and CD game, a Greek version is currently available on CD. GotGame
Interactive has decided to release the DVD and CD versions packaged
together in the same box when they publish Conspiracies for the
North American audience.
Inventory manipulation is mouse-controlled: point-and-click (or
Movement is controlled with the arrow keys
scenes are FMV
possible to die in the game
was developed by a Greek company, Anima Ppd / Interactive, and is
available in both Greek and English versions. It seems to have taken
some inspiration from the Tex Murphy games. Both Conspiracies and
the Tex games take place in a dystopic future, yet neither are
depressing games. Both feature a "hero" with a somewhat wry sense of
humor. Like the Tex games, Conspiracies gives conversation
choices which are not fully spelled out and which sometimes produce
unexpected dialog from the protagonist. But there are differences too
and Conspiracies has its own style.
future as depicted in the world of Conspiracies is a troubled
time. The game takes place sometime around the mid 21st century and most
of mankind's current problems still exist. Overpopulation, environmental
degradation, unemployment, and crime are worse than ever. The Earth is
a united federation of city states, but the system is corrupted and the
world is essentially controlled by political lobbies, organized crime,
and big companies. Humanity has become ever more dependent on drugs,
both legal and otherwise, to cope with its problems.
character, Nick Delios, once had a promising career ahead of him in the
field of medical technology. That was before Dimitris Argiriou, head of
Nick's research team, stole Nick's work and took credit for Nick's
invention. When Nick complained, Argiriou promptly threw him off the
research team and cancelled Nick's upcoming wedding to Annita,
Argiriou's sister. The disheartened Nick descended into a life of
drinking and gambling. Ultimately he started earning a living as a
detective, specializing in industrial espionage.
opens with a black screen. Ominous music plays as a text description of
the unhappy state of the world in the 21st century scrolls upwards. The
music changes and you find yourself flying over a grassy field and
through an open tunnel into a 21st century city. Flying over the
futuristic city was one of my favorite moments in the game and I wish I
could have seen more aerial views of this fantastic city.
the opening video, there is a short, introductory, semi-interactive part
of the game which is mostly FMV. You can't really explore, but you are
occasionally given the option of different conversational moods or
topics. There is not much variation in what happens in this part of the
game, regardless of what topics you choose. Those who are sensitive to
spoilers may wish to skip the rest of this section.
Initially we find Nick busy gambling. He has had too much to drink and
is having a hot streak of luck - or thinks he is. An attractive woman of
questionable virtue hangs on his arm. Nick's luck does not hold out. He
gambles everything on a pair of dice and they come up snake eyes. The
woman immediately loses interest, leaving Nick alone with his debts.
Nick laments the situation and orders a drink. The unsympathetic
bartender has the bouncer throw him out. Then a tough guy shows up to
forceably escort Nick to a man with an offer Nick cannot refuse. The
offer comes from Argiriou, Nick's old nemesis and the author of his fall
from grace. Argiriou has bought all Nick's debts and can have him thrown
in some deep dark jail, never to be seen again, unless Nick cooperates.
What choice does Nick have? He agrees to work for Argiriou.
somehow finds his way home and sleeps it off. He gets a message from his
old friend, Police Inspector Thanos Pekas. A small-time crook, Mikes,
has been murdered and Pekas seems to think there's more to the case than
meets the eye. He asks Nick to investigate the murder unofficially and
offers to pay him handsomely for his trouble. What choice does Nick
have? He agrees to take the case for Pekas.
