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Planescape: Torment
Minimum specs:P200, 32Mb RAM, 650Mb HD
Developer: Black Isle Studios
Publisher: Interplay
Genre: Role playing
Release Date: Out now No Players: 1
UK price: £40 PC Gamer Score: 86%

Article first published: Issue 71, July 1999
Writer:  Kieron Gillen

Take your mind to another dimension. An evil horrible one.

Immortal
I was thinking about this the other day. How did the collecting of magic swords and gold pieces manage to squeeze itself into role-playing games? After all, there’s not a single fantasy book where there’s such a blasé attitude towards acquiring new wealth.

Example: The Hobbit. Bilbo gaining the Ring is the most important event in the entire book, leading on to the whole Lord Of The Rings malarkey. It mattered. Modern paper-based RPGs have moved towards character development and away from endless corpse-robbing. How come we gamers are stuck in a 1970s primitive state, eh? Luckily, Planescape: Torment’s on a one game quest to turn computer RPGs from soulless slash-and-burn into a personality paradise.

Take inter-party politics. In the average RPG, recruiting an extra member just adds extra limbs to your monster-killing machine. In Torment it’s a major decision. Because when someone first enters your party all you know is their strength, magic capabilities and hit-points. You won’t know what class they are or what skills they possess until they actually display them. Equally, you won’t know their alignment until they start acting accordingly. Assessment of your party is a new game-element. Get it wrong and you could have a psycho-thief in your midst.

Since your colleagues are generally rather extreme individuals you can expect your party to, well, not just be one big party. Belligerent chums will interrupt your speech to NPCs if they think it’s important enough, or leave the party if you start acting against their moral scruples. There are even two female NPCs who are both desperately in love with you, and spend their time bitching, insulting and even physically attacking each other. A woman scorned, eh?

Planescape: Torment is attempting to be iconoclastic in the most stereotyped of genres. We’re cheering it on.
   

THE MAG
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