Reviewed: December 1, 2003
Released: November 2, 2003
Traitorís Gate 2: Cypher, the Adventure Companyís follow up to 1999ís Traitorís Gate puts players back in the shoes of Raven, the secret agent previously assigned to prevent the theft of the British Crown Jewels. This time out Raven is charged with stopping the release of a devastating computer virus that has the potential to bring modern civilization to a screeching halt. To prevent a worldwide catastrophe, Raven must work through the puzzle laden ancient Babylonian ruins concealing the terrorist base and destroy the lab after making a copy of the virus.
Most of the time, I get to install a game on my PC before I see problems, not with Traitorís Gate 2. The program installed ok, then the StarForce copy-protection ďsolutionĒ requested that I restart my PC, after doing so it requested the CD Key, which on further investigation had been printed on a slip of paper enclosed with the game and was now buried somewhere in my desk clutter. After locating said piece of paper and entering the 24 digit key, ZoneAlarm (my SpyWare detection software) informed me that the program was trying to connect to the Internet, with some trepidation I O.Kíed it and it did its thing and let me get started. However, StarForce connects to the Ďnet every time you play the game to verify the authenticity of your disk, this is unnessary, somewhat insulting, and seemed to cause desktop crashes on several occasions. Copy-protection that breaks your game is bloody pointless.
Once the deceptively promising opening cut scene plays, you get to jump right into the ďactionĒ such as it is. The control lay out is garbage forcing you to awkwardly use the Arrow keys to move and turn, Shift alters your gate, Enter is the ďactionĒ key while the ďIĒ key is pressed to open the oft used inventory, and if you donít like your keys bound that way, tough. The only change you can make to the gameís controls is to move a slider for the mouse sensitivity to its lowest setting which still leaves the camera control nearly unplayably twitchy. And given the way this title is played, a twitchy, view control is the last thing you need, because this game is basically a 3D, third-person pixel hunt.
Frequently I was reduced to inching my way along while mashing the enter key in hopes of finding the next step in the puzzle I was working on, let me tell you a pixel hunt sans curser sucks. Most of the gameplay revolves around solving various puzzles and most of them are pretty straight forward, requiring switches to be thrown and knobs to be turned, they do seem horribly gratuitous in their placement and are often a pain in the ass to solve only to reward you with another pain in the ass puzzle.
Speaking of the puzzles, I was stuck at one point in the game, and in pure frustration, did the opposite of what the archaeologistís notebook said to do and it bloody worked. That was one of several typos I ran across, but there may be more. Typos in the clues that prevent you from solving the puzzles necessary to continue are not the makings of a good adventure game. There are also some scripting bugs in at least one of the cut-scenes, it starts to play and then the game just kind of stalls, leaving Raven to idle there, Iím assuming due to a bug in the scripting. In addition there are a few crash-to-desktop bugs that show up in some puzzles. Add to that a combination of clipping and collision detection issues that serve to make navigation in some areas nearly impossible to pass and the bottom line is that Cypher is absolutely no fun to play.
It disturbs me that any title could be allowed to ship with the visual issues that plague Traitorís Gate 2. Thereís at least one wall that Raven can walk right through and the floor of the game isnít a solid surface apparently, you frequently will see Ravenís lower legs vanish into the floor and on a few occasions only the top of his head is visible above the ground. Also there are at least two wall that raven can clip right through. Look, the gameís textures are pretty good if they do look a little washed out, but there isnít much nice I can say about the visuals due to the persistent bugs and extremely choppy performance at 1024 x 768, when my PC exceeds the system specs on the box by better than 100%.
The music in Traitorís Gate 2 is O.K. but not really outstanding or worth talking about with your friends. There are some issues with the 3D audio that makes some sounds seem like theyíre coming from the wrong direction. And if you donít want to throttle Raven every time he makes an inane comment on his surroundings, you are probably deaf. If a developer wants their character to be a situational comic, take a look at Serious Sam, and if you canít do it at least as well, donít try.
Well this is the big question isnít it? The purchase of Traitorís Gate 2 seems roughly akin to tossing $20 into a paper shredder. Between the bugs, the controls, the puzzles, and more bugs there are just many way, way better games to give a shot like, Syberia, Grim Fandango, hell even the original Traitorís Gate which is almost 4 years old and a fairly mediocre title, is a better choice than itís sequel.
I donít know what went wrong here. The premise of the game, take the original Traitorís Gate into 3D and up the stakes of the mission, was a great idea. The execution however was so deeply flawed I donít know why it even shipped. The Adventure Company is still one of my favorite publishers, but geez guys. I donít want to guess at the circumstances that resulted in this title, but everyone needs to just skip this title when it comes to shopping for your self or others.