The Myst series has dominated the ‘when-is-this-going-to-end-adventure’ genre for over a decade, and the fourth incarnation has just been released. However, during those eleven years, the gaming world has changed - GTA came out, then Goldeneye took over on consoles, and people generally stopped playing mathematical puzzles on their PCs. Nevertheless, gaming evolution has taken a step back thanks to Ubisoft and the all-girl team that developed the latest version, those puzzles are back.
Myst IV continues the story from the previous three games, but it is not essential to have played them to follow this. There is a strong narrative so it is crucial not to go off and make a phone call during the cut scenes, which take up most of the game - and my hard drive. For the full install, Myst IV will eat into your computer’s hard disk taking 8GB and equalling Uureal Tournament 2004 plus expansion packs. However, like UT 2004, it’s worth it - the graphics are fantastic and really take you out of your living room and into a different world. Water effects are very realistic as are birds, and all surfaces seem 3D - you soon realise why it all takes 8GB.
The game uses advanced animation techniques to seamlessly place real actors into a computer-generated world. The music is great - fitting to each scene and has been clearly thought out. The sound effects are very clever - depending to the direction you are looking when being spoken to, you hear a voice talking out of one speaker, the other, or both, at varying degrees. This creates a kind of surround sound effect and really does add to the realism greatly.
If you like puzzles and brain teasers then this is the game for you - it is littered with them. They are essentially the game-play. They can be great fun, and really absorbing. When solved they evoke two emotions - satisfaction at having solve it, and anger at having spend half an hour trying to do something so simple.
Ultimately, it’s not Grand Theft Auto, and it’s not trying to be. This game takes a lot of time - don’t sit down for “a quick five minutes” because you will be there for three hours. It grows on you, and I now actually enjoy playing it…as apposed to constantly trying to find the ‘speed up gameplay’ option. As a game however, it is almost flawless, and is a fantastic addition to the already highly successful series.