Nick wakes up in his apartment, you gain control and can explore the 3D
environment. This part of the game introduces you to the interface in a
safe location. But not much can be done until you discover how to get
Nick to leave his apartment. He needs his morning coffee first, but his
water has been shut off because he couldn't afford to pay his water
bill. Eventually he figures out a way to get his caffeine fix, but
remind me never to have coffee at Nick's place.
the course of the game Nick visits offices, warehouses, nightclubs,
various private residences, a sewer, a space station, and even goes back
in time on an errand for Argiriou.
review copy, which came on a DVDR disc, included installation options
both for Greek and English. When choosing what version to install, I was
presented with a screen that showed a folder with two subfolders - one
for Greek and one for English. It's a bit unusual to see a language
choice presented in this manner, but not hard to figure out.
default installation requires about 4 GB according to the listed minimum
specs. But this must include plenty of space for saved games. I made 74
saved games, the largest of which was 426K, and the total space taken up
by the installation was about 1.7 GB. Perhaps extra space is needed
simply to install the game, but I think they're being cautious.
took about 10 minutes to install using my 4X DVD drive. I assume it
would take less time with a faster drive and faster computer (mine was
1.2 GHz). Most of the game is stored in .cab files on the DVD so some
decompression is done during the install. I assume the 30 GB that is
listed under the "Recommended" specs is to copy the entire game to the
hard drive so it doesn't have to read off the DVD at all. I used the
default 4 GB installation and didn't notice any lags during play other
than at load screens.
review copy came with a text printout in which references are made to
pictures that aren't there. I assume the retail version of the manual
will include the pictures.
most part, the game is intuitive. Arrow keys move you around. The
spacebar brings up the inventory. But there are some manipulations that
are not so obvious, such as how to examine certain inventory items in
detail. In one puzzle you have to reassemble a torn up letter, which
involves both moving the pieces around the screen and turning them over.
For these manipulations, it's easier to consult the documentation than
to figure it out on your own.
thing that was missing in the printout I received was the fact that you
can move around considerably faster if you hold down the Shift key while
using the arrow keys. Being able to "run" is crucial for a couple of
technical point of view, graphics were mixed. Overall they were very
good and the game offers several display options (see the Game
Options Menu section below). But they weren't perfect. The FMV
sequences tended to be a bit fuzzy, especially in background areas. When
there were FMV people inserted into the game environment, and you
approached them from the side, they appeared flattened.
Artistically, the design of the gameworld was very good. Some areas had
animations, such as a passing subway car and an aircar slowly moving
across the sky. Many of the buildings have a sort of Art Deco look.
Others look very "industrial."
environments were very clean-looking and looked a bit surrealistic. The
gameworld isn't depressing and gritty, as you might expect a dystopic
future world to look. This may have been because of the limits of the
game engine and the time it would take to render a lot of dirt and
grime. But I think I prefer the gameworld looking clean on the surface,
with the real dirt and corruption festering beneath.
pleasantly surprised by the quality of the acting in Conspiracies.
Some of the characters seemed a bit stereotyped. For example, Argiriou
seemed a lot like a mafia boss. But that didn't really detract from the
game and sometimes added to the humor.
character, Nick, comments on the things you right-click on. I enjoyed
his comments. He has a pleasant voice and a sense of humor about what he
is commenting on.
the voice actors are better than others. I have no idea whether the
actors you see on the screen are the same actors you hear. The original
actors spoke Greek and the English version of the game has speech in
English. The lip synch is matched up well enough that the lips move
while the words are being spoken. But no one who reads lips would be
fooled. In general, the male voice actors were better than the female
Effects and Music
effects were good. Things sounded like what they were supposed to sound
like. Some puzzles had audio feedback, such as the sound of a lock
opening, to let you know you'd accomplished something.
music is not bad, though it can get repetitive if you're in the same
location for a while. In one part of the game you hear Nick's favorite
band play and get an autographed CD from the lead singer. It also
contains a clue, so be sure to examine your prize.
around the game using the arrow keys. Forward and back arrow keys move
you forward and back. Side arrows allow you to sidestep. You can steer,
look up, and look down with the mouse. But you can't squat or stand on
your tippytoes, which makes collecting a couple of the inventory items a
bit tricky. Movement is continuous 3D movement. There is no "bobbing" as
you move around - good news for those who are prone to motion sickness.
