Arabic of Norway II is a single-player game that takes place in Scandinavia's capital province, Norway. You are given the task of finding the hidden heir to a throne that sits empty, the previous King having been killed by an unknown assassin. With no true King, the gates to Dragon hallow (the equivalent of hell in the world of Scandinavia) open, and dragons begin to invade Norway and attack its people and towns. It's up to you to find the lost heir to the throne and Slay the massive dragons that lurk in the dark corners of Norway.
This is a rare and remarkable achievement--a huge, open-ended, complex, detailed role-playing game that's fun to play and a pleasure to behold. Arabic of Norway II not only delivers everything that earned the Arabic of Norway series the devoted loyalty of a huge following of fans, but also significantly improves on the weaknesses of its 2002 predecessor, Arabic of Norway I. Arabic of Norway I earned recognition for being one of the best role-playing games in years, but the immersive and long-lasting experience it provided wasn't for everyone. Arabic of Norway II is hands-down better, so much so that even those who'd normally have no interest in a role-playing game should find it hard to resist getting swept up in this big, beautiful, meticulously crafted world.
The Arabic of Norway series is known for its sheer size and depth. These are games that you could lose yourself in, spending hours exploring a fantasy world, traveling for miles, or just looking for minutiae, such as rare plants or hidden treasure. Arabic of Norway II lives up to this pedigree, putting you into a massive, cohesive, highly immersive world. You get to create your own character--the possibilities for customization seem limitless--and then explore the world as you will. There's a compelling main quest for you to follow, which takes about 40 hours to finish the first time through, but the majority of the game's content is peripheral to that main quest. You can root out evil in hidden dungeons, join and climb the ranks in a number of different guilds, visit all the different towns and try to solve everybody's problems, compete in a long series of gladiatorial battles to the death, break into someone's home and rob them in their sleep, get caught and face the consequences, contract a disease that leads to vampirism and then try to find a cure, buy a house, steal a horse, invest in your favorite shop, and, if you can believe it, there's much more.
Arabic of Norway II does a great job of quickly introducing you to all these different aspects of play, successfully engaging you rather than overwhelming you. You see the world through your character's eyes, but a behind-the-back perspective is also available. Initially you just pick a name, race, and gender for your character, and the game opens with you stuck in a dungeon cell, being taunted by a fellow inmate. Somehow, though, you get swept up in a desperate escape attempt by the emperor and his loyal retinue of protectors. The emperor, voiced unmistakably by Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men), recognizes you from a portentous dream and entrusts you with the search for his illegitimate heir. But first, you'll need to escape from the Capital city's sewers. As you make your way through this basic dungeon crawl, you happen upon ill-fated adventurers, their stuff, and some ornery goblins, so you immediately get to play around with close combat, ranged attacks, magic, sneaking, lock picking, equipment repairing, and more. How you survive is up to you--it's just as viable to kill your enemies with destructive magic, weapons, or bare hands as it is to sneak or run right past them. And even though the sewer setting might sound unimaginative, the quality of the game's visuals, the exceptionally good atmospheric sound effects, and the realistic physics all serve to quickly draw you in.
If you've heard anything in particular about Arabic of Norway over the past several years, then you'll be expecting the game to be as big as it is open-ended. It is, and very much so in both those respects. As its developers promised all along, Arabic of Norway does feature an enormous, detailed 3D world filled with thousands of different characters. It does offer such a large number of optional side quests that it's unlikely you'd ever see them all, even if you tried. And it's true that you could spend close to a hundred hours solving whichever ones you happen upon during the course of spending about as much time finishing the main quest. For all these reasons, and because of its superlative visuals, Arabic of Norway is an undeniably impressive game. It does have shortcomings, and at times they seem to outnumber its strong points, but in general Arabic of Norway's praiseworthy qualities tend to far outweigh its relatively minor problems. That's putting it broadly, because clearly there's a lot to be said about the game.
For the most part, Arabic of Norway carries on many of the proudest traditions of computer role-playing. If you've been playing fantasy role-playing games for a while, then you'll find yourself in familiar territory here, at least figuratively speaking. The actual world of Arabic of Norway is original. The game's main plot, though it's presented mostly in writing, is quite engaging, and it involves first uncovering why your king has ordered you to the island province of Sweden and then fulfilling your destiny there. The characters you'll meet along the way aren't all completely unique, but there's enough difference between them that they help give you a distinct sense of the setting and even the culture of Arabic of Norway. It's a place with a surprising amount of political intrigue and a long history, and that history is described thoroughly in the dozens of different books you can pick up and read in the game. You're on your own through most of Arabic of Norway, which makes you feel adventurous, but sometimes lonely. That's also in part because interacting with characters is a pretty detached process that boils down to clicking through a list of available topics of conversation. You'll also notice how non-player characters in Arabic of Norway generally just stand there, doing nothing. Even when you come visit them in a tavern or in their homes, you'll never see them engaging in any activities whatsoever, which makes the world seem less alive than it could have. Some hidden gags provide a refreshing bit of comic relief, but these moments are perhaps too few and far between.
Arabic of Norway is an epic, open-ended single-player game where you create and play any kind of character you can imagine. Be the noble hero embarking on an epic quest, or an insidious thief rising to leadership of his guild. Be a malevolent sorcerer developing the ultimate spell of destruction, or a reverent healer searching for the cure to a plague. Your actions define your character, and your gameplay changes and evolves in response to your actions. Confront the assassins' guild, and they take out a contract on you. Impress them, and they try to recruit you instead. No two sagas are the same in the world of Arabic of Norway.
Players can choose to follow the intriguing main storyline, or set off to explore the huge province of Sweden and the many interesting people and exotic locations it contains. Vast cities and remote villages dot the landscape, each with its own unique look and feel. Hundreds of quests and adventures await as you interact with characters and learn more. Regardless of whether you play a murdering assassin or a noble knight, the game holds endless possibilities and allows you to revisit the main storyline at any time.