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Realms of the Haunting

Realms of the Haunting

Scaring up a good Time

Interplay Productions doesn’t think you have a ghost of a chance to master their latest 3D action adventure title.

"Realms of the Haunting" is a first person perspective game (it has a "Doom-like" interface), in which you have to battle the forces of evil in a nether world that could have stepped out of an H.P. Lovecraft story.

In this most horrific of happenings, you play Adam Randall, who’s visiting a remote Cornish village to discover what evil deed caused your father’s death. Once in Cornwall, and in the spooky old mansion that’s your starting point, you’re drawn into Sheol, Hellud, Raquia, and Arqua, realms populated by all manner ghastly and ghoulish things – and of course they want to send your soul a-packin’ pronto.

Your goal, besides not getting done in, is to unite the broken Shrive with the Soulstone so good can once more reign on Earth. Pretty straightforward, eh?

Of course this is much easier said than done, and the resulting quest creepily covers four CD-ROM’s.

This game has a real horror movie feel; it’s claustrophobic and dark, and you need to keep your wits about you. Screaming ninnies need not apply. Interplay makes generous use of video clips as well – in fact the opening looks more like the beginning of a big budget movie than a computer game.

You’ll find lots of clues and weapons to help you on your way, including maps, documents, weapons, and assorted magical objects - and the package even contains a special "hints" section to help you stumble through the first ten chapters. We used it a lot!

As you head off to rout the rampaging wraiths or be destroyed trying, you’ll have to scare up dark stairways, secret panels, and underground passageways – and you’ll want to keep a gun to hand because it does a surprisingly efficient job of making undead creatures really dead.

Game play is pretty straightforward and, while the interface and controls are slightly different from other first person games, getting up to speed doesn’t take long.

"ROTH" is pretty sophisticated, technologically, and you’ll want a robust system. We ran it on a Pentium 133 with 32 Meg of Ram and a 4 Meg video card and it was still jerky. You can speed up the action by dumbing down the settings (there’s a plethora of options), or by installing more of the game onto your hard drive.

The recommended installation eats up 103 Meg, which we find excessive. We opted for the minimal grab of 4.5 Meg and lived with the resulting choppiness.

That rubbed us the wrong way, though: in an age of fast CD-ROM drives, why do game makers insist on swallowing as much hard drive as many applications – while still requiring the CD-ROM to be in the drive?

Still – if you want to play, that’s the price of admission – and Realms of the Haunting is worth playing. It’s the spookiest game we’ve encountered and, when we get back our nerve, we're returning to finish the task before it’s too late.

After all, we can’t let evil win. It would be, well, bad.


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January 31, 2006