I have started playing this game and wanted to give my thoughts. I am about 1/2 of the way through and will finish my review in a few days when I have finished the game.
First of all, the Bard in this game is very different from the Bard in the other games (well at least I think he is since the Bard in the other games doesn't talk and I picture him as a hero). This Bard is a bit of a rude jerk. Generally you have two dialogue choices when interacting with other characters. These are the "nice" choice and the "snarky" choice. Nice is usually mildly mean and snarky is usually very mean. However, even though you may not like the Bard all the much because he's not your typical hero, the dialogue is quite funny. There is also a narrating voice that says things as you go around doing quests and he's pretty funny too.
The combat system is a little annoying. You can choose between bows, double handed weapons, flails, dual wield (sword and dirk) or classic sword and shield. Bows are the best because you can shoot at enemies off the screen and they will not react. However this feels like cheating and I wish they would have programmed the AI with enough sense to charge you when being attacked from off the screen. Dual wielding is ok, but the Bard goes into these long combo strings if you hit the attack button more than once. So many times you kill the enemy and the Bard keeps swinging away for as many as 4 more attacks. He looks like a fool when he is still attacking and the enemy is dead and 2 steps behind him. Classic sword and shield is a bit awkward too. There is a slight pause between when you press the attack or defend button and when he actually does it. I would like to see the controls be more responsive. I have not tried flails or double handed weapons, but will try to get to them before the end of the game so I can report on whether I like them any better.
The other aspect of combat is your summoned allies. The Bard's main talent is picking up magical tunes that allow him to summon allies. They all have strengths and weaknesses so you have to decide which ones are best for which situations. The game is done well in this aspect.
The sound and graphics in this game are ok. I have no complaints other than the sound in chapter 2 near the river. I had to turn down SFX volume in the options because next to the river I could not hear the dialogue because the river was too loud.
I would recommend this game for anyone with an Xbox, PS2 or XBox 360 since you can find it on Amazon and other sites for around $12. While this game is very different from the other Bard's Tale games, it's always nice to round out a series. The Bard of this game does reference the other games here and there, with lines such as "I know all about evil wizards and cities locked in eternal winter".
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