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Background and System Spec
Pioneering is a new game from thehistoryforge.com which places the player in the mid 1770s during the time of the American War of Independence. Employing the now familiar first person perspective, the aim of this RPG is to accept missions from people in order to build your character into a successful pioneer.
Developing your character means gathering as much wealth and property as possible, keeping a high conscience and not dying. You Pioneering gives you 3 lives to begin, no cash, a health score of 500 and a conscience of 400.
No information is available on the system spec of Pioneering - it has been tested here on a PC equipped with a Pentium 4, 1GB of RAM and a 512MB video card.
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Pioneering uses the traditional FPS method of controlling a character by using the mouse + arrow keys (or WASD). This method should see you safely through the game environment – unfortunately this is far from the case. Pioneer has a bizarre habit of killing you while you're going about your business, possibly due to some schoolboy-error collision detection, or possibly just to make the game even tougher.
The difficulty level of Pioneering is compounded by the initial feeling that gameplay is simplistic. As is the style of many character-based games, Pioneering requires missions to be completed in order to award the most basic equipment such as guns, but getting to and from these missions is tough enough, given the visual issues and the bizarre way of losing a life. A weapon of “punch” is as far as many players are likely to get before switching the game off in frustration.
Given that there are different ways to complete the game - including achieving a high conscience score and purchasing a lot of property - the early frustration with this game ruins what could be a valuable gaming experience if only it had been tested further.
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Sound and Graphics
Graphically, Pioneering is relatively basic. With no option to alter the visual quality, it plays with a few shadows that can't easily be brightened – this makes the in game world difficult to navigate. In fact getting out of the village is almost impossible even after a mission has been accepted.
Characters are designed pretty much identically, and both men and women have the posture of a body builder. I know pioneers were hardy settlers, but by accepting a mission to rescue a farmers daughter who looks like she can handle herself makes the character design unintentionally hilarious.
As with the graphics, there is no option to alter the sound settings – meaning you're limited to an endless stream of banjo music.
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Available for $6.95 (or $6, depending on which page you go to on the website), the price is a good reason to get a copy of this game. However after trying the demo (which I would strongly recommend) even this price might seem a bit steep.
Pioneering is an independent title, and while the concept is good and the aim of providing true historical fact as part of the game (possibly with the by-product of teaching children about the early days of America) as an attempt to educate through videogames should be lauded, Pioneering simply doesn't cut the mustard.
While the system spec is low enough to be run on the older PCs often found in schools, sadly Pioneering is just dull.