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Syberia II

Developer: XS Games | Publisher: Microids
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/05/04 | Genre: Adventure

Adventure gaming has seen much better days. With most of the big name Adventure titles getting canceled, fans of the genre have had to look to smaller games from companies like The Adventure Company on the PC to get their Adventure game fix. While the PC sees 99% of the Adventure games released, the original Syberia came out on both the PC and console. Its sequel, Syberia II, also has now seen a release on both consoles and the PC. Is it worth a purchase though?

Like the original, Syberia II is very nice looking. But the animation style used in adventure games like this one is not the same as in other genres. A lot of the graphics are not animated and are more like a beautiful looking postcard. That said, there are still some animations the player will see from time to time. Some animations the players will see are things such as trees move back and forth, animals run across the screen, and snow gently falls to the ground. The characters are also nice to look at and move very realistically through the world.

One area where Adventure games can sometimes fail is poor voice work. You will not find that here with Microids' Syberia II. For those of you who don't care to hear the excellent voice work, there is an option to turn on subtitles. Like the voice work, the music is also very good. Each area has its own unique music to listen to. While I would prefer to have some sort of background music playing through the majority of the game, at times there are just environment sounds like the wind, water, footsteps, etc. Despite my desie to have a few more musical scores, I did enjoy all the sound work done in Syberia II.

The story in Syberia II picks up right at the end of the original Syberia. Our hero, Kate Walker, found the toymaker Hans Voralberg and with Oscar, a automaton, the three travel in search of the mysterious Syberia. For those of you who did not play or make it all the way through the original Syberia, there is an optional cinema that will fill you in on all the details you may have missed. One thing players may not like about the game is that Syberia II does not have as good of a storyline as the original. The game is very attached to the events of the first game and feels more like Syberia II could be an expansion pack to the first game than an all new adventure. That is not to say that the story isn't good. I just would have preferred it to be a little less connected to the first game because players who never beat or played the first game may be turned off because they missed out the first time around.

One of the more annoying features of the first Syberia returns... pixel hunting. This is a horrible gameplay mechanic used by countless Adventure games throughout the years. What happens is that you have to sometimes take your mouse and move it over the entire screen until you find the item or object you need. Sometimes it is easy to locate and other times it requires the eyes of an eagle to find.

This leads to another frustrating element of Adventure games... strange puzzles that have no connection to the game. The best example of a title using this is Myst. While Myst was one of the first titles to make use of the CD-ROM format, it also put players in a beautiful world with random puzzles to solve. Now, not all puzzles in Syberia are random. A great deal of them are valid and have a connection the environment and story. Without giving anything away, just be prepared to face some puzzles that will leave you scratching your head, looking for a solution online, and wondering why it is there to begin with.

While the first game concentrated mainly on Kate Walker, you will find that its sequel will center around the elder toymaker Hans Voralberg. Your goal is to help him locate this mysterious Syberia and there isn't really any other goal in the game but this. And once you do reach the end of the game, we are left with an opening for a Syberia III. Depending on sales for this title, we may in fact see a third installment of the series.

While Syberia II is not perfect, it is the best Adventure game to come around in a very long time. While using the controller to manipulate the cursor on screen is not as friendly as a mouse and keyboard are, Adventure game fans owe it to themselves to pick up this game. Regardless of if you play it on the PC or console, it is a worthy follow-up to Syberia.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 11/14/04
ESRB Details: Mild Language
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Screenshots for Syberia II

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