Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey Review

Developer: Vir2L Studios Publisher: Nokia
Release Date: November 23, 2004 Also On: None

Some games are just not meant for the small screen. Massive role-playing games, with open worlds such as Elder Scrolls, are one example. Bethesda’s PC series (Morrowind also appeared on Xbox) now comes to the Nokia N-Gage, which set itself as the first 3D-capable portable platform back in October 2003. Unfortunately, the N-Gage’s limited 3D graphics engine can not endure the pressure that a game like Morrowind puts on it. The game mimics its PC father, but falls way short of replicating it.

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Shadowkey is like no other N-Gage game. It offers a massively open-ended world to explore. This, also being its greatest weakness, is hampered by an annoyingly slow frame rate, choppy gameplay, limited view, and an over world map that proves entirely useless. Instead of leaving you with an open experience, you’ll find yourself tracking and backtracking down dirt paths, as wondering off will lead you to utter confusion as to where you are located, and how to get to your destination. How can you seize the destiny of your character if you can’t even get your directions right?

While I have major reservations with what I outlined above, I must give the developers my satisfaction with the character selection. You are given a choice of a character class, be it a thief or something also, along with a race. This affects your overall player statistics and character model appearance.

As I said in the second paragraph, the game is severely flawed due to its limited visibility. Shadowkey is basically an action-RPG that throws you into a situation, with a specific goal, with the slaying of various creatures along the way, be it giant rats or bandits. This is all fine and dandy, but the problem lies in the fact that you can see only a few feet in front of your character. This is one of the few games that I’ve played where your view of sight is so drastically limited.

Yet another flaw in the game is combat. Faced with controls that just don’t cut it, you’re left with a ho-hum fighting experience. The collision detection is broken, so you’ll continuously strike at your foe until they are damaged or killed. When your enemy takes a hit, he flashes. So if he doesn’t flash, be prepared to strike, strike again, or else you’ll get killed yourself. Speaking of getting killed, it’s rather easy to avoid enemy attacks.

In the end, Elder Scrolls: Shadowkey is a poor attempt at taking the open-ended experience of the PC series, and putting it on a handheld device. The game is flawed from left to right, be it the graphics engine, the combat, the controls, etc. Nearly everything about this game makes it more difficult to play than it should. Even with all of these faults though, I still found some enjoyment in playing this game. Beware though, unless you’re the most avid Elder Scrolls fan, this game is not for you. Even then, you might just wind up disappointed in it anyway.

Graphics: 2
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 4
Creativity: 3
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 4.4
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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