Eye of the Beholder. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Bob Guerra
On the fifth day of Marpenoth in the year of the Shadows Piergeiron, the chief lord of Waterdeep summoned me to a most solemn meeting. There was trouble in Waterdeep, and the source lay deep within the city itself. It would be my duty to uncover this evil and destroy it before it destroyed Waterdeep. With a letter of Marque in hand, I quickly assembled a small band of hearty adventures and set out of face the unknown source of evil. Unfortunately, the most logical place to begin my search was also the least hospitable - the sewers beneath the city.
Eye of the Beholder joins Strategic Simulations' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line of fantasy role-playing games, and it's the first title in the groundbreaking new Legend Series. Eye of the Beholder, like all games in the new series, utilize Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition game rules for combat resolution, character generation, and generally gameplay. More importantly, however, the game represents a dramatic advance in sound and graphic quality for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line. For instance, as you search through the many labyrinths beneath Waterdeep, you hear the distinct sound of dripping water and the muffled foot steps of undead creatures. During combat, you hear the metallic clang of heavy weapons on armor and the ghastly cries and hisses of your dying foes as your party battles with bizarre monsters. The sewers are inhabited by a variety of creatures ranging from Giant Spiders and Zombies to Kobolds and Mantis Warriors. All monsters are carefully drawn and animated.
You begin the game either by creating your own characters from scratch or, if you want to dive right in, by using a prebuilt party. Eye of the Beholder can be played entirely with keyboard input, or you can point and click your way through the adventure with a mouse or other pointing device.
As you explore the sewers below Waterdeep, the area directly in front of your party is visible through a large 3-D view window. To the right are character portraits of the four player characters and up to two nonplayer characters (NPCs) who may join your group during the adventure. Hand-held as weapons and spell books are shown alongside each portrait, and both combat and spell casting are accomplished by clicking on the appropriate icons. Below each portrait, characters' hit points are displayed either as a bar graph or, if you prefer, a numeric value. By clicking on a specific character's portrait, you access an equipment screen that graphically displays all of the character's belongings. Here, you can easily outfit a character dragging weapons and armor from backpack to body. To feed your fearless warrior, your simply drag food from his or her backpack over to a small table setting and drop it on the plate.
A separate character screen supplies all the vital statistics on each character such as class, alignment, race, sex, ability scores, experience, and character levels. Convenient Next and Previous buttons on both the equipment and character screens let you access similar information on other members of your party without your having to first return to the main screen.
Eye of the Beholder is not without a couple of annoying faults. First, each time you load the game, you must specify the graphic mode and sound board you wish to use and indicate whether or not you want to use your mouse. Second, unlike many games that allow you to save multiple games by assigning each a unique name, Eye of the Beholder makes every game that you save automatically replace the previous one. Even with these glitches, Eye of the Beholder remains one of the most engaging fantasy roleplaying games I've seen in a long time and one that no Advanced Dungeons & Dragons fan should be without.