Old CD’s: Games, Encyclopedia, Apps.

Reviews About Old Software on CD-ROM from the 1990’s

Crystal Skull, The November 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — gamegoldies @ 6:07 am
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Games – Adventure & Mystery

The Crystal Skull

When the “white men with beards” arrive in ancient Mexico to pillage Aztec society, a young Aztec warrior accepts a quest to find a magical crystal skull. Along the way he talks with people, avoids traps, solves puzzles, and consults Edward James Olmos frequently. This is the world of The Crystal Skull (Maxis), “a mythic Aztec adventure” that boasts dazzling production values and an intriguing premise, and yet still fails to produce a spark. There’s a lot that’s provocative about this three-disc set, including a detailed recreation of an Aztec village, glitzy visuals, and some thorough online text about the Aztec culture (the text is so thorough, in fact, that parts of this game are more truly educational than some so-called educational games). Unfortunately, the strong elements of the CD-ROM have failed to synthesize into anything very compelling. As you move your photo-rendered character around, you may find yourself wondering what Maxis gained by using photo-rendering; everything is slowed down, nothing looks quite real anyway, and the acting is almost uniformly abysmal. Some of the characters you meet strive for authenticity, while others fall into modern-speak such as “what’s up?” The “talkbox” interface, which makes you listen to your character speaking complete lines before you can choose which one to say, throws a wrench into the pacing; moreover, it makes you listen to a lot of the young warrior’s wooden delivery. This actor would be much more at home showing off his smile on Melrose Place than searching through an ancient Aztec village. Edward James Olmos can’t seem to decide whether or not to play this shtick straight; his approach borders on deadpan, but he seems so uninvolved in his dialogue that he’s practically winking at the audience. An interesting idea has gone down the wrong path with The Crystal Skull.

– December 1996



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