Here's what you get when you order Myst III:
- One thin cardboard box
- One plastic case containing four CDs
- One advertising flyer
No instruction manual, no installation guide, nothing to get you into the spirit of Myst, no handy journal to write down your thoughts, just a CD case rattling around inside a box that is about 10 times larger, by volume, than necessary to hold the case.
So here's my evaluation of the game itself:
- Gameplay: 0/10
- Graphics: 0/10
- Sound: 0/10
- Value: 0/10
The reason for the above ratings is that as far as I can tell, they shipped a set of drink coasters rather than a set of CDs with an actual game on them.
To be more specific, Ubisoft shipped a game with a massive number of crippling bugs. The Safedisc copy protection caused problems with dozens of models of CD-ROM drives - players' CD-ROMs weren't compatible with the purposeful errors caused by SafeDisc, and so they weren't able to play the game at all. Nor could you play the game if your CD-ROM was lettered higher than H: - after all, no one has a drive higher than H:, right? (Ubisoft has released a patch for this problem.) Nor could you play the game in hardware mode if your card doesn't support 32-bit color, even though the game box prominently proclaims support for 16-bit. Many people have also reported problems with choppy/broken video - this problem occurs on numerous different setups and even very fast machines. Most crippling of all, if you have an Intel, S3 or SiS video card or video chipset, your game won't run at all (similar problems have also been reported with several other video chipsets, such as ATI Rage cards).
On a huge number of machines, perhaps a third of all desktops and an even larger percentage of notebooks, all of which nominally support the requirements listed on the box, Myst III simply won't run.
Ubisoft has been stringing customers along about a promised patch for the video problem (no patch is planned for the fact that many of their customers can't use the game due to Safedisc - that's a "feature") - the expected date for the M3 patch (named due to the error message) has slipped four times now, the latest being another week into the future. I've given up and am returning the game. Probably the retailer will throw a fit about taking back an opened box, although, hey, isn't Safedisc supposed to prevent people copying the discs and returning the game, and since the company admits that their game won't run, there would be no point to keeping a copy of the game anyway. I'm now afraid to uninstall the game, since many people have reported the complete destruction of their Windows system upon uninstallation of Myst III. (My source for most user reports are the forums at Rivenguild.com).
Overall, Myst III is a fiasco. You won't see reviews like this one in regular gaming publications, which depend upon pre-releases of games - that review was written before Myst III was officially released, and if a gaming pub. got in the habit of writing bad reviews, the PR people won't send them advance games any more.
I don't really care. What the gaming industry needs is more reviews like the above. Someone didn't spend the time on quality assurance, and it shows. Unless the company gets negative feedback about it, the next game company won't put the time into quality control either. Returns have got to hurt the most for software companies, but they're usually insulated from returns by simply refusing to accept them. Bullshit. If the retailer we bought this from doesn't want it back, I'll see if a suit in small claims court won't change their mind, because selling a "product" that is acknowledged by the manufacturer not to work at all is fraudulent.
I wish all gaming publications would write reviews like this. I know that they encounter problems too, but somehow the problems never get mentioned in the final glowing review, where every game ever made rates between an 8.5 and 9.5 on a ten-point scale (except maybe games reviewed by Old Man Murray). Tell us about the problems, game reviewers. It'll make for better games in the long run.