First Look - Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

Posted by: infernoj13usa

First Look - Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened - 01/05/07 06:25 PM

First Look
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

“Intense mental concentration has a curious way
of blotting out what has passed.”(HOUN)

It makes sense to me that the third Sherlock Homes adventure developed by Frogwares would look to have evolved with some interesting improvements:

Real-time 3D graphics, an even more haunting and tense underscore giving rise to mysterious mood and atmosphere. A seemingly vast game universe to get lost in --- care for a stroll through the docks at night, anyone? I particularly enjoyed the way the opening sequence moves one through the streets of London as though one were flying on the wings of Hecate.

Another improvement is the Main Menu and Inventory section. Here one can easily find game options which include all sorts of switches to tailor the graphics capabilities of one’s video card. We can also find a completely mappable keyboard (a boon for those of us who are “left-handed” … keep in mind though if keyboarding is not your cup of tea (as it were), The Awakened will play through solely on mouse capability. Use either or both for your gaming comfort. I will say, though, that the mouse does take a few minutes to get used to, but if you are like me --- once you do, you will see just how inviting it will be to wander throughout the streets of London. Real-time 3D is lovely for total game immersion. And makes for a wonderfully new aspect for this series in my humble opinion.

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible,
whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” (SIGN)

The inventory is quite large and is divided into groups. One section is for storing the objects that you will need to use, either as Dr. Watson or Holmes during the adventure. Combinations can also be completed here as well as some mechanical manipulation, such as combining a knife with a wrapped box to remove the outer packaging and open the box to get to the object logged inside of it when necessary. The next section is a “diary” of sorts, which houses the various dialogues you will come across during the game. This is a marvelous element to use for clues when sleuthing, mind you. There is another section for documents of all kinds (my mild complaint here is that, as in the previous games, the reading fonts are still too small for me to read… ah well more’s the pity). There is also a separate section where all of Holmes’ forensic reports will be stored. Last but not least is an interactive map of the places that Holmes and Watson will visit. Once you have visited a location you can use the map to “morph” to it by simply clicking on the icon for that specific location. (I especially loved this design; quite user friendly and does wonders for the old carpal tunnel.) Another helpful feature: as you gain a piece of information, dialogue, evidence or what not – a small icon with a specific color will appear at the upper right of the screen. This tells you where to locate this tidbit in your inventory – very nice.

The question and answer quizzes are present again – but a tad harder with this go-round. They are not multiple choice. The gamer will have to type the correct answer in to advance. The gamer will play either the great detective or the gentle doctor as befits the scene. This is done of course in first person perspective as the need to change the characters between the intrepid Sherlock Homes and Stalwart Dr. Watson arises. The few puzzles I came across during the preview were varied. I found the inventory, mechanical, analytical, sliders and quizzical puzzles … all very captivating.

“From the point of view of the criminal expert,
London has become a singularly uninteresting city
since the death of the late lamented Professor Moriarty.” (NORW)

We open Act One with Dr. Watson and Holmes at Holmes’ beautifully appointed apartments at 221B Baker street. The year is 1894. Mr. Holmes uses much of this scene to set a tone, revealing how bored he is with London. He laments the fact that the Scotland Yard must indeed be doing their job well, as there are no crimes to interest him. Heh, heh – well, we all know what happens when you beg the question don’t we, my dear Sherlock…

Dr. Watson tells Holmes that he must leave to render some aid to a patient and departs, while Holmes decides to take a leisurely stroll to Barnes Bookshop. After a rather whimsical discourse with Barnes, Sherlock meets up with Dr. Watson at the home of Captain M. Stenweck. Dr. Watson implores Holmes to speak with the Captain and Constable Rufles, who is also in attendance. It seems that the Captain’s young manservant -- a recent immigrant from an Aboriginal tribe in Australia -- has gone missing. He apparently has gone off with no money and no knowledge of English or any other languages save his own.

“My name is Sherlock Holmes.
It is my business to know what other people don't know.” (BLUE)

Foul play is indeed suspected, and confirmed by our intrepid detective after he examines the Captain’s backyard garden and shed. Indeed Holmes decides to take the case. After a return to Baker Street and some forensic experiments, study and a short quiz for Watson, Holmes announces his theories. It seems someone is kidnapping young unfortunate men from the lower classes of London. And our beloved duo has taken up the gauntlet to find out why. Holmes is convinced that they will find their answers at The Docks and we’re off into the night and on to Act Two. It is here that they will make a most horrifying (I warn those of you who may faint at the sight of death and disfigurement!) discovery that will plunge them into the macabre world of the ancients, human sacrifice and general mayhem.

“But there are always some lunatics about.
It would be a dull world without them.”(3GAB)

The minimum specifications for the game are:
  • Supported OS: Windows® 2000/XP (only)
  • Processor: Pentium® 1 GHz and AMD Athlon™
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Video Card: 64 MB DirectX® 9-compliant video card
    NVIDIA® GeForce™ 4Mx and above
    ATI® Radeon™ 8000/9000 families and above
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9-compliant sound card
  • DirectX Version: DirectX 9 or higher (included on disc)
  • CD-ROM or DVD-ROM: 8x CD-ROM or 2x DVD-ROM
  • Hard Drive Space: 3 GB free
  • Peripherals: Windows-compatible keyboard and mouse

It should be noted that the final release of this game will not include an intrusive copy protection application. Well, done Holmes!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Although the preview code from which inferno wrote this First Look did use StarForce, the retail version of The Awakened does NOT contain StarForce. The version on store shelves contains a different, much less intrusive form of copy protection.

This seems to be quite a demanding, graphically intense adventure. Even on my powerful rig, I did experience the odd lockup or two. So one would be wise to pay attention to the game’s specifications.

"I play the game for the game's own sake." (BRUC)

With that all said, I can tell you no more without giving away more of the plot. I enjoyed my brief sojourn with Mr. Holmes, the affable Dr. Watson and the first two acts of The Awakened.
After all, as Holmes so succinctly put it …

"Come, Watson, come!
The game is afoot.
Not a word! Into your clothes and come!" (ABBE)


Quotes of Sherlock Holmes:

(HOUN) The Hound of the Baskervilles
(3GAB) Adventure of the 3 Gables 
(SIGN) Sign of the Four
(NORW) The Adventure of the Norwood Builder
{BLUE} The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
(BRUC) The Adventure of Black Peter
(ABBE) The Adventure of the Abbey Grange

Would you like to learn more about Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened? Read the full review by Becky.