Myst V
End of Ages

Format: PC/Mac

3 307210 204400
Age Restrictions: 7+
23 September 2005

Restore the lost empire of the D'ni - an ancient civilisation of people who thrived for thousands of years but later met with a great catastrophe. Like each previous Myst title, Myst V: End of Ages advances the graphical detail of its worlds with a fully immersive 3D environment. Carefully crafted and combined elements of adventure, puzzles, storyline and gameplay ensure a worthy ending to the series. Myst V: End of Ages follows the Myst storyline to its conclusion - closing the book on the Ages of Myst...

Myst V: End of Ages will be the last of the Myst games to be produced by Cyan, the company behind the original Myst game. The new game starts with a voice-over by Attrus, the character who has been trying to save the world of Myst through the previous four games. He sounds dejected and defeated in his quest, so, of course, as the hero it's up to you to try and put things right.

You start in Attrus's prison, in the first age K'veer, with little else but a book with the words Myst emblazoned upon it, but of course you can't open it, that would be too easy. No, you must first escape the room. Once you've done this, and for once it's fairly straightforward for a Myst game, you find your way to another chamber where you discover a tablet to be freed (one of the many objects of the game) and the first talking character, Yeesha. So, you're off to visit each of the worlds of Myst to solve puzzles and find a way to have one more last go at saving Myst.

The graphics are, as ever, beautiful to behold. Each of the worlds is rendered in an almost visually impressive photorealistic way. You navigate through each world with both point and click or you can rotate the picture in much the same way as a QuickTime movie. The soundscape remains impressive, as it has done through all the games. So what you have here is a beautiful journey full of puzzles to solve, and thankfully, this time they aren't any of the mind numbing 'makes no sense' types that were found in some of the earlier games.

I'm not really sure that End of Ages brings anything new to the world of Myst; there are a few technical improvements in character animation and general navigation, but overall it's very much like the previous games, which I guess is just what you're looking for if you're a Myst fan.

And now for the bad news: Myst is a pig to get working. I had to try it on three machines to even get it to work half decently. A quick look on the forums showed that there a number of problems with the game, some are problems with Java and some are with the ATI chip set. One machine would not load it at all, another loaded it and the third had the maddening habit of setting the graphics card into an endless loop. Seems the best way to get it to work is to only buy it if your specs completely match that of the game, don't rely on the tool that comes with the game. According to that, all my machines were compatible. Oh and remember to turn everything else off.

Well, at that point, the potential joy of the game is rather out weighed by the pain in trying to get it to work. Now, this is rather strange as all the previous games installed without a hitch, maybe the improvements that have been made to the gameplay was an improvement too many. I doubt that Cyan will issue a patch as they first laid off their workforce only to rehire then, so as a company there seems to be weird things going on there.

So the best advice I can give is to download the free demo and see if that works on your machine, if not you'll know not to buy it. Shame really it would have got a much higher mark if it had ran without so much hassle.

Charles Packer

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