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#89122 - 09/10/06 02:28 AM Safecracker II - fun and games!
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 2833
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Safecracker II Review
by Reenie

First of all let me say that this game is not for everyone. There are no dragons, spells, special effects, spies, quests, mummies, worlds to save, power gems, space ships to fly or holy relics to reclaim. There is nothing but a series of safes to open, all of which present you with a variety of challenges from simple to maddening. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, don’t buy this game, don’t play it, and don’t complain about it later. ‘Nuff said. wink

BACKGROUND
At the beginning, your environment is limited to a small part of the interior of a mansion. You have to begin right away to open safes in order to get keys to open doors to the rest of the mansion. The story line is pretty much nonexistent: it is basically the tired cliché of the eccentric millionaire leaving a behind a hidden will that all of his relatives want to find. You don’t meet the millionaire or his relatives, but I hope you didn’t buy this game to socialize -- you bought it to be pleasantly tormented by a series of diabolical challenges. There are notes and letters left lying around to give you hints about the missing protagonists and their personalities, but that is it for people. You are on your own.

GAME PLAY
The graphics are good throughout the game, with great detail and well-rendered colors, highlights, and three-dimensionality. The musical background is so insignificant that I can’t even remember it as I write this a day after finishing the game. Character movement is slide-show fashion, although within each "position" you can rotate 360 degrees and fully scan up and down. There is no padding or bogus hot spots; everything that you can interact with is obvious. You don’t waste any time on false leads, like scanning every book in the library or opening every cabinet in the kitchen.

Immediately at the start, you get a map of the mansion. It expands as you gain access to more of the mansion. The map also keeps track of all the safes by showing a red "X" in each room where a safe is located. Once you have solved a safe, its "X" turns green. This helps when you are deciding where to go next. I recommend you also draw your own map because you will want to annotate it, to remember which safe is which. Some need a card key, some need a special shaped key, some need a combination of numbers, some need some special handle or cranking device. Once you open a safe and find a key or device, you’ll want to remember where to go to use it.

Keeping notes is important for other clues as well. You’ll find clues as well as red herrings, and it is easier to just copy them down than to try to remember everything. In any case, the end safe combo cannot be obtained without collecting and combining four sets of clues that you can’t contain in your head.

The inventory is standard, as is its use. Once you have correctly used an inventory article, it is "crossed out" in your inventory. This makes it obvious what items are still "live" when you open inventory and makes management easier. You don’t pick up any bogus inventory, so no effort is wasted there, either.

THE SAFES
So, on to the safes. All of the safes "reset" if you back away. I liked this feature because sometimes I would get confused and want to start over. So I’d just back out, then go back in.

The first few safes are pretty easy, and you rapidly gain access to the whole lower floor of the mansion. A couple of the safes at first seem to have no obvious solution, but then you look harder and start to see a pattern. With several of them, I felt I got the solution by luck. With one, I still don’t know how I got it. For most, there is a definite and addicting "AHA!" feeling when you get the green light and the door opens. happydance

I never got the sense that any puzzle was a cheap shot or was presented without giving you an adequate chance to solve it. That is not to say that they were easy, just not "tricky" in a mean way. The game is fun. No one is mocking you, like in 11th Hour, although the dead millionaire has left behind some snide notes of congratulation. You don’t need an encyclopedia or a degree in physics to have a fighting chance to solve everything. For the most part, everything you need is to be found in the mansion itself. You just bring your brains with you.

Having said that, there is nothing as simple as finding a key inside of a drawer or a combination written on the inside cover of a book. You have to work for everything. You do get some keys, but only by opening another safe first. You do get some combinations, but only by figuring out complicated clues in the house – or opening another safe.

All safes are opened by first solving a puzzle. Yes, there is a slider puzzle. Yes, there is a Magic Square puzzle. And yes, there are several of the "push-a-button- and-watch-the-effect- then-push-again" type of puzzles that take some time just to figure out the WHAT of the objective before you can begin to solve the darned thing.

SUMMARY
It doesn’t take that long to play this game, unfortunately. I wish it had gone on much longer. Even including the time that the game was running in the background while I was working on a puzzle solution on paper, it only took about 9 hours to run through it. Seems to me there isn’t that much effort involved in creating a few puzzles like the ones required to open these safes, and the puzzles are the raison d’etre of the game – so why not just have more of them? I loved the game, and was ready to restart it from scratch again as soon as I finished it. It was really fun, just too short.

