Restricted Area

Review

posted 7/12/2005 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
In typical RPG fashion, monsters die, experience builds up, and characters advance in levels. Levelling is rewarded by attribute bonuses and advancement points to be spent on the characters’ skill trees. Each character has two trees, one generic tree available to all characters and a special tree. Generic skills focus on things like increased speed, simple weapon efficiency, and better item finding ability. The character-specific trees were much more interesting. Heavy Weapons Guy specializes in, well, bigger and better weapons, such as the flame-thrower and plasma gun. In addition, he gets several flavors of grenade to help round things out. In contrast, Psi-Girl gets a host of magic-like abilities, such as self-healing and stunning or damaging enemies with her thoughts. Hacker Gal gets to increase her abilities in Cyberspace, a separate world that only she can enter. In addition, she can upgrade her robot into a truly frightening death machine. At higher levels each of the characters has a very unique feel which encourages multiple plays.

Unfortunately, characters need to slog through a great deal of similar-looking dungeon in order to gain these levels. Repetitive gamely is to be expected in this type of game, but Restricted Area goes a bit too far. Players have a base of operations, complete with doctor, arms dealer, and a smattering of other NPC characters. From here, players can sign on for one of the (surprisingly few) main-story missions, or one of the random (and quite necessary) side missions. Missions all seem to boil down to a few variations on a theme. Characters are dropped off in a small wilderness/wasteland map, whereupon they need to fight their way into the underground area. Each underground area is a randomly-generated twisting of passages and monsters, usually about 2-4 levels deep. At the bottom level is the target, which needs to be retrieved or killed, depending on the type of mission. Once the target is dealt with, characters can instantly zip back to town to pick up the reward. Except for a few main-story levels, there’s way too much repetition in the mission designs. When coupled with the limited monster and item variety, things can get a little dull.

Restricted Area looks decent, with a slick 2D engine keeping everything flowing very smoothly, even when the screen is flooded with monsters. Characters and enemies are fairly well animated, although some of the attack animations seem a bit off. Weapon effects are solid, and enemies take wounds in satisfyingly gory fashion. Once again, though, repetitiveness is the bane of this game. Dungeon levels are all too similar; there are too few monster and item types to keep things looking fresh and interesting. The game’s audio falls into this same pit, with some rather uninteresting combat sounds and some fairly atrocious voice acting and dialogue.

Although there was a great deal of repetition and “sameness” to the game, Restricted Area did manage to keep my attention for much longer than I had initially anticipated. There’s just something addictive to me about the Diablo-esque style of game, and Restricted Area manages to capture that feeling fairly well. Although I would have greatly appreciated some more variety in the monsters, dungeons, and goodies, I ended up enjoying my post-apocalyptic romp. Restricted Area isn’t a great game by any means, but this non-fantasy action RPG might appeal to those willing to overlook the game’s shortcomings.



D
A post-apocalyptic action RPG with too much repetition. Still, a fair bit of fun for those wanting a non-fantasy Diablo-esque game.


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