Thursday, 2 May 2013

Forsooth, Fred

Well that was a strange game. Not at all a text adventure as I thought, but an early icon driven game with a similar feel to an adventure. It's based on the Forsyth thriller of the same name, and it does well to keep the tense, mysterious feeling of a spy novel with such limited technological means. There are three parts to the game and you get some kind of code at the end of each part that enables you to start the next. The first part has you working from your MI5 desk following leads, assigning 'watchers' to suspects, and watching the phone like a hawk in case it rings (something I didn't realise the first couple of times I played with the sound off!). You have to tail suspects and act on information that you get to carefully piece together the plot and work out who the spy is and their motivation and accomplices. This bit's good fun, and you really feel like a spy as you slowly gather information and piece it all together. The interface feels horribly clunky at first - there's no mouse, you press Space to move between icons and Enter to select one - but you rapidly get used to it. Things start slow, but get faster and faster as the first act builds to its denouement and you call your boss with the news before time runs out. The second act was not quite as fun. Here you're set loose on the streets of London and have to travel around visiting various locations, finding clues and getting lost on the tube. I have to admit that I couldn't finish this part. I tried it a few times, but just kept getting lost or randomly dying (e.g. walking out in front of a taxi, which is never fun!). In the end I looked up the password to start act three because I couldn't face doing it any more. Act three has you acting on your information and setting out to storm the Russian hide-out and defuse the bomb. This part is like a proto-SWAT game, where you control a guy (representing a team) on screen and have to move around the rooms and neutralise the enemy by using booby traps, grenades, and a good old sub-machine gun. You also have a trusty shotgun, which is only used for opening locked doors! The map's quite small, so it's not too hard to get through and locate the bomb, then it's a case of defusing it and cutting the right wire at the end. There's even a nice tense ending where you cut the wire and the clock speeds up...well, I won't spoil it, but it was fun. I didn't think I'd enjoy it so much when I first fired it up but, other than the middle act, I thought it was great. I'll have to watch the film/read the book now!

So, the next game up on the randometer is...Nightmare Creatures! Ooh, I remember this from old PC mags, I think I played a demo of it, too. It's an early, and ugly, 3D game. Should be fun.

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