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Omar Sharif 3D Bridge PC CD-ROM

Published by Mindscape
Developed by AI Factory
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £9.99

Omar Sharif 3D Bridge, an introduction.

Card games have long been popular as a form of entertainment on our PC's. It's often been claimed that the most played PC game is the Solitaire game that's included with Windows and that comes as no surprise. In the real world other card games are much more popular than Solitaire. Games such as Poker, Blackjack and Bridge are phenomenally popular and have been for a long, long time. These games have also been played on PC's for quite a long time and when it comes to PC versions of Bridge, the series that springs to mind is the one endorsed by Bridge's most famous player, Omar Sharif.

What's the game about?

Essentially of course it's another Bridge game with the added bonus of having 3D environments instead of the standard 2D, top-down affair that we see time and time again in card game compilations. The game offers Internet play and a very substantial single-player game which we will talk about more in a moment. The game supports ACOL, 5-Card Majors and Standard American and offers 72 AI opponents in total. You'll also have the ability to save hands for later study if you wish.

What's good about the game?

What I like most about Omar Sharif 3D Bridge is that it is well structured and isn't just a game that enables you to play Bridge in 3D. The main idea is to become the world champion and initially you'll have to prove yourself. The game has three environments: the home environment, the club environment and the tournament environment. To begin with you'll only have access to the home environment and you'll be able to take part in casual games and practice games. When you've proved yourself here the club environment will be accessible to you and here you can take part in the Club Championships. Once you've won the main Club Championship you'll have access to the tournament environments. Here you'll have access to stronger opponents and more challenging tournaments and you'll also be able to pair up with Omar Sharif and attempt to become the world champion. Such a structured game encourages you to become good at the game and to keep playing. Even if you're a Bridge expert it's going to take a while and it could take years if you're as hopeless as me.

What's not so good about the game?

Omar Sharif 3D Bridge does a lot of things well but what it doesn't do is cater for beginners. The game claims to be suitable for beginners and experts alike and this isn't really the case. Whilst there are some text files that vaguely describe the game basics, there isn't a manual for the game and there is no interactive tutorial that explains the basics in a step-by-step fashion. There is something that claims to be a tutorial but it's just plain confusing and doesn't help matters. It's fair to say that Bridge is one of the more complex card games and the lack of a tutorial really hurts the product as being suitable for a beginner. Thankfully my Bicycle Card Games had a proper tutorial for Bridge so I was able to learn the basics otherwise I would have been stumped. Of course if you are already versed in the finer points of Bridge then this isn't an issue.

How does it look?

It would have been quite easy for the developers to have rustled up a basic 3D engine for the game to justify the 3D part of the title. However the developers haven't took this easy option and have actually created a 3D engine that looks surprisingly good. Playing on a 17" TFT screen I was pleased to see that I could play at the native 1280x1024 resolution. Up to 6x anti-aliasing could be enabled too to give a really sharp and impressive look to the game. The environments all look good and you'll notice clocks that show the real world time and that you can change the lighting environment to suit yourself. These are nice little touches even if they don't do anything to improve the game as such. It's interesting that you don't see any character models for the other players. Instead you'll see the hand of cards floating in mid-air that gives the impression you are playing against four invisible people. This doesn't matter of course and it has the advantage of not seeing character models that look alike.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Omar Sharif will cause deaf gamers no problems at all. All the information is shown in text. During the bidding there is a voice that says what has been bid. There are no subtitles for this but as the information is shown visually anyway there is no need for subtitles in this instance. There are a few environmental sounds that deaf gamers won't be aware of. For instance in the home environment you won't know that the grandfather clock is chiming for midday or that the fire is roaring nicely. None of this matters of course and it's the only thing you'll really miss out on.

Final thoughts.

Bridge enthusiasts will really appreciate what Omar Sharif has to offer. The move from 2D to 3D works really well although it doesn't really affect how the game plays. Some will like how you can move around your environments but essentially you're buying the game to play Bridge and there's plenty here to challenge Bridge players of most abilities. The only qualm I have with the game is the lack of consideration for beginners. I had to look elsewhere to learn the game and so will you, if this is your first experience of Bridge. It's not a major problem though when you consider the game only costs £9.99 and books on Bridge can be bought for half that but it would have been great if more consideration had been given to complete beginners.

 

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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Omar Sharif 3D Bridge manages to successfully bring the PC card game into the world of 3D. As a game it's great and is great value for money at just £9.99. However it you're a beginner to the game you'll want to pick up a book to explain how the game should be played as the game isn't successful in catering for beginners.