"Quest for Glory II is the second in a series of graphical adventure games with an RPG twist. For the most part, it's an adventure in classic Sierra style - visit locations, collect items, solve puzzles - but an RPG element is added in letting you play as either a fighter, magic-user or thief. You'll also be given a set of familiar statistics including strength, dexterity, hit points and a number of skills. The end result is a good hybrid that gives you a reason to play the game through three tim..."
Quest for Glory II is the second in a series of graphical adventure games with an RPG twist. For the most part, it's an adventure in classic Sierra style - visit locations, collect items, solve puzzles - but an RPG element is added in letting you play as either a fighter, magic-user or thief. You'll also be given a set of familiar statistics including strength, dexterity, hit points and a number of skills. The end result is a good hybrid that gives you a reason to play the game through three times: every class has a different game. All will follow the same storyline, but puzzles are solved differently depending on who you are, and each character has a couple of scenes unique to them.
The story of Quest for Glory II is set a couple of weeks after the conclusion of the first game. The adventurer you controlled proved himself to be a true hero by ridding the valley of Spielburg of a band of brigands and a nasty witch. Now, his friends from the first game have taken him to their homeland of Shapeir to help against a gathering evil here; an evil that will soon manifest itself into attacks on the city by elemental beings.
The setting of QFG2 is decidedly Arabian Nights, and has shamelessly borrowed quite a few plot points from Aladdin. Most of the story is original though, so it comes across more as a tribute than a ripoff or parody. The ancient Persian style comes through clearly in the game's presentation on all fronts; your hero is given a makeover with more suitable clothes, the city of Shapeir has all the plazas, bazaars and architecture you'd expect, and the soundtrack has a distinct Arabian feel to it. As in the lst game, music is varied, but plays only when you visit key locations; much of the game is quiet, which actually helps the music set the mood where it does play.
Like most early Sierra adventurers, QFG2 still works with a keyboard-driven interface, meaning that you'll use the cursor keys to move around, and you'll be typing commands rather than clicking icons. This may be a little hard to get used to if you didn't grow up on games with that kind of interface, but otherwise it works out well enough. The game's vocabulary is extensive and you'll rarely, if ever, run into the problem of knowing what to do, but not how to make the game understand your intentions. This interface is clearly superior when having conversations with the various people you meet; if you want information, you're going to have to type "ask about [subject]" and come up with good ideas yourself, rather than just work down a list like you would in the later QFG games. Between the vast number of characters and the wide range of conversation subjects, you likely won't even see all the possible dialogue in a single game.
Quest for Glory 2 is solid as an adventure already, and the RPG elements blend in extremely well. You'll get to use various skills to solve the puzzles you come across, all of which are in character with whatever class you have chosen. Fighters basically brute force their way through everything, whereas magic-users seem to have a spell for everything from opening doors and levitating to damaging or confusing their enemies in combat. The thief, as in the previous game, tends to have the most interesting and elegant solutions to problems. He'll use his abilities to sneak, climb and pick locks, and add some acrobatics to the mix in this game. More importantly, the thief lives an interesting double life as he'll be playing the hero by day and breaking into houses at night. The break-in scenes are both tense and funny; one of them involves a lot of hiding and trickery, as the owner's three sons come home just as you're doing your heist; the first too drunk to notice you, the second so stupid that he's easily fooled, but the third clever and alert. Being caught here results in a humorous end to your game, and in classic Sierra fashion, many of the possible deaths for your hero are actually quite funny.
The whole mood is lighthearted, anyway. You may be saving a city (and later, the world) from destruction, but this doesn't keep the game from throwing a wide range of stereotyped and often funny characters at you. From the very overweight and somewhat paranoid merchant Abdullah Doo, the gnomish magician Keapon Laffin (yep, regrettably, that *is* a pun) and the utterly serious sage Aziza, every character adds a little bit of personal charm, and some of them are outright ridiculous. Most prominent in the game are the Katta, half cat and half man, a lovable race of merchants and artisans who all look alike and all seem to be related to each other. If you liked the two you encountered in the first game, you'll be in furry heaven here.
