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GameBanshee Reviews Avadon 2: The Corruption

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GameBanshee Reviews Avadon 2: The Corruption

Review - posted by Infinitron on Wed 13 November 2013, 12:31:52

Tags: Avadon 2: The Corruption; Eric Schwarz; Spiderweb Software

GameBanshee's Eric Schwartz has written a four page review of Spiderweb Software's latest offering, Avadon 2: The Corruption. As many of you might know if you've been following his posts on the Codex and elsewhere, he didn't much like it. For example, here's his appraisal of the game's story:

This focus on morally grey political situations is Avadon 2's biggest strength, as far as its story goes. The story provides you many opportunities to side with or against many involved parties, and additionally makes a bigger distinction between the Midlands Pact, Avadon itself, and its ruler, Redbeard, as all three dimensions are called into question rather than just one. Jeff Vogel, though not the flashiest writer when it comes to dialogue, knows how to create interesting scenarios for events to take place in.

But, while these smaller individual situations and scenes found in the game are often quite interesting, the wider plot unfortunately feels like it's taken a back seat. Avadon as a setting is extremely generic, and while The Corruption has expanded it somewhat, the political drama that makes up its more interesting subplots isn't fully realized in the main story, which instead devolves into a similarly generic "save the world" plot that's one step short of featuring a doomsday device. I do think it's better than the first game's story, which I found extremely slow-paced and uneventful - but it's still not that great, either, and lacks a lot of the mystery and sense of discovery of other Spiderweb games.

What's more, Avadon 2's story constantly resorts to frustrating contrivances. There are close to a dozen times throughout the game where villains twirl their mustaches and cackle from behind magical plot armor, and even in those situations where you may be allowed to act, the game gives the enemy an absurd number of hit points and protection spells to stop you from messing things up (which, of course, you can never get yourself). There were also several instances where my party was captured by the villains in a cutscene, and in one case subdued by the same types of enemies that I'd already slaughtered dozens of with ease. This inconsistency between game mechanics and story happens time and time again, and in my opinion, runs contrary to the core principles of computer RPGs.

There's also a lot of little nits to pick which show Avadon 2 may not have received as much attention as it could have in the story department. There's a ham-fisted, awkward romance sub-plot shoehorned in that keeps popping up whether you care or not, there are still tons of "fake" choices in dialogue that have no impact on how events play out, and the ending feels very rushed, acting as a blatant sequel setup rather than a satisfying conclusion. Additionally, while Jeff Vogel has constructed a character-driven story, unfortunately his writing often doesn't provide those characters with interesting back-stories, motives or personalities, both allies and enemies alike - while the villains are probably the most one-dimensional, the companion characters also feel like they were picked off a shelf, most of them falling into the "arrogant and egotistical" or "mysterious and brooding" camps.​

On the other hand, he does think the combat is somewhat improved from the first game:

The actual combat itself in Avadon 2 is actually a step up from the last game, in terms of encounter design. Combat against regular enemies tends to be very boring and uneventful, with little strategy required short of luring enemies around corners one-by-one, spamming area-of-effect spells, and buffing your party up, and as the game goes on these trash fights succumb to hit point bloat and pointless repetition. However, the addition of Tinkermages doesn't just mean you get to use turrets and traps - it also means many areas feature mines, blade throwers, and other mechanical obstacles that present some interesting challenges. Enemy Tinkermages also present more potent threats, and many encounters combine both stationary traps with standard enemies. There are also a number of fights against bosses and unique enemies that, while often heavily scripted, require the use of special one-time mechanics to complete. These fights are often very engaging, and towards the end of the game, challenging in a way that doesn't feel cheap or frustrating.​

And in summary:

Overall, Avadon 2 is very much more of the same for Avadon. What Avadon did well, in its interesting political situations that tread morally ambiguous ground, is still alive and well in Avadon 2, perhaps even better. There are also some enjoyable side-quests and a few companions I liked, even though a few too many characters were too bland and stock for my tastes. The Tinkermage character class is also something different and is more interesting to play than most of the other choices, too. Even though the overarching story itself is not very interesting, it's still a step up from the first game's.

Yet, Avadon 2 also maintains all the same issues the first game had in spades. There is too much of a focus on combat, and the combat that does make up most of the gameplay simply isn't very good most of the time. The quest design is often absurd and illogical in the way it cuts off opportunities from you arbitrarily. There's still an over-abundance of purely cosmetic choices, where a line of dialogue will change but the end result will be identical. And perhaps worst, it's simply too big and bloated for its own good, and doesn't have enough for the player to really do - that Diablo-level of depth to the character system really does lead to a mechanically shallow game on the whole.

Avadon found its niche of fans, of course, and Avadon 2 will still please those players who want more of the same, but as a sequel, and Spiderweb's umpteenth game overall, I feel these issues shouldn't be overlooked. At $10 on Steam and GOG, and $20 at Spiderweb's official site, Avadon 2: The Corruption still follows the Spiderweb mantra of providing a lot of game for your dollar, and I still do appreciate Jeff Vogel's incredible effort in building such huge RPGs with such a small team. But, take away the sheer size and ambition of the "one-man RPG studio", and the game both comes up lacking next to Spiderweb's excellent Geneforge and Avernum games, and unambitious when taken as a sequel to the first Avadon.​

tl;dr Vogel's gonna Vogel.

There are 54 comments on GameBanshee Reviews Avadon 2: The Corruption

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