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QIN: Tomb Of The Middle Kingdom

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela

They say that "a picture is worth a thousand words", and the talented developers of this game have certainly proved it. With their beautiful re-creation of a legend in a detailed interactive environment, they have made one small part of dry and dusty history come alive... and it is both highly educational and unforgettable.

Qin (pronounced "ching") was the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi.  Ruthless and famous in life, he conquered all of the individual warring states of that ancient land, then unified them under his own merciless dictatorship and built irrigation systems, roads and the Great Wall.  But it was in death that he truly became a legend.  For he built for himself a tomb the likes of which the world had never seen, and never would again.

Sealed with a curse and surrounded by myth, superstition and fear, it took 700,000 men over 30 years to build, and was said to be an entire underground city... literally a subterranean kingdom, with vast expansive landscapes, palaces and pavilions, and flowing streams.  And legend has it that hidden within its walls lay the reason that he built it:  his secret formula for the elixir of eternal life!  But the tomb was also rumored to contain deadly boobytraps and pitfalls, and a standing army ready to do Qin's bidding... and no one has ever come out of the tomb alive!

It is now some 2000 years later in the year 2010, and a wealthy international conglomerate has just announced its plans to finally open the tomb, despite the local fear and unrest. You are a leading archaeologist, hired by the company to oversee the dig, and to bring them the formula for the fabled elixir (their real reason for financing the excavation).  However soon after you arrive, you are dismayed to learn that not much real progress has been made. The workers are still over a mile from the main entrance to the tomb, and the Chinese government plans to close down the dig!  So you strike out alone, determined to use what little time you have here to soak up the ambience of the site which has fascinated you for so long.

But suddenly a catastrophic earthquake strikes the accursed site, swallowing you. You find yourself buried beneath 15 stories of earth with no way to get back to the surface. The only possible way out appears to be through the tomb that you see in front of you...

This is a 1st person, point & click game of (obviously) solitary exploration, with 5 different levels or realms and 3 different endings. The imaginary re-creation is based on contemporary accounts of the tomb's construction, and actual archaeological evidence that has been gathered from other sites. The beautiful photorealistic graphics have an eerie, almost surreal quality, and the original soundtrack is based on traditional Chinese melodies and is played on authentic instruments.

The puzzles are ethnic and fascinating. None is too difficult, but you must pay attention to details. They are usually either manipulative or find-and-use, and solving them opens new pathways and possibilities.  Many are based on ancient Chinese philosophy, culture or folklore, but you carry a 'DataVisor' which automatically translates any Chinese script encountered, and it will provide you with needed background information about any object.  It also has a mapping feature that adds more areas as you discover them, and contains in depth encyclopedic articles on ancient Chinese history, culture, philosophy and science for further study, if desired.

You match wits with the genius of China's first Emperor, and the future is in your hands.  If you survive, you will have a choice to make.  Which will you choose:  destruction or a new beginning?

It is a realistic and totally immersive journey through an unfamiliar world of exotic beauty and madness, and we enjoyed it immensely.  Recommended!

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Developed (1995) by Learn Technologies Interactive and published by Times Warner Electronic Publishing.  Later published by SouthPeak Interactive.

Rated:   K-A   for Kids to Adults

Minimum System Requirements:  Windows   MAC

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"Walkthrough" available here!

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Copyright  1998, Revised 2001
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