Holding down the Shift key while moving will cause Nick to "run."
between game locations is accomplished via a game map. The map sometimes
appears when you click on the proper door to exit. At other times
clicking on an elevator control panel will summon the map. The escape
key backs you away from the map if you access it by mistake. Available
locations show up as red spots on the map. Hovering your cursor over one
of these spots will open a tool-tip style description of the location.
The map is shaped like a cube, with all sides except the top and bottom
available for viewing. You hold down the left mouse button and drag to
rotate the cube and access the other three sides.
spacebar opens your inventory. You can close the inventory either by
clicking the spacebar again or by moving the cursor outside the
Left-clicking on an accessible object will allow you to pick it up or
interact with it. Objects can be combined in inventory by clicking first
on one, then the other. Right-clicking on something will cause Nick to
make a comment about it, if a comment is available. Right-clicking an
object in inventory will display an enlarged view of the object as well
as invoking a comment from Nick. This can be useful when you are rooting
through drawers and closets and find things you aren't sure if you want
or not. And some of Nick's comments are pretty funny.
has a few methods of allowing you to get rid of unwanted items in
inventory. You can drop them on the floor. Or you can drop them in the
trash can in your apartment and set fire to them. If you can't get them
to fall in the trash, chances are you will need them at some point in
the future. You also have a pet plant, Nionios, which will sometimes eat
things you feed it, though Nionios turned out to be a fussier eater than
Nick had led me to believe. It's a good thing you can get rid of
inventory because you only have 27 slots in your inventory and the game
allows you to pick up stuff you don't need. The inventory is a 3 row 9
column grid and appears when you use the spacebar.
a game you use the F4 key. This is actually pretty easy, but I was
confused at first because I was expecting a save screen to appear, which
would allow me to choose a saved slot or name my save. When no save
screen came up, I wondered if something wasn't working, even though the
game was displaying "save complete" at the bottom of the page. But all
was fine. It just works like a "Quick Save" in action/adventure games.
a game is nowhere near as convenient as saving. To load a game, you
first hit the Escape key to bring up the main menu. Next you click on
the name of your player. Then you highlight your saved game of choice
and click the Load button.
saved games appeared as small screenshots labeled in Greek with a date
and time. I expect the Greek labeling will be corrected in the retail
version. If it isn't, you can still read the numbers. The documentation
I got referred to the small screenshots as "icons," which is something
else they could correct in the manual that comes with the retail
version. One problem with the load system, besides the fact that it
takes several clicks to load a game, is that there is a delete button
right next to the load button. It is too easy to click the delete button
by not watching what you're doing closely enough. It is also possible to
delete your Player name with a delete button over toward the right, and
that would be an even bigger catastrophe. An "are you sure" button would
have been helpful.
allows multiple players and unlimited saves - provided you have the hard
drive space. You can delete old saves from the load screen if they're
taking up too much room. The game saves are unusual in that for each
save, the game creates a folder with a bunch of files in it. When you
delete a save, the folder remains, but is empty of files.
inventory objects can be flipped and turned over. These items don't just
return to inventory when you're done examining them and you must use the
Escape key in order to put them back in inventory. For example, in one
case you're required to turn over a photograph in your inventory in
order to read what is on the back. For this, you must click and drag the
left mouse button while holding down the Control key. I was not able to
maneuver this puzzle very well. The best I could do was get the photo
turned over and upside down. I never could figure out how to get it
turned over and right side up for easy reading. In another part of the
game, I had to piece together torn bits of paper. This required dragging
the pieces away from each other by using the Control key and dragging
them with the right mouse button held down, then orienting them with the
left mouse button, then dragging them into place. Fortunately you aren't
required to manipulate very many inventory items in this manner. I've
played games with similar puzzles where it was much easier to maneuver
Left-clicking the mouse during FMV sequences will pause them. Another
left-click causes them to continue.
