reviews\ Apr 4, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Syberia II - PC - Review

The last time we met Kate Walker, she was working for an upscale New York law firm and saddled with the responsibility of closing a deal concerning an automaton factory. The sole surviving owner was an old man named Hans who had an obsession with mammoths. He took off in search of a mythic island known as Syberia. Hans believed that mammoths some how managed to survive all these years on this hidden island, and was determined to find them. Instead of sealing the factory deal, Kate wound up accompanying Hans on his adventure. Syberia was awarded adventure game of the year for beautiful graphics, a unique story and a sincere protagonist on a search to find herself. Syberia 2 picks up where the first game leaves off.

Syberia 2 is like Return Of The Jedi. We know the story, but we need to tie up loose ends. Kate and Hans are looking for mammoths. Oscar the annoying yet lovable robot, who irritates much the way C-3PO does, drives the train. The train will get stuck, it will break and Kate has to figure out a way to fix everything and get to the fabled island of Syberia before its too late and Hans can no longer make the journey. There’s a pair of dim-witted villains to contend with, a rampaging bear, and a dream sequence toward the end that I really enjoyed.

The conclusion to Syberia, Syberia II, delivers crisp graphics, stunning artwork, memorable locations and characters, and a talented voice cast. The howling wind, falling snowdrifts and haunting music create a rather somber, yet very worthy finish that fans of the first game will appreciate. It does not have the charm of the first game however. It feels like the last chapter in a longer story. If you haven’t experienced the first part of the story, than the end may appear incomplete. Without the depth and background, Syberia II deals more specifically with actually getting to the island of mammoths, and not the mysterious past of Hans or with Kate’s tumultuous personal life.

Play is reminiscent of its predecessor. Movement is achieved by a point and click method with the mouse cursor. Each puzzle can be solved by obtaining an object, speaking to another character or manipulating a panel or machine. Speaking to other characters will open up new dialogue trees and help progress the plot. Standard adventure attributes delivered beautifully for the most part.

Most of the solutions are fluid and several problems are solved by using animals which I found refreshing. Other puzzles require traveling to point B to retrieve an object only to travel all the way back to point A and then back again. Some may find this a little tiresome, but adventure veterans know this is not unusual to the genre.

Kate Walker’s character development is what made Syberia such an involving experience. We found out about her life through strategically placed cell phone conversations. There are several more phone calls in Syberia II, but they aren’t very important and don’t really add much depth. Newcomers to the series might find themselves wondering why Kate is in the middle of nowhere on a train in a blizzard with an old man in poor health and a robot. I would suggest playing part one and part two in a nice long gaming stretch if you can. The magic of who Kate Walker is, and how she has grown does not carry over to the sequel as a stand-alone offering. Syberia II would not be as good without the character growth provided to Kate in Part I. Instead, I was left with a now what feeling when I finished Syberia II. What happens to Kate and how does she put her life back together in New York? That would be a great starting point for Syberia number 3. Syberia II gives an ending that fans have been wanting since the first game was released. But does it provide an ending? You tell me.

Gameplay:  8
Consists of the tried and true method of point and click, but Syberia II does it very well. Puzzles are integrated logically in most cases and are reasonably challenging.

Graphics:  9
The world of Syberia is once again beautiful and filled with a sense of ancient mystery. Careful attention to detail really sets this game ahead of the pack once again.

Sound: 8
The music is almost melancholy at times, which really sets the stage that Kate is completely alone. Kind of sad, but very convincing.

Difficulty: Easy
There was one instance that had a path finding issue where I had to click and click for a good ten minutes to find the right spot to complete a task. However, most of the puzzle solutions are solved simply by process of elimination. A bit of good deduction work provides just the right amount of challenge.

Concept: 8
The concept of Syberia is still a fresh one and drastically different from the standard action oriented titles out there.

Overall: 8
The overall presentation of Syberia II is excellent. Easily one of the best adventures games so far this year. The character depth is not as strong as the first, but it answers some burning questions and in my opinion, the end opens up a whole new bottle of what now? A must for Kate Walker fans. Others may not get it.


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