First of all, let's start with a link:
Games as Art
I'm generally skeptical of the concept. Games, to be games, are necessarily entertainment, but I don't generally expect art to entertain me. On the other hand, sometimes it does, and much art is made for ulterior motives besides just desire to make art. All the games it discusses are relatively recent. Which reminds me, one thing I think of when I think of art is the concept of purposeful limitation--choosing to write a sonnet because the limitations of the form forces originality. But to my knowledge, game designers don't normally choose platforms that are limiting because of the limitations.
Back to the blog! I've combined these two days because, like the last two, I can't think of anything really exciting about the dungeons involved. There were two--Wrong and Shame. Actually, there were a lot of neat details in Shame. Wrong was also pretty creative, in that being touched by a guard in this prison (quickie backstory--Raven's falsely accused; you must rescue her) sends you back to a jail cell without your equipment. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for said guards, it was not hard to sneak up behind them and kill them pretty rapidly! Wrong is overall pretty small in size, but there's large numbers of doors between the discrete chunks of the dungeon, and it is maze-like despite the small size.
Escaping feels sort of exciting, because Wrong has a fortress surrounding its entrance, and a gigantic bridge separates you from he mountains nearby, so looking over the edge of the fortress walls seeing a bridge disappear in the mist is pretty cool.
Getting to and from Wrong is a bit of a nuisance, since there's a lot of mountains. On the way there I stopped and picked up the Quill of Justice (an odd sigil!) from a big static bird of some kind, who asked me some very dubious justice questions. The one that bothered me the most asked if it was just to hunt down a wolf who had killed a child; it claims the answer is no because it's unjust to kill a wolf merely for being a wolf. This seems incoherent, because since anything a human does is being human, it would seem that punishing someone for his crimes would also be unjust, for the same reasons. Moreover, if killing a wolf because it is dangerous is unjust, wouldn't it be even more unjust to kill, say, a corn stalk merely because you want some popcorn?
After cleansing the shrine of Justice (and clearing Raven's name, and handing off the gargoyle queen egg to Vasagralem), I hit the sea to Trinsic. The dungeon shame is one of the most fun in the game, but since it's all a series of puzzles (and lots of eyeballs with squishy eyeball noises), I don't think I'll go into much detail. The Trinsic quest proves to be probably the most compelling in the game--Blackthorn accosts you in Shame, and destroys the Sigil of Honor; however, you learn that the sigils themselves are irrelevent and merely embody the virtuous energy of the townsfolk. By risking his life to defend others, the cup of honor is re-grown. I have never much liked honor--it seems like it depends on the other virtues, such that something that is unvirtuous is necessarily dishonorable (I think U4 may agree with me here). But that is higher criticism! The way honor is used here is pretty good, though it would have been a bit more compelling had Dupre not shown up to explain everything in detail, like the guy at the end of a TV show who explains the moral of the episode.
Now, on to comments. I got some weird ones. Two people said that changing the name of the gargoyle city to something gargish instead of Ambrosia would be highly un-canonical. This I don't understand. Why would the gargoyles, acting out of racial pride, choose a name for their great city that has nothing to do with gargoyles? Mjs says that the blog was more fun to read before the U9 hate. I didn't think I was particularly hateful towards the game--in the last post I praised the music; in other places I said the dungeons were well designed. Most of U9's problems are based on the disjointedness of the quest (being rewritten at least twice definitely did not help matters here) and the fact that it's been dumbed-down to not intimidate new players.
If you discount the crashes and another annoyances, it's not a terrible game, it's just a dissapointing end to an otherwise (well, mostly) fine series. I don't "hate" the game, because it doesn't make sense to hate a video game.
Also, I agree with Justin, who says the original Guardian-homeworld plot would have been good. I agree, but I don't think it would have been appropriate for the final game in the series. At that point, of course, it wasn't conceived as being the final game! I tend to think the famous Bob White plot is way, way too epic to possibly work and be believable. You would have been stuck on a linear course worse than anything in the present U9 or Serpent Isle. The present ending is pretty good--the Avatar makes the ultimate sacrifice for Britannians who have realized they must be self-sufficient, British finally admits he really needs to get out and do things, etc. There are a lot of things that disappointed me (Blackthorn proving that mercy is stupid, for example), but even with something like the present plot the game could have been good with proper execution, and had it not been restarted so often.