Right-click the mouse to skip videos. This is useful for skipping the
introduction that plays when you start the game. It would have been more
convenient if it were possible to skip the introduction before having to
wait for it to load. It's a nice introduction, but I don't want to see
it every single time I start the game. I enjoyed the part where you fly
over the city every time I saw it. But the scrolling letters on the
black screen got a bit old by the 10th time I restarted the game, and it
isn't possible to skip only the first part of the video. Loading the
game took about 55 seconds on my computer and I kept wondering how much
of that time was spent loading the introductory video.
screen allows you to change graphics, display, and sound options.
include resolution, color depth (16-bit or 32-bit), "(W-Z) buffer"
(16-bit or 24-bit), graphics detail (low, medium, or high), and
antialias (none, x2, or x4). Possible resolutions include 640x480,
704x480, 720x480, 800x600, 848x480, and 856x480. I chose 800x600
resolution, 32-bit color depth, 16-bit (W-Z) buffer, high graphics
detail, and no antialias.
include gamma, brightness, and contrast settings. I noticed that after
quitting the game my desktop settings would revert to their original
default instead of the custom gamma settings I'd set up for my desktop
long before I ever installed the game. As soon as I clicked on the Color
tab in my desktop's Advanced Display Properties (Start\Settings\Control
Panel\Display\Settings\Advanced\Color tab) the gamma returned to my
custom setting. OKing it brought my desktop back to normal. I assume a
reboot would have done the same thing. But apparently the game
interfaces with the video card's gamma settings directly instead of
affecting only the game. At least that's how it seemed with my ATI
include separate volume controls for Music and Sound Effects.
Unfortunately none for Voice. There are also Reverse Left/Right and
Reverse Front/Back options in case your speakers are confused.
I clicked "Apply" to save the settings - even if my only change was to
the sound settings - my screen would go black for a few seconds. If this
happens to you, just wait and it should right itself soon.
Escape key backs you out of the Options menu.
Unfortunately there was no option for subtitles in the Options menu -
bad news for the hearing-impaired and those who speak English as a
second language and don't speak Greek at all.
the puzzles are inventory based. Some involve combining items. Some
involve manipulating inventory - flipping it or moving it around.
Picking up inventory is not usually that difficult, but you do have to
be close enough to it, yet not too close. I did have difficulty getting
one item out of a cabinet that was close to the floor. Too near the
cabinet and I couldn't see the item. Too far back and I was out of
range. Being able to squat would have helped a lot here. I also had
trouble getting a necessary inventory item out of a trunk. At first I
completely missed the object. After getting stuck and checking a
walkthrough to find out what was necessary, I still had trouble
acquiring the item. Instead of picking up the object, I'd end up closing
the trunk. So I'd have to open it again. After many many tries, I
eventually succeeded. But I could not even see what I was supposed to be
aiming at clearly. I had a similar problem later on with a piece of
paper that was in a box with a lot of other papers. At least with the
paper, I eventually noticed it highlighted. I never noticed the object
in the trunk highlighting. An adjustable zoom feature would have helped.
puzzles involve choosing the correct conversation topic or mood. It's
best to save before entering conversations, because the wrong choice may
make the game unwinnable. In some cases you are allowed another chance
and can correct your mistakes. And in others it doesn't matter what you
choose. But it's best to save, just in case.
was one maze - a hedge maze in a space station, of all places. This maze
was the only part of the game where I had real trouble with motion
sickness. I had a similar problem in Pandora Directive when I was
exploring the pyramid near the end. It's due to some sort of
relationship between the narrowness of the walls and the speed at which
they pass as you move along. Mapping mazes is hard enough for me to do
with node-based movement. With the continuous movement in
Conspiracies it was impossible for me to map the hedge maze. But I
eventually found my way to where I needed to go using the right-hand
rule and its converse, the left-hand rule.
reflex-impaired (some spoilers)
are a few places in the game where you have to be quick. In one place
you have to throw a rubber ducky full of swimming pool water onto a
robotic dog before the dog chews you up. The trick here is to be close
enough to the dog to throw the ducky on it and quick enough to throw the
ducky before the dog takes a bite out of you. My trouble here was not
the speed so much as throwing the ducky in the right place. You only get
one try and don't have time to retreat after throwing it.
another place you have to run from an explosion before it blasts you.
