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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Gateway to the Savage Frontier takes place in the Sword Coast, situated in the northwest of the Forgotten Realms game world, and is the first SSI gold box title to use 256-color VGA graphics. The RPG adventure centers on a sinister plot by a cabal of evil wizards and priests to take control over the region. You must develop a party of up to six characters with the task of avenging not only its own plight at the hands of robbers but also one capable of stopping the cabal.
Gateway to the Savage Frontier characters begin with a small sum of cash and 3000 experience points each, enough to take most to level two, with advancement possible in most cases to levels six to eight. Exploration and character interaction is seen through a first-person perspective, while turn-based combat employs an isometric view. The isometric viewpoint allows for an element of strategy, as players must move and position characters to take advantage of their abilities.
The upgrade in graphics from previous games in the series made Gateway to the Savage Frontier the best looking gold box game released at the time, but were actually fairly unimpressive compared to other VGA games released around the same era (early 1990s). The graphics were essentially the same 16-bit graphics seen in older gold box games, but with slightly bigger and more detailed character sprites and a bit more color.
The game offers a better sense of freedom for players than previous titles in the series, but the storyline fails to match the epic proportions of previous efforts. Nonetheless, Gateway to the Savage Frontier is a good introduction for newcomers to the series, while gold box veterans will still find much to like.
OVERALL RATING: 5 ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide