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Spiderweb Software: Geneforge 3 RPG: Use Magic, Create Creatures to Explore World

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SpiderWeb Software's Geneforge series allows you to play the role of a Shaper, a wizard who can create and alter creatures to aid them. Geneforge III is the latest in that series of games. You start out as an apprentice Shaper in a school when it is suddenly attacked and all of your teachers are killed. Escape from the school and solve the mystery of the rogue creatures taking over the island.

Geneforge III is shareware with a large free demo. The game is complex, with a large world and interwoven plot. There are many possible quests, you can choose which of several sides to join, and several possible outcomes. Like many of Spiderweb's games, you decide whether you have 'won' or not.

Gameplay is fun, mirroring many RPGs with turn-based combat. You can interact with NPCs, convince some to join you, cast spells, and create creatures. Unlike many computer RPGs, 'soft' ability scores, like Intelligence and Leadership, actually matter in the game and can launch you onto different side quests. Your character can focus on creating creatures, using spells, combat, or some combination. I usually like to play creature-heavy characters, myself. When you reach certain areas in te game, it politely tells you that you need a registration code to continue.

At $25 ($32 with a hint book), the game is a bargain, especially in a try-before-you-buy format. Registration is fast, painless, and easy. Copy protection is minimal and non-intrusive. And, best of all, the game does not nag you.

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