|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
February 1, 2008 - Upon arriving at a recent Ubisoft-hosted press event in NYC, we found ourselves struck with a sudden sense of trepidation; we were about to play a video game based on one of our all-time beloved television series, ABC's serialized drama Lost.
As a general rule, movie and television properties adapted into games are about as entertaining as that paper-towel-that-could-absorb-the-red-sea infomercial. Not to mention Lost's myth-heavy narrative and twist-at-every-turn plots don't exactly scream great gaming. So this double-edged sword--or maybe in this case a double-sided Mr. Ecko Jesus stick--haunted us prior to experiencing our own personal plane crash on Oceanic Flight 815.
Shortly after our playable passenger awoke from the impact and slowly opened his eyes to a sunlight-filtered jungle--just like Dr. Jack did in Lost's pilot--we realized we were no longer in comfy chairs in some posh penthouse provided by Ubi's deep-pocketed execs, but were instead among the castaways of Lost; all apprehensions quickly faded as we found ourselves struggling to make sense of the chaos surrounding us. We quickly got the main character to his feet, and began frantically searching the wreckage for answers, clues, anything. You see, as it turns out, our unlucky survivor, named Elliot, has amnesia, so he's gonna need all the help he can get to unravel his own mysterious past as well as the island's. While staggering through the debris-cluttered beach--which, by the way, looks near photo-realistic to its televised counterpart--we spot Kate. We approach her, hoping she'll offer some help or guidance, but the still protective and paranoid fugitive isn't too friendly.
This Kate encounter moves us into our first gameplay experience; seeing Kate triggers a flashback where we see her boarding the plane prior to take off. In this scene, and many other playable flashbacks, gamers need to find clues and capture them with their camera (Elliot just happens to be a photojournalist). In this particular flashback, a picture of Kate in cuffs will suffice, effectively unlocking this memory in Elliot's mind. We now possess a bargaining chip in knowing of Kate's incarceration; we try approaching her again, and she sings a much friendlier tune, unlocking our next objective. This type of play is indicative of how you'll use the flashbacks; unlock a memory from the past and it should help your progress on the island
En route to our next objective, tracking down the good Dr. Jack Shepard, we encountered a more heart-racing event. Turns out if you meander too long in the jungle, the smoke monster will take notice and give chase. Like the show, you'll first hear the terrifying sounds and see the trampled brush preceding the coming danger, but unlike the televised fantasy, it's now the player's personal responsibility to out-run the island's enigmatic security system. This means hoofin' it through the jungle while jumping over rocks and debris, sliding under fallen trees and navigating some unsteady, swamp land. The luckiest jungle dwellers will discover a nature-made bamboo-like cage to take cover in until smokey gets bored and looks to torment another confused soul.
Despite Lost being an adventure game, it packs its share of action, including these romps through the brush with smokey, as well as gunfire exchanges with the Others. In addition to the pulse-pounding moments and playable flashbacks, console castaways will also encounter a number of puzzles; this is Lost, after all, so cracking secrets is a big part of the fun. Puzzle-pursuing players will find themselves exploring the island's many locations--from the show as well as some brand new ones; expect to visit the black rock, punch the numbers in the hatch, and explore the medical facility where Ethan took Claire for "observation." It's actually the game's faithful representation of these show-specific locations, as well as the cast member likenesses and voices, that make this game so incredibly cool for fans. Additionally, interacting with the likes of John Locke--who may offer boar hunting tips and tracking advice--or Sayid--who's got your back for tech advice--is incredibly immersive and satisfying.
Working closely with show-runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindleof, the developers have ensured that Lost is consistent with the series' sacred canon; anything in the game had to be approved by Cuse and Linleof, so fans needn't worry that their prized property has been tampered with inappropriately. In fact, the collaboration between the devs and the show-runners went so far as to include cool fan-service-paying call-outs. Check out the ceiling of the Swan hatch, for example, if you wish to see former hatch-dweller Radinzky's splattered brains. Doing so will actually unlock some 360 Achievement points (concept art and other unlockables are opened on the PS3 and PC versions). The Lost world is filled with these types of Easter eggs; tracking down the infamous numbers unlocks its own reward, as does finding Hurley's VW van.
The title also breaks from traditional game design with a cool nod to the show by separating the gameplay into episodes, beginning each one with a TV-like "previously on Lost"--very cool! Also, keeping with the series' edge-of-your-seat vibe, expect each episode to conclude with a "holy sh*t!" cliffhanger. The unique action/adventure/puzzling gameplay, the cool show-specific call-outs, and, most of all, the incredible presentation of the show and its characters, combine to make a must-play experience for anyone who's already counting the hours to Season 4. Of course, if you're not a Lostie (what the hell is your issue), you're still in for a top-notch story-driven adventure. Either way, you can catch Lost: Via Domus when it crash lands on consoles and PCs late this February.
CCC Freelance Writer