Restricted Area Preview
By Anthony R Brock

Well, it's finally happened. Someone finally realized that the Diablo hack'n'slash style of gameplay would work just fine in a science fiction universe, and so we have Restricted Area, a sci-fi action game with a microscopic injection of RPG elements, that mimics Blizzard's opus in almost every detail, except here you can tell it's not geniuses pulling the strings, it's newbie hacks. Now, don't get me wrong, there was promise here at one point in its development life, but I have a sharply acute nose for sniffing out mediocrity, and Restricted Area just reeks of it.

The graphics don't look bad at all, but follow the Sacred style of pre-drawn backgrounds with 3D characters. In fact, the engine feels a lot like Sacred in many other ways as well, and I guess it could be the same one as both games were developed in Germany... but wait, Restricted Area's website says it's an original engine called IRIS, and developed exclusively for the game. That sure shut me up. It doesn't look great, but it's not bad at all. The menu system feels a bit hacked up and dated, and there isn't much in the way of graphic options to tweak, but at least the load times are very quick.

Since the game was released in Germany over 5 months ago, I suppose I should assume the game is in a finished state apart from the voice acting and dialogue. That's good and bad, depending on how you look at it. Good, in that I've been proven right yet again: The voice acting and dialogue are definitely nowhere near done, as some of the responses you can give are not only unrelated to what the NPC is talking to you about, they are completely nonsensical as sentences of English. An online translator could do better, and that's really saying something. Bad, in that the rest of the game is rough, lame, and unpolished. It feels like a cheap ripoff of Diablo made by Wizardworks, with lame, basic levels, mind numbing and repetitive action sequences, and a very poor RPG element even more poorly integrated.

Now, I know with a preview I'm supposed to wax rhapsodic about how this game shows tons of “promise”, has some “minor issues that need sorting”, but is overall “a sure fire winner for fans of the genre”. You'll get none of that in my previews, this one included. Pandering to game developers and outright lying about the status and playability of an upcoming game is something I refuse to do, and if that means saying an upcoming game is going to suck like a ocean liner turbine in the red zone, then consider it said. This one will only appeal to the most die hard fans of Diablo clones and people with ludicrously eccentric tastes.