What is it?
More pirates? And what's more, a sequel about pirates? What's with the
games industry and this constantly re-treading ... uh, hold on a minute,
why don't we actually try playing the new game before getting on the
high horse and ranting away like another broken record? Sheesh! These
games reviews really seem to be struggling to write anything new these
days, and all they want to do is repeat the same old same old... eeek!
now where was I? Oh yes, Jack Keane 2 - the Fire Within is here.
This is a sequel to Jack Keane, a game I played back in
2007, and whilst the plot and some of the characters were in the
previous game, there is no need to have solved Jack's previous
conundrums concerning Dr T to play the new game. Both games were
published by Deck 13 Interactive, from Germany, but this time, the game
is available via Steam as well as a number of other sources. (The
original game is on Steam now, but it wasn't back in 2007).
Is there a plot?
done it again. He's in trouble with the law, and this time they caught
up with him, and dumped him in the massive fortified prison that is
Shanghai Island Prison. But, as luck would have it, Amanda is closing in
on the island with a plan for his rescue. The only problem is that her
crew are not exactly International Rescue! Things start to go wrong very
mean time, Jack discovers that his cell-mate is a shaman of Ukumba; a
great treasure that must be protected at all costs. Unfortunately,
Jack's cell mate passes away before the full secret of its location can
be passed on. So now Jack has two problems - decipher the clues from the
shaman and escape from Shanghai Island... and he has to beat
Skullcrusher the ummm... wrestler? cage-fighter? beast?
story will take you around the globe: through conflict in China,
industrial action in Germany, and confusion in North Africa. And there
will be help and hindrance in equal measure from the wildlife, the new
people and the well-known (at least if you played Jack Keane),
the environment, and technology - always one of Jack's staunchest
How do you play?
Keane 2 is a point and click adventure, with
the usual mix of keyboard controls mixed in. Most of the time, the mouse
is completely sufficient, but the movement keys are needed when things
get a little more fiddly. The environments in which you play are quite
open 3D locations, however the story is quite linear. You can't really
change the order in which things take place as you mostly have one
objective to solve at a time. There are a few places where you have
choices of where to go on a map, but even then, there's really only one
puzzle at a time that will actually progress the game. The effect, of
course, is that the game is very heavily plot driven, which is just
fine, because the plot is an entertaining story.
most games of this type, there are points in the story where you give up
control for a cut-scene. Almost all of these are rendered in the game
engine, not as separate animations, so the switch back to you being in
control is almost seamless.
menu is just what you'd expect: Continue game, Start new game, Load
game, Settings, Credits, Quit. Nothing surprising there. Once you're in
the game, you get a small menu panel in the top left corner of the
screen with buttons for Save (a pen), Examine (a magnifying glass), Jump
(a spring), Main Menu (a wheel), Highlight objects (a light bulb), and
your current objective (a book). Most of those also have hot-keys. For
example, Jack will jump if you hit the space bar. I didn't find the
object highlighter of much use in the game as most of the time, the
objects you can pick up are pretty obvious. I would have found it more
helpful if it had been a more general Hotspot finder, but it's not.
inventory (or Amanda's when you're playing as her) is a list of icons
across the top of the screen. You can right click to examine items
(sometimes this will modify them), and you can click and drag items onto
the main scene, or combine them to make new ones. Your inventory is
never more than six or seven objects, and often just one or two.
