Game: Gray Matter

Gray MatterFinished Gray Matter yesterday.

Gray Matter is troublesome. Jane Jenson (Gabriel Knight series) created that game and it fails. It has a great nice idea and setting: in Oxford you play Samantha “Sam” Everett which accidentally comes to the Dread House, the home of Dr. Styles, a former neuro-biologist. Dr. David Styles suffers from the loss of his beloved wife which burned to death in a car accident some 3 years ago. Ever since he remained in his house mourning the death and hides himself, since during the failed rescue attempt his face suffered too and disfigured him. But with the arrival of Samantha, the ghost of Laura Styles seems to haunt the house, so Dr. Styles sets of some experiments to get in contact with her.

During the experiments strange things happen around Oxford and Samantha takes on investigation. She suspects some magicians of some strange Daedalus Club behind this. But as she is a magician rookie as well she tries to put a stop on the activities and get into the club.

So far: a great setup. Oxford is pretty well displayed, the history, the city, Lewis Carroll and “Alice in Wonderland”, the colleges, and and and

But then: I personally had troubles with the characters: Samantha is an ever lying girl. Yes, as an would be illusionist you ought to lie every now and then, but this is quite excessive when it comes to this figure. And I do have problems with this. So I dislike Samantha and did not get in touch with this character portrait. I was sort of annoyed playing Samantha which is most part of the game. And for Dr. Styles: he is simply a very stupid asshole. Bottom line: I was not interested in the characters! Even worse: I felt a great share of dislike for both. Which is a failure when it comes to the main characters in an adventure.

Then the story loosens. What sets off as been real interesting gets boring, because the knowledge level you are on at the end of chapter 1 (out of 8) pretty much stays at the same level until the end: who is behind the strange activities? Who is the black sheep of the group of students? Who is Mephistopheles? What about the death of Laura and is she really haunting the house? You pretty much know at then end of chapter 1 as much as close to the final. There are no great revelations or suspects. It got very boring, because you run in circles.

Gameplay: what the F*! I’ve expected more from this person in adventure game design! Come on! The triggers are bad, really bad! Example: I could not buy some items at the black wand shop. Only at the beginning of a chapter I was entitled to … for totally unknown reasons why now! Another: I was able to confront Dr. Linkweller with his fling with a student girl … before I eavesdropped the conversation! This is ok, if this is your first adventure but of the Gabriel Knight creators? Huh? Bad! This ought to be an adventure with such things at core. I can’t believe they did not get this right.

And then: loading the scenery for each location anew: come on! I do have Gigabytes of memory. This loading is just a bad game engine implementation.

All in all: a great plus for story setup and environment. The rest is ok (graphics) down to real bad (gameplay and engine).

3/10: 3 out of 10

Game: Prince of Persia – The Two Thrones

Prince of Persia: The Two ThronesFinished Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones two weeks ago. 

Story: one gets not much of a story here. You land in Babylon with your love from the previous game Warrior Within, which I reviewed here. You see the city under attack and are separated. The rest of the game is the hunt for the great evil vizier which has turned into a supernatural evil being. You chase this evil across the city right into the tower of Babylon to final kill it. Yep, that was it.

As an interesting sidekick you gain a split personality, the dark prince, which is way more violent but permanently looses life energy. The reason for all this, the motives of the vizier – well sure: to rule the world, but how and why this magical stuff – as well the dark prince is some pseudo psychological and philosophical gibberish. I didn’t get through it – and it is also totally unimportant to the game. It only serves as a reason that once you thought you have him (the vizier) he throws you back again and again. It’s some sort of artificial reasoning for level extension. This gets a bit annoying to the end of the game.

Setting: Babylon. Well, yes: a city from roof to the cellars. And back up until to the great tower of Babylon. This is nice. Though you do not met anyone else than opponents … and usually you do not get into lengthly conversations with them. Kill on sight. So the city is rather empty … Sadly, the settings and ambiance has not the breath taking coolness of Warrior Within. It turned more Arabic which is not a bad thing per se but simply not as cool.

Gameplay: yee-hoo. The fun! Jumping, Hanging, Swinging, Running: it is all here! This is the real cool part of Prince of Persia. And it is even easier than Warrior Within. This is the Prince Of Persia feeling here. This is just great.

All in all: not as excellent as the Warrior Within but still a nice game to play.

7/10: 7 out of 10

Game: Bioshock

BioshockFinished Bioshock already some weeks ago. This is a perfect game! A must-have. Oh my! This game is without glitches. This is a very fine example of how to create games as a memorial of today’s human culture and society. 

The game’s story starts of not much of a surprise. You are sort of stranded with little or no information and knowledge about what is going on. This is standard storytelling in most games. But what this game sets apart is the way it goes on now. It’s simply great! As you delve deeper and deeper into the city of Rapture you come close and closer to a corrupted society destroyed by the weakness of Objectivism of Ayn Rand.

The creator of Bioshock, Ken Levine, integrated a lot of ideas and his personal thoughts dealing with Objectvism into this game and lets the player – interactively – experience a world of failed Objectvism, a dystopia ruined by its consequences. Plus: the story itself gets a huge twist at about 2/3 of the game again.

The design of the game including graphics and sound are drawn from the times Objectvism was created. So Art Deko dominates … and the details within the game respecting this design are stunning.

Gameplay also includes RPG elements allowing you to booster your abilities. And moral decisions too!

The design of the interface and controls are exemplary. It is easy to switch to different interaction models and to inspect your stats.

All in all: if you didn’t play this game, you do not know what a good shooter is.


10/10: 10 out of 10