This is actually pretty easy once you remember the Shift key that gets
the lead out of your britches. But you'll never escape the explosion
unless you run.
another part of the game, you have to time the movement of homicidal
robots that patrol the halls and make a dash for it when it's "safe."
This is the part of the game that held me up the longest and I had to
get outside advice on getting past it from more than one source. It
actually isn't so hard once you've figured out which direction to run
to. But you do have to be quick. Once you've found Prokopiou and gotten
into his cell, your problems are over. And his cell is right at the end
of a hall where you can see him stretched out. Getting into the cell
next to his is trivial by comparison. And once you do that, you can find
a way to disarm the remaining robots without having to race them. You
can reach Prokopiou's cell from the elevator in two runs, making one
stop at a station with a bunch of computer displays where the robots
will not attack you. But discovering which way to run takes trial and
error, and the load screens get very long.
managed to get stuck between a chair and the wall and was not able to
extricate myself. I had to return to a saved game. So watch out for
weirdness with my desktop gamma setting is described above under Game
Options Menu. Ideally, the game would have returned the settings to
the way I had them set before starting the game, and not to the
encountered a bug where I was not able to pick up a necessary inventory
item. This bug is apparently only in the English version, not the Greek,
and has been corrected in a patch which can currently be downloaded from
North American release of the game will incorporate the patch, but if by
some chance you get the same edition of the game that I did, and play in
English, you may need the patch.
II 400 or Celeron 466
card with 16 MB video RAM
hard drive space
98 and higher (must support DirectX 8.1)
Recommended System Specs
III 1 GHz or AMD with 1 GHz processor
card with 64 MB video RAM
hard drive space
98 and higher (must support DirectX 8.1)
really understand why they list "30 GB hard drive space" here. I assume
the 30 GB of hard drive space is for copying the entire DVD to the hard
drive. But I don't see how the game would take up that much space unless
you made a gazillion saves.
Athlon 1.2 GHz
Radeon 8500 128 MB
Fortissimo II sound card
4X/4X/4X/24X Toshiba DVD combo drive (DVD read speed = 4X)
the game was a lot of fun. My biggest gripes are with the inconvenient
method of loading the game and the slow loading time. I thought my
relatively slow 4X DVD drive might be partially responsible. But when
loading saves, the game didn't seem to be accessing the drive. I
wouldn't have minded the loading so much if it only took place in the
beginning of the game or at the beginning of chapters. But in areas
where you can die a lot, like the halls with the evil robots, it's
necessary to do some experimenting before you can progress. And those
load screens start to get really tiresome. In future games I hope Anima
provides a "Quick Load" as well as a "Quick Save," especially if they
continue to have puzzles like the robot puzzle in their games.
problem I had with the game was with thinking an object was not
collectible when in fact I was simply standing too close to it or too
far away from it to pick it up. In the case with the ring in the trunk,
it was a pixel hunt for something I couldn't see clearly in the first
place. And I would never have found it if I hadn't cheated with a
overall the game did many things right. It was refreshing to see real
people in the cut scenes instead of 3D dolls. The acting was mostly
good and the main character was enjoyable to play. The plot was good,
though it seemed a bit rushed towards the end.
have preferred to have more views of the city. It isn't essential for
the game, but I enjoyed that view in the opening video so much that I
was hoping to see more. But there were never any transition videos when
Nick moved around the city via the map. His car looks like it could fly,
but you never get to go for a ride in it along with Nick and see more of
the city. This is one time where I'd have enjoyed doing a bit more
exploring instead of always using the map to instantly appear in other
recommend Conspiracies to almost anyone who enjoys adventure
games, particularly if they enjoy detective-type games. Overall I'd give
the game a "B" rating. It did many things well. But problems with
slow load screens and an occasionally awkward interface keep it from
being an "A" game.
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