The Last Express

Posted by: bigmamma1

The Last Express - 10/31/03 10:59 AM

Calling all history and old train enthusiasts-you'll love this game! Amature sleuths will too.

Vintage 1997,published by now defunct Smoking Car Productions, the game's interface allows you to go forward, L or R, and back and is mouse-controlled. a little awkward;at times I was going into and out of wrong doors. The graphics are animation-and drop dead georgeous with beautifully drawn cut scenes. the characters are sort of flat looking and two-dimensional, but are still believable with convincing facial expressions and emotions. The game is set in real time with a rewind feature that lets you reset the game back to any previous point. This is helpful because if you don't do things or talk to people at a certain time, you will miss opportunities.It helps to keep a record of when you do things and there's a handy clock in the smoking lounge.

It is the eve of World War I-July 24, 1914.All of Europe is on the brink of war. There are terrorists afoot. This may be the last run of famed Orient Express-the fabulously elegant train that ran between Paris and Constantinople-the preferred mode of travel for Anyone who was among the glitterati of the time-sort of like the now out of service Concorde of our day.

You are Robert Cath, Boarding the train at the last minute from the back of a speeding motorcycle driven by...Lara Croft?? Well, perhaps, but never mind-you're on the train-whew!

But when you get to the compartment your friend has reserved you're in for a nasty surprise. The game need to figure out what to do before it's too late.

Once you get that first problem figured out, and you're still on the train, you can go exploring and meet the other passengers.( You can meet with misfortune if you don't figure things out in time-but the game kindly rewinds and gives you another chance to replay-instead of the save game feature)

Among the characters you'll meet are the mysterious Russians-Tatania and her grandfather, Vassili. The sinister Kronos, who has a private car at the rear of the train, complete with an elegant drawing room.Anna, the beautiful musician and her guard dog.The Beautarels, a French family with a bratty little boy-he has something you need.The pompous Herr Schmidt, a German who has plenty of opinions on the politics of the day. Oh and there are the Serbs and the Turkish harem traveling with you as well. As the train rolls along you will discover all kinds of secrets and intrigue-and hopefully not get killed.

There are 3 fights you have to win that are kind of tricky-but possible with patience and trial and error.I had so much trouble with the last one, I had to use a cheat (yes there is one) to get past it.

For anyone who is a fan of the adventure genre and loves great older games, this is a not-to-be missed game and can usually be found on EBay or Amazon if it isn't already in your collection collecting dust, as mine was.

The only nagative points I find in the game are: Limited direction of the controls-awkward to find things and places. The difficulty manuvering in the fight scenes. Somewhat repetitious- having to replay over and over again to get things happening at the right time. However the game's uniqueness, beauty, and historically accurate reproduction of a pivotal time in world history offset these annoyances.

Too bad Smoking Car Productions didn't produce more. I give this game a 4**** rating. thumbsup
Posted by: Becky

Re: The Last Express - 10/31/03 04:57 PM

Bigmamma -- you brought back a lot of memories!

I agree with your assessment that this is a not-to-be-missed game. This one was ahead of its time, in my opinion, and didn't sell nearly as well as it should have partly because it was so different. I remember it getting good reviews, but I watched it as it sat on the shelf in the stores, not moving.

The graphics are beautiful as you said -- I thought they had an art nouveau feeling to them. The movement of the characters is a little jerky and odd, but I forgot about that after a short while. The game swept me away. I thought I was right there, on the train.

The story is one of the best in gaming, and even has a satisfying romantic angle.

I think there were four things that sunk this game and kept it from becoming the best-seller it should have been (this is wild speculation, of course).

It came out the same year as a lot of other unusually good adventure games, so it had lots of competition.

The timed aspect and the three combat sequences alienated some traditional adventure gamers.

There wasn't strong online support for the genre the way there is now. Word of mouth among adventure lovers didn't spread as quickly.

There was a picture of a train on the cover of the box. Although the game does take place on a train, the box just didn't grab the eye and tell the story of the game well enough or quickly enough.

Your description the game is dead-on accurate. I'm sure your review will encourage other adventurers to find and play this one!
Posted by: Zanthia

Re: The Last Express - 11/01/03 03:38 AM

this game was a huge disappointment for me as I had such high expectations for it.

what ruined the game for me was the real time nature of it. SOmetimes you just had to let time pass for something ot happen and other times two things were happening at the same time and if you didn't time it right oyu would miss out on both events.. And then there was that terrible save system if i recall correctly where you had to turn back time to restore to an earlier save. I enjoyed the plot a lot but if only it played like a standard adventure game it could have been great. Such potential for the game. perhap others felt the same way i did and that is why it didn't sell well.
Posted by: Becky

Re: The Last Express - 11/01/03 07:55 AM

Yeah, the save system stunk. It looked beautiful, but it was a bear to use, even when you figured out how. I was playing the game at the same time as another family member, and it drove us nuts trying to figure out where each of us was on the decorative egg.
Posted by: bigmamma1

Re: The Last Express - 11/02/03 09:39 AM

I agree that the real time thing and the constantly having to rewind and replay parts of it was a major drawback for the game-which is why I didn't give it a 5 star rating, but the story and the characters were great enough to sort of make up for it.
Posted by: Betje

Re: The Last Express - 11/02/03 09:58 AM

Originally posted by Becky:
Yeah, the save system stunk. It looked beautiful, but it was a bear to use, even when you figured out how. I was playing the game at the same time as another family member, and it drove us nuts trying to figure out where each of us was on the decorative egg.
You can each have your own egg. There are five or six eggs in different colors.

If you allow the game to decide what is the best time to resume the game from a position where you can still win, the save system ceases to be a problem. Rewinding it yourself may lead to dead ends.
Posted by: Mad

Re: The Last Express - 11/02/03 10:17 AM

Hi bigmamma1 smile

Nice review !!

Sorry to say though that I felt the same way as Zanthia about this game.

Was truly disappointed frown


Mad wave
Posted by: Drizzt

Re: The Last Express - 11/03/03 09:37 AM

I liked the game alot. Good review smile

What was the cheat for getting past that last fight? Had to replay it again and again and again.
Posted by: bigmamma1

Re: The Last Express - 11/06/03 08:41 AM

Drizzt, Heres the cheat:
^Exit to the clock. rewind once,then go back back to fight, keep repeating this until the fight ends
Posted by: GuybrushThreepwood

Re: The Last Express - 11/06/03 11:12 AM

I just finished the game. I didn't like it. The real time thing spoiled it for me. If I didn't skip some scenes the game would end prematurely. Those fights, especially the last one were too hard. If I wanted an action game I'd have bought one. The game goes right into my to trade stack.

I forgot, the setup in the CD root directory crashed. I had to run the setup in the Windows directory which also crashed. I ran it a second time , it installed the game but not the uninstal data file. So I had to manuall remove the game after I finished it.
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: The Last Express - 11/10/03 11:05 PM

I'm with Xanthia and Mad. Only worse.
I didn't get far in Last Express. I didn't like the "save" system. It confused the $&#@! out of me and several other games started looking really good.

As someone else once said, the save system is not the place for game developers to start getting creative.

I also didn't like that I was missing things, no matter what I did, because of the real time business.

The game came in a nice box though.
Posted by: Gamer

Re: The Last Express - 11/16/03 06:11 PM

Alot of adventure gamers really love this game, I am not one of them, didnt care for it at all, I was really surprised so many of you feel the same way, I used to think I was the only one. smile