XBOX REVIEW: STILL LIFE

Adventure games, or point-and-click games as some may call them, are best left in the domain of the PC where they have thrived for many years. Although they are becoming passé, there are still some good games being released which bend and blend the genre to ensure they will continue long into the 21st century.

Still Life is an old-school adventure game that won't tax your grey matter. It's good for novices and those hardcores that might want to run through such a game in a couple of days. There's nothing for replay value so I would recommend a rental if you think you're good enough. There's always the walkthrough if you have to return the game in a few hours.

Still Live has some CSI overtones to it although it doesn't get as deep in the forensics as many fans of the show might expect. The puzzles do relate to the story and the gameplay for the most part, although there are some instances when you feel as though you've been detoured for no good reason. I suppose in that regard it's not unlike a real murder investigation where disruptive situations can and do occur when you least expect them.

Victoria McPherson is investigating a grizzly serial murder on the cold streets of Chicago. Not getting anywhere fast, the unsolved case begins to weigh heavy on her psyche as she is reminded of a similar case that her grandfather was involved in in Prague during the 20s. Toggling between the two cases we witness the different techniques and technologies separated not only by an ocean but by two generations. One thing that we do learn is that the advances in technologies are no match for a criminal genius unless they are employed by an equally sophisticated crime-solving mind.

Puzzles include locating items, combining items to create something new, tile sliding, code cracking and the dreaded, box arranging. There's nothing new in any of the puzzles but at least they relate to the gameplay so as to not be so vague or difficult just for the sake of being difficult. There is a certain logic here that won't have you pulling your hair out, at least not with the puzzles per se but the load times will really start to get on your nerves. They don't take long to switch from room to room but some puzzles require that you enter and re-enter a number of rooms over and over while you continue searching for your next clue.

Some of the clues, especially the text-based ones can be hard to see on the Xbox. The PC monitor has much better resolution. Plenty of detail is lost on the Xbox. There is at least one puzzle that I just couldn't get because of the lack of resolution. Thank heaven for walkthroughs.

Characters look good when they're still, but the animation is really awkward looking. Their mouths don't always match up with what they're saying and are prone to exaggerated movements which make the characters look like puppets. If you're lucky it will give you nightmares. The voiceacting is good but there are some rough spots with poor phrasing. The dialog gives you insight into Victoria's and Gus's motivations and thought processes so you will definitely want to listen to it.

Still Life is the kind of game that will be regarded by many as, "Not bad." It won't make anyone's top-five-games-of-the-year list but it tells an interesting tale and allows you to match wits with a couple of notorious serial killers. And did I mention that the dame ain't too bad looking?

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System: Xbox
Dev: Capcom
Pub: Capcom
Release: June 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
2.0