Most role-playing games are set in a fantasy world, and if they're not directly related to Dungeons & Dragons, they at least follow the blueprint of the D&D rules. Not so with Arcanum. Set in the world of steampunk--a genre of fiction that puts forth the idea that computers and other advanced technology existed back in the late 1800s--Arcanum's world is fantastic and instantly recognizable at the same time. The game begins with the crash of the L.F.S. Zephyr, which you were aboard. Things go from bad to worse as assassins try to kill you. Meanwhile, you struggle to understand why people think you are the reincarnation of "The Living One." Developed by Troika Games--which is staffed by many of the people who created the excellent Fallout games--Arcanum takes the conventions of the RPG genre and turns them on their head. Instead of binding players to a specific character class, such as Paladin or Barbarian, Arcanum lets you create a completely unique character. Experience points can be distributed in any area, so you can create a character that's a thief, magic user, and gunslinger all in one. In addition, you can specialize in either magic or technology, which will impact how the other characters in the game deal with you. The world of Arcanum is simply massive, and the story is extremely detailed. The main plot will provide you with 30 to 40 hours of gameplay, and the side quests will add another 10 to 20 hours to that figure. The quests run the gambit from fetching items to finding a cure for lycanthropy, and they're all well designed. Arcanum is viewed from a third-person isometric view--similar to Diablo II and Baldur's Gate II--and the graphics easily compare with any other RPG on the market. The characters are modeled nicely, and the backgrounds and structures are very detailed and really add substance to the game. Unfortunately, even on a high-end system such as an Athlon 1.33 GHz, the game suffers from long loading times, and will occasionally slow down during combat. Those minor problems aside, Arcanum is a sensational game. The open-ended nature of the character-creation system guarantees replayability, and the setting and story will offer relief for anyone tired of Diablo II's dungeon crawls. --Kilmic Robbins Pros: Great story Numerous quests Ability to completely customize character Cons: Long loading times Interface can be overwhelming at times
- Character Creation: No More Character Classes. Arcanum uses a classless, point-based system where players use points to "buy" attributes. You're only limited by your own creativity in guiding your character's development.
- Complex Stat-Driven System: Take charge or your own growth in the game environment. A deep and complex statistical system underlies every event that takes place within Arcanum. These include:
- 8 basic stats (including Strength and Charisma), and more than a dozen derived stat (such as Poison Resistance and Character Speed)
- 16 primary skills (such as Gambling, Healing, and Lock-Picking)
- 80 spells within 16 colleges