King's Quest V. (computer adventure game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Rick Broida
Sierra On-Line earns the "At Least We Tried" award for the Amiga version of King's Quest V. The game includes significant advances in graphics and sound for Sierra, but it suffers from sluggish performance.
Taken at face value, King's Quest V, like most of Sierra's interactive adventures, provides challenging, thoughtful fun. The story is simple: King Graham, the beleaguered hero of King's Quest I--IV fame, returns from a leisurely stroll one day to find that his castle has vanished--and his family along with it. The only one who can shed any light on the mystery is Cedric, an owl who hoots that he "saw the whole thing." Together, they set out to reclaim the king's home and family from the evil wizard Mordack.
A variety of interesting, unusual, and relatively easy puzzles stand between the adventuring companions and their goal, but unfortunately, the game is more a test of patience than of problem-solving skills. The software runs sluggishly at best on a 68000 Amiga. Some screens run smoothly and at an acceptable pace, but others, particularly those with multiple animated characters, are downright torpid.
Mechanically, the game works splendidly. As in Sierra's latest IBM titles, the command line interface has been replaced in King's Quest V with mouse-driven commands. Clicking the right mouse button toggles between various icons representing various actions, like walking or speaking. Clicking the left mouse button initiates that action. This new scheme changes the style of the game somewhat, but it's a change for the better. Learning the mouse interface is a breeze, and in the end it makes the game flow more smoothly.
Graphically, King's Quest V is at least twice as good as its predecessors. Sierra's labors to replace the IBM EGA-style 16-color graphics of the past with sharper, more detailed 32-color artwork have for the most part paid off. Some scenes look dull and washed-out, but in comparison with earlier efforts such as King's Quest IV, the overall improvement is striking. Music and sound effects have also been improved somewhat.
Sadly, even with the retooled interface and upgraded audiovisual attributes, King's Quest V is so slow that it becomes difficult to enjoy. And if you don't have a hard drive, forget it. Ironically, Sierra halted production of the game last year in order to improve the animation speed and disk access, but the result is hardly worth the wait. Sierra says the company is making "incremental improvements" in its Amiga titles. In the case of King's Quest V, it's too little, too late. If you own an Amiga with a processor faster than a 7.14-MHz 68000, you'll enjoy the game's enhanced graphics and intriguing challenges. But for the rest of us, King's Quest V leaves something to be desired. Namely, a little alacrity.