in such a predictable way. Take music for instance.
One minute everyone's wearing flares and listening to those Happy Monday fellas, and the next thing you know, it's all bleeping techno music, B&O dust masks and Vicks vapo-rub (and you call that predictable? - Ed).
And what about computer games, eh? That is, after all, what we're hear to talk about. Trends come and go in this cosy little world as well.
There was, for instance, a time when Ultimate were the grooviest company on the planet and any game worth its salt was an isometric 3D arcade adventure. Unfortunately, people eventually cottoned on to the fact that all the Ultimate games were the same, but with different graphics. Bye bye Ultimate.
And then there are shoot-'em-ups. They never really went away, but I'm sure we're all familiar with the 'lone spaceship against several billion enemy craft and a big end-of-
Or how about the kidnapped girlie who sparked off a zillion beat-'em-ups? Or the ubiquitous cross country car race? Oh no! Total cynicism attack! Are there any new ideas left?
Probably not. And so we come to the very latest computer trend - the role-playing game. There are two distinct types. You've got the strategy-ish 3D version like Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, Elvira 2, Abandoned Places, Black Crypt, Knightmare et al.
And, well blow me down, just as the RPG bandwagon is picking up speed and all and sundry are leaping aboard, along comes the sequel to one of those original dungeon faves.
The trouble with the current overkill on RPGs is that there's very little imagination being used. Every single time, it's the same old story. Four adventurers battling it out deep in some dungeon or other, trying to vanquish some unpronounceable evil that's woken up with a bad attitude. It's nearly always the same story, it's always the same control method, and even the graphics look the same. It is, to be perfectly frank, getting a bit tedious.
However, each game is rather good, and that's the annoying thing. The same goes for Eye of the Beholder 2. It's chronically unoriginal, but it's also a splendid game in its own right. Let me explain...
EotB2 (as it shall be known hence forth to save my poor fingers) has all the RPG clichés you know and love. You select your characters, you name your characters, you fiddle with their attributes (ahem) and the you click on the direction arrows to move them around and on their weapons to attack. You cast spells, you find keys, you solve puzzles, and it's all very slick indeed.
The quest starts in a forest, and you must find your way to the Temple of Darkmoon and defeat the spookiness within. On your way to the temple you can hone you battle skills by beating up some wolves, and if you're lucky you'll find some hidden rooms with goodies in them.
Enter the temple, kill the religious nutters guarding the entrance and get adventuring. No surprises there really, although the forest section is quite a nice scene-
There's just not a lot you can say about EotB2 that hasn't already been said about any other RPG. Yes, it's got really good graphics and plenty of variety, from the forest to the swanky temple to the dingy dungeons, which add plenty of moodiness. The baddie sprites are well drawn, but not very well animated and they tend to lurch towards you. A pity, but not terribly important as the overall 'feel' of the graphics is very atmospheric and spook
The sound is good too, if a little sparse, and complements the mood generated by the graphics. The ominous "it's behind yoo-oo" footsteps are particularly worrying and they genuinely make you feel uneasy as you prowl the corridors under the temple.
Some grinding noises for doors and levers, and some grunts and moans for combat just about make up the rest of the FX, but they do their job in a vaguely inoffensive way.
The playability is the tricky bit. There are so many similar games around at the moment that you've really got to judge them against each other to find the best. And I've done that, and on reflection I think that EotB2 is probably the best RPG so far.
All the others are certainly worthy of Gamer Golds on their own merits, but while this one just does the same old things as the rest, it does them with a style and atmosphere that actually makes it an exciting game to play.
There are problems though, not least of which is the way that combat becomes very stilted with more than two baddies on-screen. Selecting spells and swapping members of the party takes up too much time and you often get beaten to death as a result. It's also a fairly linear game, at least as far as I can get. You solve the puzzle which reveals a key which opens a door that reveals a baddie who leaves behind another key when killed which opens a door that leads into another puzzle. That sort of thing. This means that while you get a good feeling a progress, you also start to wish for a bit more freedom to explore by yourself.
On balance, Eye of the Beholder 2 is the best RPG around. If you've already got an RPG then think twice about whether you want another just yet, but if you're still pondering over which one to buy then I'd recommend this one. Hardly original, but there's life in the old dog yet. Just.