quite a lot of talking going on in Jack Keane 2, and for once,
the conversation options you choose actually have a bearing on how
certain relationships turn out in the game. I've only played the story
emphasizing one particular direction in those choices, so I don't know
how it turns out if you play the other way (or balance the two more
other significant part of the game play is the fighting. Now I don't
mean a scare-the-horses, first-person, rail-gun toting, alien-fest. It's
more of a turn-based, reactive sort of thing. Jack's opponent (and it's
always Jack doing the fighting) will start a move in slow motion, and
you have to select a response from the 'playing cards' shown at the
bottom of the screen. You have about 10 seconds to choose, or your
opponent will knock you down. Jack can only take one or two hits before
being defeated. If you chose the correct defense against the attack,
Jack is allowed to chose a responding attack to try to knock his
opponent down. Again, you chose a card from the available set, and you
have about 10 seconds to choose. A number of the fights rely on Jack
being defeated, and then going off and learning a new move that will
prove to be the key to beating a particular opponent. Thankfully, 10
seconds is longer than it sounds, and the cards are quite readable, and
of a decent size, so the only difficult part of the fighting scenes is
knowing what the correct response is to each starting manoeuvre; the
selection of starting manoeuvre might be random, but the correct
response is always consistent, it's just a question of whether Jack
actually knows the correct response yet.
design style of Jack Keane is maintained in this sequel - lush
vegetation, bold cartoon-style scenes, detailed machinery, good
character animation. The look of the game is very well expressed in the
box and web-site art.
voice acting is good, to very good. Even the gorilla! The rest of the
sound-track is suitably swash-buckling and piratical.
Any other novelties?
movement system in Jack Keane 2 is, um, a little odd. You can
mostly point and hold the mouse button down and Jack runs towards
the mouse, except when Jack needs to jump up or over things, which
doesn't fit very well with the 'holding the mouse down to move' control
mechanic. You can also use the W, A, S, and D keys, with the space key
to jump instead, but the frame of reference for the motion with the keys
was odd too - sometimes it seemed relative to Jack's orientation, and at
other times, relative to the scene.
sure, whatever you do, that you update your PC's video drivers to the
latest available from your supplier, and ensure you have the most up to
date version of Jack Keane 2 as well (easy if you use Steam,
because they'll do it for you) because the initial release, via Steam in
particular, had a show stopper of a bug which meant that the frame rate
(speed of animation) was atrocious, rendering play impossible. Once
that's dealt with, however, the rest of the game is reasonably slick.
movement clunky at times, as I've already described, and I fell through
the world once towards the end of the game; always a disconcerting
feeling, so I cannot say that Jack Keane 2 is a technical tour de
force. But for the most part it was fine - there were no dead ends,
intolerably small hotspots, colour or sound distinguishing puzzles, nor
the Steam version of Jack Keane 2, but there are no achievements
for the game, which is something a little different from most games on
Steam. I feel that achievements don't make a great deal of sense in the
basically linear format of most point-n-click adventure games, but some
do seem to make it work. However, in the case of this game, I think Deck
13 (the developers) were thinking of the bigger picture than just the
I did enjoy playing Jack Keane 2 for what I think are the right
reasons - the story was entertaining, and playing Amanda and Eve off
against one another, whilst it could have been further developed with
deeper consequences, did provide some entertainment. The characters do
make some discoveries about themselves over the course of the narrative,
but the writing won't be being nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature
any time soon. The depth of character exploration is closer to that of
the Back to the Future movies, but hey, who cares, this is
swash-buckling, cage-fighting, pirate-sequel gaming, not Nabokov!
What do you need to play it?
OS: Windows XP (32 bit)/Vista/7/8 (32/64 bit)
Processor: Intel Pentium IV @ 2.8 GHz or comparable
processor with SSE3
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: NVidia GeForce 8600 GT / ATI Radeon HD X1800 or
better (DirectX 9.0c), with minimum 256MB RAM and Shader 3.0 support.
Hard Drive: 3584 MB HD space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
Additional: mouse, keyboard
Recommended Requirements over the minimum
Processor: Intel® Core™2 Duo @ 2.6 GHz or comparable
processor with SSE3
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Graphics: NVidia GeForce 9800 GT / ATI Radeon HD 4850 or
a home-built 64-bit Windows 7
Home Premium (SP1) PC running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual
with 6 GB RAM, and a Sapphire Radeon HD4670 512MB video card, with
on-mother-board, built-in sound card)