Note: This review was originally published February 13, 2002
Casanova (kas-e-nov-a) n. 1. A romantic or promiscuous man; libertine. 2. Adam Rodman (see also: grouper, herring)
I really wanted to review Casanova: Duel of the Black Rose. Really. Being the libertine I am, I spent countless hours just staring at the CD case thinking, "Finally, a game where I can use my undeniable man-charm to woo the pants off the ladies!"
I kid, of course, because my undeniable man-charm generally consists of, "So, is that a banana in your pants or are you just happy to see me?" at which time I usually realize that I'm talking to a woman (and if not, I usually get fisticuffs in my abdominal region.)
Well, fellow Casanovas, fear not. Casanova allows for more pants-charming-offness than even Peewee Herman could handle (ha ha! A Peewee Herman joke!) Lonely and love-lacking women fill the Renaissance-era streets of Venice, just begging for a handsome and charming stranger to, well, charm their pants off. In fact, I - the master ladies' man himself - learned a few new tricks from Casanova, namely:
1. The vast majority of women respond well to lewd jokes about their hindquarters.
2. You always have a one in four chance of picking up a babe.
3. And women in the Renaissance did not wear pants, making the charming removal of the pants all the easier.
Of course, there's more to Casanova than the mere pursuit of love. Unfortunately, it sucks.
The story, while okay, can drag along at the pace of a snail weighted down with lead and towing a Ford Expedition through three-foot deep molasses in the peak of winter (that is, slowly). Basically, fierce Mongol pirates attack the handsome Giacomo Casanova's ship and kill his ma while severely injuring him. While he recuperates in the city of Venice, he discovers that plenty of women roam the streets, just waiting for him to charm their respective pants off of. Oh, and the said fierce Mongol pirates threaten the city and other such pointless miscellany (not much matters when there's pants-charming to be had.)
And the graphics, while okay, can drag along at the pace of a snail weighted down with lead and towing a Ford Expedition through three-foot deep molasses in the peak of winter (that is, slowly). Even at the lowest detail level, the speed of the game made me feel sorry for my computer (and this is a machine to which I have intoned, "You worthless hunk of bovine fecal matter and silicone," "You hell-spawned machine," and, "I'd rather word process on Michael Jackson than on you!"). Once you start to add in the water, the sky, and crowd effects (I had to turn all of those off for halfway decent playing), you might as well read a good (and long) book while you play Casanova. The complete, untranslated works of Nietzsche, for example. Not to mention the clipping problem. The gondolas flew through the frickin' sky!
And don't get me started on the gameplay, which while okay, can drag… Okay, the gameplay outright sucks. You control Casanova a la Grim Fandango. The arrow keys move him in the cardinal directions, and an action key does, web, action. No problem with that setup. However, the sometimes confusing camera angles can make walking around a freakin' square difficult.
Don't get me started on the combat. Casanova can kill both fierce Mongol pirates and random robbers with either a rapier or a crossbow. That is, in theory he can. Considering the Suckiness Factor© of the combat system (a 9,984 out of 10,000), Casanova will die a tad bit more than he will kill. The crossbow is next to impossible to aim and the supposedly intuitive sword commands are best utilized by randomly ramming the keyboard with your open palm.
But that's not to say that Casanova doesn't have its high points. The sound is halfway decent, the Italian accents are really funny, and there's always the picking up women. Basically, Casanova goes and talks to a woman. Then, judging from her response, he chooses one of four approaches (if she says, "Egads! My mamma is dying!" I would suggest a sensitive approach. If she says, "Ya know, I haven't had sex in four years," I'd go with the lewd approach.
In short, Casanova isn't a bad game if you want some pants-charming-off-deformed-computer-generated-women action. But if you wanted a quality adventure game, I'd look somewhere else.
Final Grade: D+
64 MB RAM
3D Graphics Card
500 MB free hard disk space