Some of the boomers here may have heard of this game from Quandaryland's review some weeks ago, and I admit this one flew under my radar since I had not heard of it up to that point. Judging from the review there, it looked to be worth a try so I took a chance with it and I must admit I was glad I did.
This game, from UbiSoft and the Dupuis studio in France, is a port from the PS2 console, and is not to be confused with another Ubisoft game for PS1 called Largo Winch-Commando SAR (I have to assume this is the same character, otherwise Largo Winch must be a very common name in Europe!) The game is completely keyboard controlled, so the arrow keys are used for movement, which takes some getting used to but is more manageable than in Escape from Monkey Island in my opinion.
The story involves the young man, Largo, inheritor of a huge conglomerate from his father, who finds out that one of his subsidiaries has been involved in secret genetic experiments. I won't give away too much more but suffice to say there is plenty of travel in this game (which I always love) and you will visit such diverse locations as Mexico, Russia, Sardinia, and Eastern Europe as this tale of sabotage and international intrigue unfolds. Largo is assisted by some reliable cohorts in his mission who have their own special abilities in combat.
The gameplay consists mainly of inventory based puzzles, some fighting and a few stand-alone puzzles. I won't go into a full description of the interface here, but I'll say it is fairly simple and easy to use once you get used to using the right keyboard commands. Now, those of you violently shaking your heads at the thought of having to make rapid keyboard command combinations, let me assuage your fears: nothing is timed; all the puzzles and the action combat are turn based so you can take your time making strategic decisions, and the combat in particular is very easy to learn and play and does not occur nearly as often as in most action games. Overall, Largo is primarily an adventure in style and gameplay.
One kind of puzzle, computer hacking, is fairly ingenious and is akin to Pac-Man, but without the time element. I quite enjoyed the challenge of this puzzle type, as it was simple at first, but got progressively more challenging later in the game, although it seems the designers relied on it a little too much in the second half of the game as there are times when you beat one and then shortly after have to confront another hacking challenge. Also, there is one slider puzzle which stymied me for days, mostly because using the keyboard for it slowed me down, and it became a matter of just getting used to that before I could comfortable solve it.
The graphics are fairly sharp and colorful, with some of the urban interiors quite realistic and attractive, but the more natural outdoor settings suffered from the "flatness" of older 3D style graphics. Character modelling was not as sharp, and some of them looked quite blocky and unattractive, though the designers seemed to try to compensate for that by having the female characters dress pretty racy, with short skirts and plenty of cyber-cleavage. Largo himself looked pretty smooth, but a little too young to be believable. My favorite line of his when trying to convince another character to give him something: "But I'm a billionaire!"
Reminiscent of 60's spy thrillers, but set in the present, Largo Winch may seem a little shallow (it's a little hard to work up sympathy for a young billionaire), but I found it a stylish and diverting experience, and one that adventure fans should consider.
Available at: GAMEPLAYUK Software First