To begin with, there were things I liked about this game and things that took away from the enjoyment. This made the difference between what could have been a really great game and just an OK game for me.
I liked the story-it kept me interested throughout and made me want to keep playing to see what happens next. You play as Nina during the first half of the game. She lives in Germany. her father, a famous Russian scientist, has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. She begins to find out about his research into the mystery of the gigantic explosion that happened in 1908 in the Tunguska region of Syberia. Nina's search takes her from her home in Germany to Moscow,then on the Trans-Syberian Express,to "the forbidden zone"in the Tunguska region, Cuba,China in the Himalayas, and a huge research station in Antarctica. She has an interested friend, who had worked with her father: Max. He's her age and provides a little romantic interest as well as help with the search. Further along in the story you play as Max, who follows up a clue in Ireland, and becomes involved in Antactica.
There are some mysterious shadowy characters that pop up in cut scenes-a sinister, controlling corporate type in a penthouse and some creepy looking figures in black robes. They keep you guessing about what roles they play and there are some twists and turns where you don't know who are friends and who are enemies-just to make things interesting.
I thought the locations were well done and nicely detailed. There was variety and plenty of different screens to explore.There were different weather conditions-I especially liked Ireland with the thunder and rain. There were ambient sound effects throughout: creaking, rumbling machinery, train noises, canned music noises, distant conversations,traffic,ect.
Most of the puzzles are inventory based with just a few brain teaser puzzles. There are no mazes or sliders. Sometimes the inventory items actually made sense and it was easy to see where they fit. Sometimes you could get it by just clicking on every combination until something matched up. A nice feature is the "hot spot finder" which you can enable or disable: After you've explored a screen you can click on a magnifying glass and it will highlite all the things you havn't found yet, so you know you've got everything you need. Some may not like this, but I find it very confusing to have to backtrack and try to find items that are missing-as I readily forget where I've been.Another feature is the diary which gives a summary of the important events in the story as you go along. It also has a hint page for the puzzles, if you want to use it.
There was only one puzzle that didn't make any sense at all-the compass puzzle in the house in the forest. Even the walkthru didn't explain how they found the answer.
Now for the part that detracted from an otherwise really good game: the character acting. The first thing I noticed: Nina grew up in Russia and has Russian parents but she talks just like Nancy Drew-as American as apple pie! Her friend Max is German-he talks-and acts- like a typical American teenager. In Cuba, all the characters who live there sound and act like they live in California. In Ireland, even the bartender dosn't have an Irish accent!The Russian train driver has a Brooklyn accent. It's the details like this that make the difference between a classic that will be remembered and played for a few years to come or just a regular game that is played once and forgotten.
I played the DVD version that is included in "volume one Adventure Collection". It installed and played smoothly with no problems except for just a few times in certain locations a sort of stuttering happened when a character talked.
I will give this one a B-