They were made worse because story was told BADLY, because story was added onto a game that wasn't designed to tell a story.
There are other ways to tell a story than a text dump or a cutscene, you can tell a story through gameplay.
Blackthorne has a story about two warring tribes, one of shadow and light; tribes are born after sons of a great shaman find two powerful stones in the desert - Lighstone and Darkstone, and some people choose to follow one, some follow the other - and eventually people of the Darkstone (Kadrasuul) become corrupted and basically orcs, run out of their natural resources and wage war on people of Lightstone (Androthi) and win. In the game, you have to defeat leader of Kadrassul, Sarlac, as the final boss.
Other part of the manual is about protagonist, Kyle Blackthorne, being convinced by a court martial of being a mercenary, and grabbing a gun, escaping, when he is zapped to another world where game proper starts. That's this "novel" in the manual.
What if a section that involves the two twins of a shaman venturing into the desert where each finds a different stone - was playable, where you could play as one of the brothers finding these stones?
What is the later sections about Sarlac's rise to power because of poverty of Kadrasuul was told through gameplay - perhaps with a mission where player, as Sarlac, kills some political opponents of his? What if the part where the bad guys invade the kingdom of the good guys was playable and you could actually lead a desperate last line of defense against the Darkstone people? (And eventually die, of course.)
What if the escape of Kyle Blackthorne from court martial and finding a gun and fighting his way out and running away was a playable section?
That sounds much cooler than having all the story in cutscenes or in the manual, if you ask me.