I hopped on a train to London with my trusty press pass to attend ECTS, and more importantly see the Uru booth.
When I got to the booth the man from UbiSoft had the screen on the Avatar Customization option. So I snapped a quick picture and watched as the Ubisoft staff member edited an avatar of a young lady.
The amount that you can customize your avatar is vast, the avatar is split up into sections: head, body, hands, legs and feet. You can customize what they are wearing the colour of what they are wearing (The young lady avatar was sporting a leather jacket with a V- neck shirt just showing underneath you can edit the colour of both the jacket and the top underneath) add logos (such as DRC logo or the T shirt Designs Dr Marie Sutherland has been selling at cafepress), Age and Weight comes in a slider bar adding wrinkles or getting rid of them and you can even choose how wide your mouth is, eye colour and toenail colour (the bright green toed avatar was interesting to say the least).
Players appear in the Desert some distance away from the cleft, a few minutes running brings you to Zandi’s trailer.
I was shown the first puzzle you came to here but I shall not spoil you on that, walked up to the cleft which is a lot bigger than first thought (the volcano was fenced off unfortunately). He then proceeded to show me Relto and a Puzzle solution on Teledahn before taking his leave and allowing me to play for myself.
Course first thing I did when I got to Relto (the personal age) was to take a running jump off of the edge to see what happens, hooray for the Panic Link feature I say. This version of Relto had 4 small pillars on the “lawn” each one adorned with the infamous Spiral Hand symbol that when pressed opens a panel and a linking book slides out (I found ones for Teledahn, Gahreesen and Kadish Tolesa). The books then appear in the shelf in your personal age hut. Inside the hut there are two shelves one to the left which houses your linking books and one on the right. The one on the right only had one book on which I assumed to be that of Yeesha’s which was filled with quotes relevant to the ages (Note Eder Kemo and Eder Gira were listed on the same page where every other age had a page to itself). Also in the hut was a cupboard which house the option to change some of your clothing and a leaver to open and close the blinds in the hut window.
The demo I played did not contain all ages featured in the offline version of the game, it did contain however – The Cleft, Kadish Tolesa, Gahreesen, Relto, The Nexus, The Gallery in D’ni and Teledahn.
Kadish Tolesa was the second age I visited this is an age that boasts colossal trees that are towers in themselves and cathedral like ruins. The Nexus seemed to be a small round room of cogs like being inside a machine, There was a circular symbol in which players place their KI’s into the slot below it this activated a screen that allows you to choose a linking book to any the locations you have access to. Having chosen a spinning cog stops and kinda drops the book out like a drinks dispenser.
Unfortunately the Gahreesen age was incomplete on the demo allowing me to only be able to walk along a few corridors however it was one of the ages that had the most atmosphere for me (aside to Kadish Tolesa). The dim lighting on the linking point with only the shadow the the tree’s above against the walls of room added to the size of the great stone doors and the fact the age was empty and quiet seemed to give me a feeling of unease. I did however notice the Symbol for the Guild of Maintainers and a few artifacts of gold and green that I think where part of a helmet for a protective suit.
I also visited the gallery that is a lot bigger than the image posted at the DRC site fist shows (the said image shows a small section of what I term the “North End” ( I say this because I was facing this section after I had linked to the Gallery from Kadish). The “South End” is a larger area with a small structure that houses a linking book back to Kadish. The gallery contains a load of strange geometric artwork and sculpture that are in a range of bright colours that echoed some shapes I had found on Kadish.
The Avatar controls are quite straight forward that range from mouse (that you use to click on linking book and view things) and keyboard (Avatar controls and text chat in the KI feature). What I did like was the slight fading that the avatar takes when the mouse cursor is placed over it, for instance when choosing a book from the shelf in Relto. The shelf was in front of my avatar I placed the mouse over the avatar and it faded slightly allowing me to look through to the linking books.
Personally I found the avatar controls awkward at first trying to move from the linking hut in Teledahn to the main section of the age took me a few minutes but after playing a while longer (I was playing the Demo for a good hour or so) I found them easier and could run along the Teledahn walkways and steps without bumping into things.
The game is fantastic with ages ranging from small to huge and the KI functions are great, allowing images to be taken of area which can then be sent on to your friends that are on your buddy list (The KI works like an Instant messenger might it even has an ignore feature in case of people being troll like in Uru – course that’s nothing when we have RAWA and his big stick). I think the online version will be great fun, I enjoyed plodding around the ages on my own but to be able to walk around Kadish or Eder Kemo with friends will be nice. I also noticed how the DRC site colour scheme echoes things in Uru like the Avatar Customization screen.
As some may know the game comes with 1st and 3rd person views which are easy to switch between as pressing a simple key. A lot of Myst fans like the first person mode favoring it above 3rd person I too would have been one of them but after playing I prefer the 3rd person view it gives you a glimpse into how vast places like D’ni and Kadish are. Uru is set for release in Europe on the 6th of November 2003 (No word on the US release date but it will be close to the European one according to Ubisoft staff).