Dungeons & Dragons: The Temple of Elemental Evil -- A Classic Greyhawk Adventure Review
By Dwayne Baird |
The Temple of Elemental Evil: A Classic Greyhawk Adventure (ToEE) is more than just a mouthful to say -- it's the first RPG to be based on the new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rules. As it's based on a classic Gary Gygax module from the '80s, ToEE has a lot to live up to. Translating such a well-known adventure, especially one originally written by the creator of D&D, is a tasks that's ripe with pressure...and I'm happy to report that Troika did a good job at pulling off that lofty task.
While the Troika team did take a few liberties with side quests and expanding the village of Hommlet a great deal to offer up more gameplay possibilities, for the most part the digital version of ToEE plays out very similarly to the classic module. You'll already recognize a lot of the locations and characters if you're familiar with the original, such as the seedy town of Nulb, the noble Burne and the drunken Elmo, and the locations in the game even resemble some of the drawings included in the original module. While the story isn't really all that deep, I can say that the digital version of ToEE lives up to the fame of the original pen-and-paper module (Why do they call it pen-and-paper by the way? Does anybody really play tabletop D&D with a pen?). But I can't really fault Troika for the lack of deep storyline since the original module was more of a dungeon crawl "hack-n-slash everything die" type affair.
The ToEE module was massive adventure, and the computer game lives up to that legacy as well. As you would imagine, there are an overwhelming number of people to converse and interact with, and the game is packed with thousands and thousands of lines of dialogue, especially when you consider they're tailored to alignment and even intelligence. You can expect some very different options if you initiate a conversation with a player character who's a bit dim-witted, such as responding to someone who says "You shant regret this" with "Me not even gret once yet."
Like the aforementioned conversation, the folks at Troika have included their own brand of humor seen in their previous effort Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura and of course in the Fallout series which, although not technically a Troika game, shares many of the same development members. One of the funnier bits involves the NPC bard Zaxis, who sings all of his dialogue in an off-key warble. He's not the bravest bard in the band, and he adds a bit of wussy lightheartedness to your adventures in the sinister, evil temple by singing such lines as "This is a big room...this can't be good" while you're exploring.
In an interesting twist, you begin the game by choosing a general alignment for your entire party, and depending on your party's alignment, you can only choose characters appropriate for that group. For example, a true and just Paladin won't group with an assemblage looking to loot and pillage everyone in sight, and an evil half-orc barbarian wants nothing to do with a group of goodie two-shoes looking to plant daisies and save the world.