From Interplay and We2 Productions
An interactive movie starring Malcolm McDowell. You are Michael Cameron, a facilator for a mining corporation. You start the game flying into Egypt, because there's been some sort of trouble at this particular site. In fact, they've found an artifact that some say came from a tomb. Others disagree and you're supposed to work out how to get the mining operation going again.
The game is first person and you only control one character. The graphics are excellent (mostly) computer generated scenes (Hey, Keith, those mountains were real at some point, right?) In the game, you can usually turn to view each area from different angles, and with the exception of the mine itself, you usually should. Movement between areas (or rooms) is just a change of picture, with a couple of *very* notable exceptions.
Technically speaking, this game has some of the biggest, cleanest videos that I've seen embedded into a game. Unlike 11th Hour, which has pretty videos but a separate box in which to play them, these are part of the game. But the blue edging noticeable in other games is not present in this one. I also like the videos of ghosts/spirits (you have to find the tombs for this). They fade in and out as the ghost speaks to you which I find to be a nice touch. You may notice that the game only has one CD-ROM in it, but don't worry, it includes plenty of game play.
The manual has a walk-through for the opening stages of the game, which introduces you to the major characters, and sets the general scene for the game. Though the opening stages aren't too tough, it's later in the game that will create the problems.
The game has a one-cursor-solves-all interface. There is a hand, and you can generally tell from what the hand is doing/pointing what your options at this stage are. The menu bar lets you set a few preferences up but there are not many options. You may have videos set to interruptible, and set transitions from none to very fast. The menu bar also where you can load and save games from, though you can do that with the keyboard too.
It is an adventure game. You have to be observant. In
particular, in the morning after your arrival, do look for
how to get into buildings. Doors aren't the only way
in, after all...
Always be careful to check all around you when you've entered a room for the first time.
The game is very good at giving you some indication where you need to be or what you need to solve next. Like you find several sets of labelled keys. When you have the key to the tower, what might be good to explore? Though re-read the hint above, it isn't that difficult to get caught by something that you failed to notice.
There aren't really interactions as such. You trigger video sequences by performing a set of actions or by being at the right (or indeed the wrong) place at the right time. Unlike the previous game produced by these companies, Frankenstein: Through the eyes of the Monster, the conversations flow normally, you don't have to do something odd like turn away from one character to keep the conversation moving.
The cast is good. From Malcolm MacDowell down to the character who gets murdered your first night on-site, the acting is of good quality. Unlike some games, when Amazing Media says a game is starring actor A, they mean you'll be seeing more of actor A then anyone else. Not a case of Known Actor who actually only appears once in the entire game.
I had several gripes about Frankenstein and the major gripes were fixed by this game. The music tracks were longer, and not nearly as tiresome as the music from the previous game. Also the game isn't as dark, so there was less need to play in the middle of the night with the lights off. There are even maps for the maze-like mines, if you can find them.
Potential driver caused problems. For whatever reason, most times when I start the game through Windows, the first time it will not find the CD in the drive. This may be my driver and not a bug. Both this and Frankenstein do this, I suspect that the driver isn't the latest that I could have. Also the music occasionally stops, but you can restart it by going to the task manager for a moment then return to the game. I have been told that really is a driver problem, but I haven't taken the time to find the latest drivers. As long as the problem is this easy to fix, why worry?
I find Amazing Media games entertaining. They avoid several things that can be annoying in adventure games including: there are no points in the game (as in, you have 350/600 points), there are no hunt-the-pixel problems, and while timing of your response can be important, it isn't nearly as critical to be *exact* as some other games (Gabriel Knight 1 and 2 have at least one almost-arcade sequence in them.)
The music is good, and at times excellent (I love the music that occurs just after the earthquake.) The dialogue is believable and sometimes amusing. The puzzles are an integral part of the game, not add-on mechanical puzzles or the like. The graphics are splendid, the hieroglyphics that you see in the tombs are recognisable from text-book samples that you might have seen. All in all, a splendid game that should keep you amused for awhile. Then, if you haven't tried it yet, do play Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster.
Well, except for the actual end. Too quick, too simple and not as satisfying as one might hope. But getting there is worth the trip. Over-all conclusion...well, if anyone from home wants to try it, I'll have to buy them a copy as a present.
Indications that you shouldn't buy this game. You want a game with difficult puzzles. Well, there are a few tougher moments in this game, but if you found Gabriel Knight to be the right level of challenge, this game is probably not going to entertain you much. This is the reason I recommend it thoroughly for beginning to intermediate adventurers. Those who are a bit more grounded may like it, if it appeals to their sense of humour or taste.
I like the opening sequence of the game. One of my gripes about Frankenstein was that it was a bit difficult to open a saved game without playing the opening videos. This game starts much better, and I do like the way they've done the credit sequence. Though I expected it to end with a 'This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds' for reasons that I can't explain.
Maybe it's just me. After picking up keys all over the place, I really keep expecting Malcolm to be annoyed when he finds me in one of these locked rooms. It doesn't happen that way, but I do expect it. Mind you, he does start getting annoyed with you, but that isn't the reason.
Left-over instincts from Frankenstein. I really hate the sound of a door or footsteps behind me. You don't know what's coming, but you're pretty sure that you won't like it... Then again, it took about two days of playing before I was certain it wouldn't be Frankenstein popping up again. I try to discourage any thoughts of letting me design things, with my sense of humour, I probably would have thrown Frank in once as a joke. Hmm, earnest reflection on this suggests that Davenport's office could have had a picture of Frank above the bookcase...
Having seen a couple of other reviews, it strikes me that the majority of people have only ever seen Malcolm McDowell as a villain. As a complete contrast, see if you can find a film called Time After Time. In this, Malcolm plays the sweet, naive and utterly charming H. G. Wells. Pity that he went on from that to Caligula, and (I believe) never played a nice guy again.