I´m normally a strategy gamer, but the Myst series is simply breathtakingly beautiful. The first Myst suffered from slideshow-like pacing, and the sequel (Riven) went overboard on the obscure puzzles.
The developers definitely listened to feedback before going on to Exile, and it shows in just about any way you can imagine.
The graphics are jaw-dropping. I have a GEforce 3 in my system, and the full 360-around-plus-up-and-down is quick, smooth, and stunning. The stained glass windows shine, the plants glisten, the water ripples with both reflections and submerged items visible. I had people watching over my shoulder in awe as I played, eager to see what else they managed to do with this game.
Video is seamlessly integrated. I´m not just talking "little-person-talking-in-box". I´m talking about being able to look around while a woman is talking to you, and having her visible out of the corner of your eye, merrily bouncing her baby. Things that seem part of the environment suddenly zoom up into the air. Just WAIT until you get to ride the sphere-roller-coaster. I replayed that one many times just to marvel at it.
The music is stellar. The puzzles are much better balanced than in the previous versions - and there are enough hints and ´training´ objects lying around that most of them should be pretty straightforward. In a few it´s hard to figure out what the puzzle IS, so it takes some trial and error to figure out just what you´re looking at before you can even start to figure out what you need to do. That´s a gripe with just about every puzzle game on the market, though, so Myst does the best it can here.
Is there a downside? Well, the game isn´t entirely stable. I have a pretty good system here, fast and used often, and I did have the game crash on me. Save early, save often. The 360-view isn´t exactly ´real world´ - it´s more like being inside a sphere that has something painted on it. Everything is always exactly in the same relationship to each other no matter how you turn. The graphics are so gorgeous, though, that it doesn´t really seem to matter.
Other than that, the game lets you work at your own pace, gives you challenges, gives you clues to those challenges, and provides incredible gameplay for people of all ages and abilities. This is about the best ´buy for anyone, they´ll love it´ game I can recommend. Be sure to get one for yourself, too!
Buy Myst 3 at Amazon.Com
Myst 3: Exile Complete Walkthrough