|System: PC, X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Mercury Steam||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tom Becker
April 25, 2007 - The name Clive Barker conjures many images: uniquely talented author, playwright, and horror icon with a predilection for gore and a flair for the fabulous. Barker originally turned his gore-splattered gaze upon the gaming world and released 2001's answer to a good night's sleep, Undying. A genuinely scary game, Undying set the stage and raised the bar for horror games and horror-based FPS. Barker's unique blend of horror and mysticism returns to the video game market with the upcoming Jericho.
Like much of Barker's work, Jericho melds the worlds of technology and religion, the profane and the sacred, with plenty of blood, flesh, and BDSM imagery. Once more, the forces of darkness have returned to overtake the world in the name of all things boney and creepy. What better setting for hell on Earth than the Middle East?
The game takes place in the peaceful village of Al-Khali: the site of an ancient city, built and rebuilt, conquered and re-conquered over and over throughout history. This time it's modern day and the baddies have risen once more to challenge the rule of man. The theme of a hellish megalopolis rising out of the desert is a familiar one for fans of Barker, Harlan Ellison, and anyone who's been to Phoenix. Humanity responds as it always does in video games: send in the Marines.
These are no ordinary bug-hunting, cigar-chomping, cybernetically-enhanced space marines. This gang of misfits and miscreants share the typical Barker-esque melding of technology and magic. Sergeant Frank Delgado is the typical mini-gun toting brute, except that his right arm is possessed by a flame spirit named Ababanili. Delgado uses this to his advantage by firing massive bursts of fire at his enemies, which is always nice when facing off against a surging horde of hell-beasts. Billy Church is a kitana-wielding assassin, handy with a machine pistol and a head full of voodoo spells. Her spell casting comes into play when healing or enchanting other members of the team. Lieutenant Black is a deadly sniper whose telekinetic abilities allow her to slow down time and alter the path of her bullets. Fans of the sniper rifle in FPS will no doubt wet themselves at the possibilities this presents. Father Paul Rawlings is an exorcist who enchants his weapons to give him a supernatural edge. Captain Xavier Jones uses his clairvoyance to see into the future and head off baddies even before they arrive. Corporal Simone Cole is a hacker who can manipulate time, a very popular attribute in FPS these days. The player even controls the disembodied spirit of Devin Ross, whose corporeally-challenged status allows him to heal other players and to "thread" their spirits together to share their abilities as a group. No ordinary space marines, indeed
One of the most interesting aspects of gameplay is that the player can control each of these characters individually. As with other FPS, the player can switch between the available characters, depending on who is present in the mission. This is particularly important when a puzzle or enemy requires a specific team member's special ability. Whether pure firepower or acrobatic skill is required, the player will have to cycle through the available team members to make it through alive. There is more to winning in Jericho than mowing down everything in one's path, however, and coordinating the team's various abilities will be crucial to the player's success. The play is varied not just among the members of the strike team, but also in time and space.
The city of pure evil has risen and fallen many times throughout history. Specifically, the player will try to cork the hell-mouth in present day, WWII, the Crusades, the Roman Empire, and the source of the original mess thousands of years before Christ. From the first encounter with the beasties in present-day Al-Khali to the depths of the dark ages, (the really, really dark ages) the action promises to be non-stop, challenging, and, one can safely assume, pretty scary. At the very least, early previews indicate the game is a visual feast.
Atmosphere is key to the horror genre, as a clear, well-lit environment is about as scary as a basket full of napping kittens. The walls drip with ooze, hell, everything drips with ooze. The flesh and bone that make up the beasts guarding the hell-mouth are so detailed you can almost smell the rot. Flames, smoke, and explosions look great in screenshots and it looks like it will all add up to a really menacing atmosphere. Keeping the pressure on and the stakes high is key to any FPS and Jericho looks like it'll do both quite nicely.
FPS are a dime a dozen these days, so a quality storyline from a seasoned spinner of horror yarns is a welcome change. Couple that with the game's visual beauty and unique take on character-switching, and Jericho has the makings of a great horror FPS.
CCC Freelance Writer