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Friday, September 28, 2007

Game Play: Jericho Demo

First of all - can I ask what the heck happened to Fileshack? My favorite download spot updates its design and suddenly breaks in my version of FireFox? OK, so I'm still using 1.0 and everything (upgrading as we speak) - but ouch.

So, I thought I might download the Stranglehold demo but got the Jericho one instead. These things happen. As it is, I was one of those people who discoved Clive Barker's Undying a little too late for its own good - but much to my own good - and so I was pretty interested.

In one hand, I applaud a first person shooter title trying to push the design envelope a bit. I played with three man squad mechanics a little with an unreleased Unreal mod and thought there was a lot of potential - and Jericho feels like it wants to mine that potential. Also, Jericho shares Undying's desire for narrative. There's even plot setup in the game to explain shifting between characters - and the occasional dialogue to boot. Plus, while the framerate wasn't amazing on the CheapBox++ - Jericho can be a pretty little game when it wants.

Still, it's almost like I was just talking about consoles invading PC game design space. Holy cow does it show with this title. Whereas Undying played like the standard Unreal engine licensees of the time, Jericho is burdened by the console controller. Even firing your weapon gets a bit of practice as you learn primary and secondary fires ... but then major actions get resorted down to tapping previously established keys. Space might swap characters - or completely revive them. Now, I've got like 104 keys on this keyboard - why are two major functions sharing one of them while for the life of me I can't figure out how to jump? Oh, wait - climb is also tapping the space bar.

Just wait until you get to the DDR style mini-game we can all thank God Of War for granting apparently the entire gaming cosmos. Look, I'm all for trying to push new avenues of co-operative play especially in single player mode, if you get my drift, but why do I have to jump to a tune specifically designed to be challenging to a controller which happens to group four buttons in a specific way?

I think Jericho might have merit, but I'm pretty wary of it as a PC title at this point. Maybe Clive's desire to show that games stand as an artistic medium will win me over - only reviews will tell.

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