Another tradition that's continued from the first game is the alarming number of intentionally bad puns, sometimes fired off in rapid succession. Looking at the moneychanger's guard results in no less than eight consecutive puns regarding currency, and even that is topped when you make the mistake of asking the owner of the magic shop about fish. All of it more likely to make you groan than laugh, but that's exactly the intention. Quantity goes over quality in Quest for Glory humour, and while there are only a couple of laugh out loud moments, you can expect a quip almost everywhere you turn. Some of the game's silliest scenes are off by default - perhaps in order not to disturb the mood too much - but they can be turned on from the menu, and once there the game merrily refuses to let you turn them off again. Once you've turned this on, you can fully expect to run across Persian golf players in the desert and American jet fighters patrolling the skies.
But you're not always solving puzzles or shaking your head at bad jokes. Combat occurs at regular intervals, both as part of the storyline and as random battles fought as you explore the desert surrounding Shapeir. Fights take place on a separate screen where you can attack the enemy, parry attacks or try to dodge them, and the trick to doing it well is to watch your opponent and learn their patterns over time. Statistics play a big role in this, obviously. A fighter with a high Weapon Use will be able to hit an enemy far more easily than a thief who's just starting the game. Magic-users aren't much good with their dagger at all, but have various combat spells available to make things easier for them (though most of their repertoire is for puzzle solving). The best thing about combat is that your own skill and experience factor in to an extent, so it's not just button mashing. This becomes abundantly clear when you fight a giant scorpion, which can kill you with a single hit of its poisonous stinger if you're not paying attention. Strong fighter or not, if you don't dodge when he swings his tail, it's all over. Building up your statistics over the course of the game is helpful for some of the later battles, but not quite as vital as in the first Quest for Glory. You started out as a total weakling there and had to fight hard for your survival. Here, you can defend yourself fairly well from the beginning, and the difference between a starting character and an endgame one is smaller, though still noticeable.
Time passes as you go about your quest, and unlike in the first game, its passage is meaningful now. There are many scripted events throughout the game which take place on certain dates, and some puzzles must be solved before a certain deadline to avoid a game over. In order not to make this too restrictive, these deadlines are pretty generous. This is good for the newcomer, who will have a sense of urgency and yet a good chance to walk around, talk to people and come up with the right solutions to urgent problems like a fire elemental destroying the city. For the veteran player, however, this scripting presents a problem; they'll spend a little time solving the puzzles which they already know the solutions to, and then have to kill time waiting for the next event to take place. This time can be spent improving your statistics or just sleeping at the local inn, for the most part, but even this isn't always an option. Late in the game you have to wait for an entire day in game time to pass without having any option to skip time or even to do anything constructive. This is quite annoying, especially since this is part of the game's climax. You'd expect things to speed up here. They do right after, fortunately, and the game still builds up to a very satisfying finale, far better than the somewhat tedious one in the first game.
All in all, Quest for Glory 2 is a solid package. You'll meet many new characters and stay in touch with a few old friends from the first game, and you even have the option to import your old character with all his stats and most of his inventory intact. Newcomers will be able to pick up the game just fine too, as the storyline is only loosely related. While the interface can be a bit of a barrier to those who aren't used to having to type their commands, the game has aged well otherwise, still looking gorgeous and having lots of memorable scenes. What they lack in splendor compared to modern FMV, they definitely make up for in charm and loving attention to detail. Anybody who watches the cat girl Shema dance at the inn will have to agree; it's a scene that a lot of work went into, and it serves absolutely no gameplay purpose. You don't even get points for watching. It's just all extra added atmosphere, and it's little touches like this that make this such an endearing game.
Quest for Glory 2 is going to appeal more to the adventurous crowd than the RPG fanatics, as it's easily 80% adventure. But to fans of the older Sierra and LucasArts adventures, the QFG series is very easy to recommend; and despite the occasional slow pacing, this title is probably the best of the bunch.
Community review by sashanan (June 11, 2009)
Sashanan doesn't drink coffee; he takes tea, my dear. And sometimes writes reviews. His roots lie with the Commodore 64 he grew up with, and his gaming remains fragmented among the very old, the somewhat old, and rarely the new.
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