didn’t help Nick Delios unravel his first full motion video (FMV)
conspiracy, but by all accounts it was a big one. This second FMV
installment, about 8 years real time after the first and about 6 months
game time, is also big. Like all good conspiracies it involves aliens, and
throws in some clones for good measure. Add some mind control and some
very special clothing and Nick will have his work cut out for him. Being
framed for a murder won’t help.
with the sparklers, however, just might.
In fact, many things might help
Nick. So many, many things. Things you can’t imagine might be useful in
ways you couldn’t even contemplate. The giant ham was my personal
Assuming of course you can find
them. There are no hotspots in this game, and while some items look like
they should be interacted with – a lighter sitting on a bench, a lone USB
stick on a desk – there are numerous items that are just part of the
environment – a shrub in a garden, a projector in a theatre, a cupboard in
a kitchen. Numerous items are also inside boxes or cupboards or drawers or
lockers that look like just like lots of other boxes and cupboards and
drawers and lockers which either have nothing in them or you can’t
interact with them.
This gives rise to lots and lots
of clicking, and lots and lots of looking, to find the lots and lots of
things that you will need a long time after you find them.
Seek things here
All this looking is actually
exacerbated by one of the excellent aspects of Lethal Networks,
namely the ability to walk unconstrained around the game world. There is
no node-to-node progression; instead, if you can see somewhere you can
generally walk there. Once there, you can look all around and up and down,
giving the game a distinctly real world experience.
This open environment, however,
increases enormously the places you need to look. It also provides all
sorts of opportunities to put things behind a chair over against that far
wall, on a seat on the second tier of the auditorium, on the lower shelf
behind the bar. It is somewhat of a treasure hunt, and even though your
character might say something like “I can’t leave yet”, indicating there
is more to find or do, it doesn’t help you find the things you need.
To obviate this issue, the makers
have released a patch which results in a red arrow hovering over a
necessary item if you turn on the hint system. It does help, although the
arrow will only appear once you get within a certain distance, so you
still need to explore, and the arrows may be visible even though they are
pointing to things in the room next door or the floor below.
You can toggle the hint system on
and off, and I tended to switch between the two, depending on my mood and
how long I had been hunting. Call me soft, but I felt it made possible
what would otherwise not have been. Kudos to the makers for hearing the
noise and responding.
Kudos too for a further patch
which is being developed which will apparently indicate where you can use
items and also indicate other objectives. Finding things is one thing –
knowing what to do with them is another. The game environment will
indicate uses for objects in certain places, but on many occasions I had
no idea which bit of the world might be “animate” and which “inanimate”. I
don’t want painting by numbers, but neither do I want to be clicking all
sorts of objects at the world in general in the hope of finding something
Weak things here
This lack of feedback from the
game about what I was doing was one of my biggest issues. There was too
much random searching, too much aimless wandering, too much hopeful
clicking. At one point I entered a room and ended up floating. I actually
thought it was a glitch, in part because Nick was completely unresponsive
to what was happening, and the game world told me nothing. Doing things
elicited nothing, until I randomly did the right thing. I don’t mind being
stuck, but too many times I thought this game lacked any helpful feedback.
There are times when using
inventory items is a little more complicated than usual. If you try and
use an inventory item too far away from the intended object, it will
simply fall to the ground. You need to be close to things to interact with
them, which makes sense. However, some items can be used from further
away, and I suggest you check the manual to be sure you know how to do
this. I spent a lot of time throwing a slingshot on the ground until I
worked out this extra function.
Much like Darkstar, another
recent FMV game, Lethal Networks is best enjoyed by adopting a “go
with the flow” attitude, and a B Grade persona. The plot is over the top,
the characters stereotypical, and actors home grown. Nick is a rough and
tumble normal type of guy, someone you imagine as a neighbour rather than
a world saving detective. Plus he looks like he wore his very own clothes.
Ditto for much of the extensive cast.
Speak things here
Greek is the native language, and
I hate dubbed films so I played in Greek with English subtitles. A brief
foray into the dubbed English soundtrack suggested this was a wise choice.
You can in fact play in quite a few languages, but as the characters speak
Greek, any other language means you are listening to something they are
not speaking. Go with the Greek is my strong suggestion, and the English
translation is only occasionally spotty.
You can chat to quite a few of the
characters, and an extensive subject tree means you have to chat to a few
of them a lot. This is important, as many responses will be insignificant
but some are essential triggers. A door for instance will remain locked
unless you have had the necessary conversation, so ask everything of
Some characters are quite
garrulous, and more so in the cutscenes. Plot detail can come in large
spurts, so be prepared for some lengthy sequences.
The game environment in the
cutscenes looked quite good, and certainly more interesting than the 2D
game world. Music was a mixed bag, but I tend to turn it down anyway till
I almost can’t hear it. Sound effects were limited but generally suitable.
There are some out-and-out
puzzles, but the majority are inventory based. Many will keep you stuck
for a while, some good, some bordering on illogical. Some will kill you,
and you won’t know it till they do. You have to start from a saved game,
so save often.
There is a timed sequence and a
maze, both of which irritated me. The maze seemed like filler, but then I
say that about most mazes. However, you are forced to search it all to
find a few of those many, many things you don’t know you need but have to
find. Getting through the maze to your objective is not enough.
Sneak things here
You will likely fail the timed
sequence quite a few times before getting through it. It involves escaping
from a prison in a limited amount of time, and has some very illogical
actions. I turned the hints on, and then set about incrementally making
progress. I tried to learn something new each time, and would start each
sequence by doing everything I knew was right, then saving, then trying
things till I failed again. I can’t imagine completing it without the
hints. So "well done" to anyone who does.
There are two endings, depending
on a choice you make near the end. I think I got the “wrong” ending, but
will go back and play the other to see how “right” it actually is. My
ending sets the game up nicely for Conspiracies 3, and I suspect
the other one does as well.
I confess that, well before I
finished Lethal Networks, it felt like a chore rather than an
adventure. Which is a shame. It isn’t a bad game at all, just a “messy”
But it’s clearly made with a lot
of passion (check out
Becky’s interview), and the makers listen to the players. By all
accounts there were issues in the first game which have been addressed
this time and, as already noted, the makers are developing patches to
overcome some of the issues raised by players. This responsiveness should
be applauded, and the end result of two patches might just be a fine game
I played on:
OS: Win 7 professional, 64 bit
Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz
Ram: 4.00 DDR2 400MHz
Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb
Conspiracies II: Lethal Networks
purchased from the
GameBoomers Review Guidelines