First off, sorry for the lack of game reviews -- I haven't been feeling the best, with the heat and blood work and crap. So this review might not be what it could be. But now I'm doing a review for a beautiful game (for PC, there's also a Wii version, but I don't really like consoles), Petz Horsez 2. The name makes it sound like a really shitty game (something as shitty as Let's Ride! Corral Club) but it's actually very good. Developed by a little French company called Lexis Numerique, and published by Ubisoft.
Description (from Amazon):
Saddle up for fun in a game that combines your passion for horses with thrills and adventure! You'll be rewarded for raising horses, training champions, and saving the ranch in Petz Horsez 2.
On the back of the box, it says there's different ways the story can end. I've played it several times and only gotten two different endings, which is also confirmed by snooping around in the program folder.
Also, in the manual, here's an introduction:
Emma, a young Californian passionate about horse riding, has arrived in France for work experience with a famous Parisian vet before she finishes her studies. Stuck in Provence because her taxi broke down, Emma meets Flora and her nephew Raphaël, both of whom work in a superb stable not far from the picturesque village of Bélèou. However, dramatic events are simmering beneath the surface of the apparently idyllic stable. Marie, the stable’s owner, has mysteriously disappeared, and the Mayor of Bélèou has his eye on the stable...will you be able to solve the mystery and keep the wonderful stable in the hands of its rightful owner?
Not bad, pretty accurate, although the nephew is actually Oliver. I looked around in the game files again, and opened up some text files under the Asset\US\Database\Feature\Dialogs folder, which contain all the dialog, and found out that the character is actually listed under Raphael! (I guess that somehow it got changed over during the French-to-English translation and they didn't update the manual.)
I'm not going to give away any more of the plot, other than to say that the mayor is very creepy and looks ugly as hell.
Okay, now the game. Beautiful graphics, although it can be buggy in a few places (one example is if you're looking for a camera crew, it'll be nowhere to found -- until you go to talk to the priest and find out they're invisible! I'm not gonna give any more away, but you'll remember if you get to that point.) Nice gameplay -- you buy and sell horses, train and care for them, buy stuff on market days, talk to the villagers to find out their stories, and also try to solve the mystery. The game runs on "days", with about 1 second per day. You can only work with the horses from 8am to 8pm, rather realistic.
Here's the stud farm:
That's where the care and training of horses takes place. There's also the village, where a lot of the plot takes place. And of course, the countryside. (I'm not going to take screenshots of them, as there would be too many -- However, I will take some on request.)
It's a very well-made game, not many criticisms except for the invisible camera crew. I'd recommend buying it -- I got it for $20 and man it's a deal.