Prince of Qin

Something got lost in translation.

5_1Drawing upon the history of the Qin Empire in China (221 B.C. to 206 B.C.), the game has you playing Prince Fu Su, son of the dynasty’s First Emperor. Political turmoil erupts after your old man dies, with the country’s Chief Eunuch and Prime Minister conspiring to forge an imperial edict ordering the prince to commit suicide (which historically he did, paving the way for a puppet regime). Here, the premise is that Fu Su rejects the decree, and escapes to the countryside to plot his return to power. This is where your quest for revenge starts.

Though you start with just Fu Su, you have the opportunity to acquire up to four additional traveling companions. There are five professions: Wizards, Musclemen, Assassins, Witches, and Paladins (Fu Su is the latter). Stats are of the garden variety, and level advancement is the usual matter of killing this and delivering that, with an unexceptional storyline sandwiched between much gratuitous hacking, slashing, and running all over creation.

My Chin is Strong

One place the game shines is in combat, which is heavily influenced by kung fu movies. As you gain new skills (unique to each character class), you can perform outlandish stunts such as summoning fire dragons or leaping dozens of feet in the air to head-stomp your opponents. Which is pretty awesome. But it’s not enough to rescue the game from some serious flaws.

For one thing, there’s the translation — the very awful translation. Recommendation to developer: hire a writer to eliminate such gems as “you’d better not invite death†or “worried as a distressed dog who has lost its shelter.†They’re accepted (for some reason) in eccentric games like the Final Fantasy series, but too much dramatic poise is lost here. The voice-acting is especially onerous: from a cast of dozens, you get maybe three or four repeat performers doing a hammy job with weird faux-British accents. The manual is pretty weak as well – packed though it may be with jumbled historical details, it is unfortunately missing basic descriptions of how several game functions work.

9_1Other issues on the unpatched version include a buggy automap, a quest log that occasionally neglects to notate key information; event-trigger bugs that muck up chronology; and a quest system that’s ridiculously unbalanced in its rewards.

Don’t be fooled by the game’s billing as a “historical Diablo.†It’s not a Diablo of any shape or form, lacking both that title’s polish and compulsivity. Instead, what you get with Prince of Qin is a mediocre romp through a muddled story, with acceptable breaks for engaging combat.

System Requirements: Pentium II 266 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 1 GB HDD, Win ME

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