Ring 2 - Twilight of the Gods
A preview by slydos, 07th November 2002
While the first part deals with nebulous themes (the origin of the word Nibelung actually is Nebel = engl. fog) like the beginning of the world, the heist of the Rhinegold, the creation out of this gold and finally execration of the powerful Ring through the Nibelung Alberich, and about the gods, dwarves, giants, Rhine daughters and such stuff, therefore in the second part the rather sturdy story of the Nibelungs, half gods and humans has to be told.
For all, who remember the Nibelungenlied from German lessons in school - Wagner referred during his adaption of the Nibelungensage only partially to the German originals and took the predominant part of his story from the Scandinavian sagas. Therefore there are in the wagnerian version many differences in story and of course - to make the confusion complete, also in the names of the protagonists. (For example Siegfried in the Middle High German version does not know Brunnhild, before he comes to Gunther's court - in the Scandinavian legend the two were a pair before and Siegfried had already bestowed his beloved the "Ring" as engagement gift, what also explains the later implications more logically.) Arxel Tribe sticks with Wagner's model, which represents a mixture of the German and Scandinavian legends. This must be said to all, who should have another version of the plot in their memorys.
In this preview I refer to the English-language version of the demo, which can be downloaded from the homepage. Meanwhile there is also a German version with 170 MB size.
As to the prehistory of the demo version:
After the "Ring" was removed by Wotan from Alberich, it arrived in the hands of the giant Fafner, who then guards it in shape of a dragon (that's a longer story). Both, the Nibelung Alberich and Wotan, want to regain the Ring now out of different motives.
With a human woman from the clan of the Wälsungs god Wotan conceived the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde, because he needed a substitute on earth, who would be able to free the world from the "Ring". (he couldn't do it himself, since he would then have to break the contract with Fafner). The twins were kidnapped and separated as babies. Sieglinde was married to Hunding, but Siegmund met her again, fell in love and conceived a child with her. At the same time he acquired the hero-sword Nothung placed by Wotan in the tree in Sieglinde's hut. Wotan wanted to protect Siegmund, however his wife Fricka discovered this and required retribution for the wrong adultery and incest by the death of the twins. One must obey laws and contracts, so Wotan assigned his daughter, the Valkyrie Brunnhild to bring death to Siegmund in combat. She however finally took pity and could at least save the pregnant woman Sieglinde from pursuit by Hunding and Wotan.
Wotan punished Brunnhild's disobedience by transferring her into sleep, with the default, that she must become wife of the first man, who awakes her. But Wotan surrounded the sleeping Brunnhild with a fire ring, so that only a hero without fear could awake her. This courageous hero is of course Siegmund's and Sieglinde's son - Siegfried!
Siegfried was raised after Sieglinde's death by the blacksmith Mime, likewise a dwarf as his Nibelung brother Alberich, and as his brother representing the "dark side of power". Siegfried succeeded in reforging the sword of his father - Nothung - which was broken into peaces in the last fight and thus defeated the giant/dragon Fafner, who guarded the treasure of the Nibelungs inclusive ring and magic-cap. After he killed the dragon and bathed in his blood, he could not only read thoughts of other people but also understand the language of the birds. When Siegfried took a rest and looked for a friend, a small bird told him that there would be a rock surrounded by fire where Brunhild was sleeping.
Here the demo version begins. Siegfried is outside of a guarded fortress, which he must enter. There is a rock cave, which is equipped with many traps and the mentioned fire ditch in a magic mountain. After Siegfried can defeat Wotan himself, who opposes him with his spear, he turns to the sleeping Brunhild ...
Contrary to Ring 1 the second part is an adventure in 3rd-person-perspective. You have to use your keyboard to move your hero around. I had to find the key allocation for myself for this demo. Beside the arrow keys - the shift key lets him run faster - there is a set of letter keys with which one can e.g. step to the side or which can pull your sword and put it back again. Also jump and defense movements can be done. The controls need some customization, particularly, because Siegfried can often be seen only as a tiny manikin in the wide landscape and now and then simply disappears behind a wood pile and stays there forever because you can't maneuver him out again. Also the frequent change of perspective makes problems, if you want Siegfried to walk to a certain point at the screen. A handy feature is however that he ducks automatically and hides, when the enemy approaches. But if you navigate him intentionally toward a guard, then he is defeated and dies - despite the miracle sword Nothung and his bath in the dragon's blood (illogical).
He can also die in -, what I would call jump&run scenes. Here he must walk or run out of the way of deadly devices with good timing. In the demo he can also die during the quite briefly measured decoding puzzle at Brunhild's sarkophag. I assume that there will be more combat scenes in this game, however the combat scene with Wotan ran off absolutely automatically without my help. Thus it remains open, how many action/jump&run scenes we'll actually have to face in the end.
As Siegfried, according to the legend, is nearly invincible and possesses some supernatural forces in addition, such sequences might actually not be a problem at all for him!? In the demo version Siegfried could also take up an object into the inventory and use it, while the puzzle was quite imaginative but logically solvable. Inventory items are visible at the top of the screen. If you take a closer look at certain areas to manipulate them for example, you always change from 3rd-person into 1st-person-view and can accomplish the necessary actions with the mouse, which you will use in these places automatically and intuitively.
Ring 2 is also a 3D game. Landscapes and buildings appear dark and archaic, extremely exciting accompanied by Wagner's dramatic music. Siegfried and the other characters resemble very much the characters in King Arthur's Knights 1 + 2, at least Siegfried's red body painting reminded of Bradwen. However the 3D-characters in Ring 2 are more clumsy and Siegfried moves less limber than Bradwen. His arms don't hang down from the body in a realistic way but stick out from the shoulders, even during repose. Looks rather dollish than natural. Mimic and lip movements are missing during the conversation with Wotan.
One reaches the main menu with F1. Here you can - apart from the usual functions - recall the story of Siegfried until present. But it is described more poetically and less clearly, than I did that above.
You can probably save games without restriction - together with a small picture of the scene and your own text inputs.
I'm of course very curious, how Arxel Tribe converted the complex material of Wagner's operas and how much I will recognize from it. Unfortunately the handling shows again the well-known problems with 3D-keyboard-controls, the character disappears suddenly in the off and changes of view make orientation difficult. The story lets however assume, that Siegfried won't have to fight too much but may face various difficult tasks of fast reaction and perhaps more time-dependent puzzles. That will surely deter some friends of the first part, who expected a pure adventure game. However I do find the representation method in 3rd-person-perspective not only suitable but necessary, because what would be this game if you couldn't watch the greatest hero of all in person, who is capable of more things than all gods together?
adventurearchiv - 07-10-02