I give the game an A for interest, presentation and challenge. I give it a D for length, only because I didn't want it to end.

GAMING PLATFORM
Windows XP
Intel P4 (2.4GHz)
ASUS P4T-E motherboard
Western Digital 120 gig HD
500+ RAM
Soundblaster 5.1
nVidia GeForce 4 TI 4600 video card
Direct X 9.0+
_________________________
When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.

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#89124 - 09/10/06 07:49 AM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
looney4labs Online   content
GB Reviewer Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 42644
Loc: Alabama
Well done, and thanks a lot. I have it, but it will most likely not get played for awhile.

From what I've heard, I'm sure I'll spend at least 8 hours on the first slider rolleyes
_________________________
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
-Roger Caras

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#89125 - 09/10/06 12:29 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 2833
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I'll watch the "Hints" forum, and be happy to provide clues to anyone who gets stuck. Don't worry, anyone will LOVE this game that likes puzzles.
_________________________
When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.

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#89126 - 09/10/06 01:26 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
looney4labs Online   content
GB Reviewer Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 42644
Loc: Alabama
That's very good of you, Reenie.

Thanks
_________________________
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
-Roger Caras

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#89127 - 09/10/06 02:50 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
Thanks Reenie!

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#89128 - 09/10/06 05:38 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
Dineke Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 04/29/06
Posts: 4046
Loc: Netherlands
Hi Reenie,
I wish i could express in writing what i think of the games i played like you and all the review-writers do praise

You are absolutely right in the review but i still could't resist clicking on drawers, books and kitchen-cupboards laugh

wave

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#89129 - 09/10/06 09:42 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 2833
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I just realized I listed my own gaming platform rather than what the game recommends. You don't need as much as I have. The box says you need the following:

Windows98/2000/XP
P3, 800 MHz
64 MB RAM
700 MB HD available
DirectX 9.0c (sound card)
16x CDROM
64 MB DirectX 9.0c (video card)
_________________________
When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.

Top
#89130 - 09/10/06 09:48 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
looney4labs Online   content
GB Reviewer Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 42644
Loc: Alabama
Thanks Reenie. That's always good information to have.
_________________________
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
-Roger Caras

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#89131 - 09/18/06 02:27 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
chrissie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 01/15/05
Posts: 4409
Loc: london uk
Thanks so much Reenie for such a good review. I wasn't sure whether to buy this game or not. But you have done such a brilliant job of describing it I know what to expect. I didn't think it was for me but would now consider it if I ever run out of adventure games!!!!!

praise

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#89132 - 09/20/06 04:38 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
MsMercury Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 02/08/06
Posts: 11745
Loc: Scotland
I wasn't sure about this game either, Reenie, but I think I could be tempted now. Thank you for a great review. bravo praise

Mary wave
_________________________
"It's not what you have in your life
but who you have in your life that counts." puppy

I'm not getting old....just 'Marvelously Mature'! grin

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#89133 - 09/20/06 06:27 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
looney4labs Online   content
GB Reviewer Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 42644
Loc: Alabama
Just tempted, Mary?
_________________________
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
-Roger Caras

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#89134 - 09/23/06 08:11 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
howlingwolf Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 123
Loc: Washington
I myself was wondering if I would like this game or not-that is why I have put of buying it so far. I do like puzzles like the ones you mentioned so now I am tempted to play it-for I am in a gaming drought right now looking for new stuff to play while waiting anxiously for the new games I want to come out next month.
Donna
_________________________
There is nothing to fear but fear itself

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#89135 - 09/23/06 09:20 PM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 2833
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
For me, it was the bounty of puzzles. I love a good puzzle, and it is really what I like most about Adventure gaming. (I started with the original Myst...) So, I just loved Safecracker II. Just bare-bones puzzles. thumbsup
_________________________
When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.

Top
#89136 - 09/24/06 12:48 AM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
howlingwolf Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 123
Loc: Washington
Reenie-
Sounds good to me. I checked out the price and it was only like 19.99 so I think I will pick it up. Thanks
Donna
_________________________
There is nothing to fear but fear itself

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#89137 - 09/24/06 08:43 AM Re: Safecracker II - fun and games!
looney4labs Online   content
GB Reviewer Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 42644
Loc: Alabama
Come back and let us know what you think, Donna wave
_________________________
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
-Roger Caras

Top
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