I've been playing 'In Cold Blood' for the last three weeks, and finished it last night.
This game is certainly worth a look. Especially if you need a change of tack without, necessarily, a change of genre.
First of all, it's definitely an Action/Adventure, and there is lots of shooting in it. The shooting is auto-aimed and, if you don't mind, and are comfortable with this form of assisted combat in games, you'll find this aspect of the game a stroll.
In 'In Cold Blood' you play John Cord, contracted by the British Secret Service, and sent to an anarchic Eastern European republic to help the the British-U.S. alliance trace the whereabouts of a missing U.S. operative. The operative, in question, had been deployed to investigate mysterious goings-on in a mining corporation, controlled by the nefarious leader of the said republic.
There is a very good, and strong, story to this intelligently constructed game from 'Revolution' - the same company that brought us 'Lure of the Temptress', 'Beneath A Steel Sky', and the 'Broken Sword' games.
Character development is pretty impressive. Environments are too, as are the spectacular cut-scenes, but the atmosphere is more moody and dark than spectacularly stunning. There's one slightly yucky setting/ area, if you're a bit squeemish, and there's one yucky cut-scene toward the end. However, I, as always, played this game with my children, and there was nothing in the game that would not be shown pre-watershed time on our T.V. screens. There's NO blood visible when shooting.
It IS possible to get through the whole game without dieing once, but you'd have to be VERY good. Each time you run low on ammunition, or 'life', there is plenty ready-to-hand. If you're not running low, there isn't. Clever !
There are at least three timed situations, and you need to know what you're doing, but failing once or twice causes no problems as there are 100 save slots and I save very, very frequently in all games. You can save anywhere, even during a timed sequence. The timed sequences are mostly very generously apportioned.
The game is not a mouse-control game. The game is also NOT a keyboard-only game. I didn't use keyboard at all ! I used my trusty Sidewinder Gamepad which, as I have debated before, is, with most games, a complete doddle to use compared with the keyboard. Only four buttons are fairly frequently used, plus an almost constant, but effortless, depression of the front 'run' button. For the most part, I only used the front 'run' button and the directional button. The others are just for inventory, computer (with map), sneak, and shoot. It's really very simple and not by any means as frightening as many would suggest.
As well as shooting, some sneaking is necessary (a little similar to 'Metal Gear Solid', if you've played that). Sneaking is needed to pass certain points undetected and to creep up on someone to knock them out. It's great fun !
All the puzzles are easy, and very logical, but very satisfying also. The combat, as I said, is also very easy. It's third person, so I find combat far easier than when 'it's me !'. I play 9/10 pure Adventure games and 1/10 Action/Adventure, so I'm not adept at shooting games.
There aren't any big-boss battles ......... bar one. Yes. There is one, of sorts. The battle is, actually, more of a puzzle than a battle, and the 'thing' is easily evaded, giving you plenty of time to suss-out the way of seeing him off. It's a very, very pleasing part of the game.
There's a lot of conversation in the game, but no conversation trees. Conversation is prompted by icons ; If you see an elevator icon when you address a person, you end up talking about an ....... elevator !
My main criticisms of the game would be ; It's a little too dark ; I experience two crash points, that were easily circumnavigated by loading the previous save ; One very slightly possible dead-end that, again, was very easily avoided, but I spent some time trying to 'beat' this particular situation, because I didn't want to take the easy option. In the end I took the obvious, easy option, which seemed the more illogical option also.
One oft spoken snippet criticism of 'In Cold Blood' has been regarding the directional controls. It does take a little practice to get your hero, John Cord, to run in a straight line, but it is REALLY only a matter of 10 minutes practice and the game is easy, so you're not under threat of death whilst getting used to this.
I didn't need a walkthrough, though there are plenty in existence.
There was one smashing Easter Egg that I found - It was very easily found. Very appropriate as it's Easter Sunday today !
I wouldn't rank it as good as 'Outcast', which is in my top three of all games, and I would say it is far easier than the Tomb Raider games. It's easier than 'Max Payne' too, and that was pretty easy, but gory -ish.
It's a fairly long game and spans three CDs. You play the CDs in order, with no other swapping. You load the game from the disk that you were last playing.
One 'serious' review site had as it's main criticism that the game was destined to fail as a BIG, BIG seller because it was neither an Action game, for die-hard shooter-fans, nor an Adventure game for Adventure purists, because of the action elements. It was also stated that the game would have been better suited to being a point-and-click game due to this halfway-house nature.
I entirely agree on the first point regarding mass appeal, but I disagree on the second. For Adventurers to whom a little spiced-up action gameplay is attractive, and to whom a 'change is as good as a rest', I fully endorse 'In Cold Blood' as a temporary release and point-and-click appetite replenisher. For the record, I gave 'In Cold Blood' 88%
.......... I gave 'Outcast' . . 97%
! P.S. ; 'In Cold Blood' would succeed as a movie script. The formula is there !