Review by Jermyn78
"What day did God create this game, and why didn't he playtest it also?"
Well here we go, another excursion into the relm of the Squad-Based FPS. A lot of them are excellent and a lot of them aren't. This is one of the latter...not even the fact that Clive Barker of Hellraiser fame helped create this can save it! Don't get me wrong, he's done some fantastic work, but this isn't it...
The plot goes: A mysterious city called Al-Khali has resurfaced in the Middle East after a few years so the US Government sends over its highly secret and unofficial Jericho Squad to investigate. The Jericho Squad is trained in matters of the Supernatural so we've essentially got witches with guns. The thing about Al-Khali is, God created the first being here called, erm, The Firstborn on the site of Al-Khali but then shut it away as it was too powerful or something, and ever since, men have been trying to seek out The Firstborn in order to harness its power. They head to Al-Khali as the Firstborn is held beneath a "breach" which the 7 Holy Warriors have to close otherwise bad things will happen. If this happens then the world will end so seven holy guardians get sent to stop them! You're the latest 7 who are sent because an ex-associate called Arnold Leech who is now turned into a flying demon plans to open the breach. Basically, every level has a boss who tried to open the breach in his timeline and the last Seven Holy Warriors assist you in your quest to close the breach and save the world.
Your team is a mixture of 4 men and 3 women, each with their own special power (Telekineses, Slow down time, healing, unleashing fire demons) and weapons. This wouldn't be so bad but - and this is the first complaint of the game - the guns feel seriously underpowered. If you shot someone point blank with a gatling gun then they would dissolve right away, not get back up for another pop! The special powers come in handy, but you'll find yourself only using a couple of them. Your team progresses through 4 levels (World War 2, The Crusades, Roman Times and Ancient Sumeria). Anyhow, onto the main review...
This game is very poor for quite a number of reasons, and I'll explain them as I go...
(Out of 10)
Graphics (6): The main characters are very well drawn and move ok. No complaints there but the problem is the backgrounds. They get boring straight away because they are very bland and there is a lot of use of the colours red, orange, brown and that pinkish-grey colour thats supposed to be rotting flesh. The opening level is boring as its set in the desert (Before the team discovers the breach opening) so there are lots of rocks and sand etc. The levels are also too linear and don't offer much variety. Then it moves onto World War 2 where you fight German soldiers who were unlucky enough to get pulled into the breach. There is a lot of grey in this level as its all bunkers and fortifications. After that, its onto the Crusades where you go through a valley then a castle. Its all orange, red and brown here. Once you're done its on to 38AD whee you go through ANOTHER valley then the inside of a Roman stronghold amid ANOTHER bland display of orange, red, brown etc before going to Sumeria for a gigantic boss battle. Amid more orange, red and brown...sheesh. Someone really stretched their grey matter on this one!
The enemies look good too. The games standard cannon-fodder are guys with knives for hands and wear metal masks who are a straight rip from The Suffering, and 'suicide bombers' who require a barrage of shots before dying. The WW2 soldiers look good and carry guns and flamethrowers, the Crusaders carry axes and crossbows, the Roman Legionnaires carry spears and crossbows and the Sumerians use magic against you. The boss in the WW2 level is a female German psychic who looks like a standard Barker creation (IE, all leather bondage gear and skinless body), the Crusades boss is an evil Bishop who turns himself into a black rose as one of his attacks, the Roman boss is an evil Governor who is so fat he has to move via a pulley and the Sumerians are demonic enough to hold interest. These are all reasonably animated and look the part as well (Especially The Bishop). Each boss has a backstory which becomes clear when you play the game.
Sound (8): Not much to say, but luckily, this is ok. The music is an orchestral composition which actually compliments the game very well. As does the main theme which is a nice synth number with what sounds like a child's voice singing a haunting melody over it. The sound effects are your usual cries of pain, terror and gunfire while the voice acting, although not the best (The female German psychic sounds like your typical German stereotype), isn't that bad (Ignore what you hear about Delgado, he's the best character in the game).
Gameplay (3): Now this is where the game falls down, big style. The controls are easy enough but are incredibly fiddly. SPOILER ALERT - Midway through the first level, one of your team gets killed (The character you play as) but he comes back as a ghost and can possess a team-mate when you select the appropiate one ergo you can then use their specific weapons and powers. This can get a bit awkward during a firefight as you've no idea of who is in danger unless you possess them and usually everyone is dead by that point. Well they wouldn't be if the AI for your team-mates wasn't so bad! When enemies attack, your team-mates don't take cover but will stay rooted to the spot and return fire. This means they incur damage and eventully get killed. You spend more time in a firefight reviving fallen comrades than you do returning fire! And when you revive a fallen team-mate, the SAME THING HAPPENS AGAIN! They'll stay in the same spot you revived them on, return fire and get killed some more! Also, the game has those real-time button pressing sequences which seem to have been in every single game ever made since Shenmue. This does NOT work in an FPS and merely slows the game up.
Long Lasting (5): Wheras the game has unlockable content, whether or not you can keep playing it is up to you. At 4 stages there doesn't seem much, but each level is long enough to make you forget about that (Sometimes, a little too long though). But ultimately, aside from a few key sequences and cut-scenes, there really isn't much to warrant more plays of this game.
So overall this game isn't very good. It could have been a decent FPS except for the issues involving AI, controls, 'real-time' button pressing and more graphical variety. The old cliche of renting instead of buying is true enough where this game is concernedand who knows, you MAY like it.. But even then, its probably not worth that.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 09/02/08
Game Release: Clive Barker's Jericho (AU, 11/08/07)
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