Compared: November 1, 2003
Myst is probably one of the best-known computer games in the history of computer games. Since its release on September 23, 1993, over 9 million copies have been sold worldwide and the sequel, Riven has sold over 4 million since its release just four years later. Myst has become synonymous with beautiful graphics, brain-teasing puzzles, interesting locations, and intriguing stories; all the ingredients for a perfect adventure game. With another four-year gap between the second and third installments everyone is expecting something really special and Presto has delivered.
Myst III: Exile continues the fine Myst tradition with no less than five amazing and unique worlds to explore and over a dozen challenging puzzles. The PC version of Myst III released in May of 2001 and quickly became a favorite with adventure gamers around the world. Now, a year later, Ubisoft and Presto Studios bring this epic saga to the Xbox in what is perhaps one of the best PC to Xbox translations to date. Much more than a straight port, the designers have reworked this game to include all sorts of enhancements to take advantage of the extra power of the Xbox.
Round 1: Control
The 3D nature of the Myst games really lends itself to a mouse interface. While the game is not impossible to play with an Xbox controller it is a lot clumsier and may put off a lot of console gamers who aren't used to games like Myst. Presto did their best to keep the controls as functional as possible and have implement some nice vibration effects that actually become part of the gameplay for some of the puzzles. Even so, the PC still wins this round for overall ease of use.
Round 2: Visuals
The PC looked amazing but the Xbox is pefection with enhanced visuals that support all of the power of the Xbox. An enhanced modeling system has been used to create stunning vistas with some of the best water effects ever seen. And as trivial as it may sound, there is a new "director's cut" version of the lens flare to create some ultra-realistic lighting effects that simply weren't possible on the PC. The live-action video also seems to merge more seamlessly into the pre-rendered backgrounds for a much cleaner overall experience. The Xbox easily wins this round.
Round 3: Music & Sound
The Xbox wins this round with a stunning Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that totally surrounds you with amazing mechanical and natural sounds. Provided you have a 6-speaker system you are going to be able to identify the exact location of every sound you hear. It's truly an amazing experience.
Round 4: Other Deciding Factors
The Xbox version of Exile offers all of the behind-the-scenes footage and interviews that the PC Collector's Edition offered last year along with some new exclusive videos showing how the game was ported from PC to console. There is probably over an hour of extra goodies that is not only informative, but downright fun to watch. You'll really appreciate all the work the designers put into this project.
Despite the new features and enhancements for the Xbox, this is still a PC game with point-n-click interaction, so consider yourself warned. If you love Myst then the Xbox version is clearly the better version once you master the gamepad controls, but if you are looking for a fast-paced action game then look elsewhere. Myst is more of an "experience" than a game.