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Screenshot from Myst
Online Uru Live
That game was developed by Rand and Robyn Miller, a team of brothers who were among the first to delve into the CD-ROM realm of game production in the early 1990s. Remember back then: trading bootleg copies of "Doom 2" on eight 3.5-inch floppy disks? Calling the Web the Net? Jams, the shorts, not the bands?
"Myst" came in and wowed the world with 3D graphics and non-stupid sound.
Based ever-so-loosely on Jules Verne's work "The Mysterious Island," the dense game offered a slowly unraveling story line that was akin to watching the early seasons of "The X-Files."
It was cutting-edge in 1993.
Now, creators are trying to milk every last dime of the franchise by creating a Massive Multi-player Online Role-Playing Game.
Last week, GameTap released the MMORPG, titled "Myst Online Uru Live."
Now, with a monthly GameTap subscription, you can plunge knee-deep in the puzzling story line with your monkey troop of sudoku addicts.
After a dozen years to work on it, the Miller boys have created as dense and impenetrable a story as the true greats of mindless self-importance. Think Anne Rice or David Baldacci.
Just look to the pretentious moniker, "Myst Online Uru Live." This tag has the grace and majesty of renaming the country "America Landmass with People All of the Time."
OK, now for the game.
Unlike the first iteration, "Uru" is a third-person experience. Once logged in, players choose a contemporary look and are transported to their own little house on the prairie. With the home base, they can then head off to other parts of the world.
Travel in the game is done through "linking books," which instantaneously whisk players to other locations. It's the lame real- life metaphor for a book transporting you to another world.
But even with all the silliness, there are some good ideas percolating under the surface.
Players can create their own neighborhoods and invite friends to hang out before heading out to solve puzzles and such. There is also a single-player option that allow Myst-ers to roam on their own. Some of the problems with other MMORPGs stem from not having enough friends to do anything.
But all said, this isn't a game I'll be spending more time with. I never held a huge torch for the "Myst" franchise. I dug the first game's puzzle structure, but I thought the sequels were ho-hum. Continuing the series gives it the feel of the later works of Orson Welles. I want to remember "Citizen Kane," not the three or four guest spots that Welles did on "Magnum P.I."
"Uru Live" will be an offering on GameTap, Turner Broadcasting's subscription game service. Combined with a game franchise that has been actively seeking to take our money with sequel after sequel, I'm not seeing very much promise in this new offering.
That leaves me a little — wait for it — Myst-y.
(c) 2007, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).
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