Jerusalem: The Three Roads To
The Holy Land
(or why I recommend playing Putt Putt: Travels Through Time instead.)
Letís look at the box on this one.
Adrian Blake is a renowned 20th century Scottish cartographer. On his
return from an expedition, he discovers his fiancťe, Sophia has
disappeared. He must journey through time to find her. Having explored
Pompeii in the 1st century and having found Sophia just before the
explosion of Vesuvius, Adrian is once more swept up in a vortex. He
regains consciousness at the gates to Jerusalem.
So we begin at what could be called Pompeii II. I will admit to you right
here and now - I am not a big fan of Pompeii. The first of this historical
based series was released by Cryo in 2000. It had what promised to be a
great story line. Our hero is a man in love armed with a formidable
knowledge of antiquities both tangible and cultural. He has in fact
angered the gods/ goddesses and as gods will do, they spirited away his
true love. To regain his love - our hero must complete three quests and
prove himself worthy of the lifting of the curse. Sounds pretty good so
far. Letís examine our heroís dilemma. An old familiar plot device to be
sure - but if told well - one that really doesnít get tiresome. That was
the problem with Pompeii - the telling well part. It didnít. The graphics
were nice enough, the voice talent was a bit uneven but acceptable. The
puzzles middling. But the dialogue, dull would be a step up on this one.
But I trudged through to the end and shelved Pompeii - never to be played
So why - why you cry out - why would you get the sequel!!! Good question.
I could say - I was drugged against my will or that I had too much money
and had to get rid of some for tax purposes. The truth is I got it because
Arxel was involved on the graphics/story end this time, early reports
indicated a controversial spin on the plot and I have seen the Ďsequel
better the originalí game more than just once. So off I went to order
Jerusalem. It came - I loaded it - I began the game and I was not thrilled
or even mildly content. Before I get into the details of my gamerís angst
I am sure that you are wondering about my reference in the title to Putt
Putt. Well itís like this ....
I was playing Putt Putt Travels Through Time the other night to review as
a kids and parents game and was struck by the similarities between it and
Jerusalem - which I had just finished.. Putt Putt gets sucked up by a time
vortex and has to recover lost objects dear to his heart in order to set
things straight and shut down the vortex. Adrian our hero gets sucked up
into a time vortex and has to rescue his true love (an important object in
his life) in order to set things straight and save the universe. So letís
see - Putt Putt or Jerusalem.
Letís start with the visuals or eye candy factor. The graphics (actually
good in Pompeii) were improved and nicely rendered in the sequel. Strong
points for Jerusalem would have to be the graphics. It has the same clean
well rendered graphics that were present in Pompeii. In fact, I think that
the character art and backgrounds are much better in the sequel. Putt Putt
is a 3D cartoon based kids game - so with some sadness ( I really liked
that little guy) I have to award the look of the game and point 1 in our
review to Jerusalem.
So they got it right on the graphics - how about the story? Like I
mentioned earlier the main focus of Jerusalem was an introduction of sorts
to the basic tenets of the "three great religions" that are similar in
their universal acceptance and devotion to just one god. While interesting
enough - I actually was familiar with a lot of what was discussed and just
wanted to get to the game related plot. This was actually pretty good -
but only briefly touched on and not really till close to the end of the
game. I would have to give overall effort at plot idea to Jerusalem. Once
you have met Putt Putt and his pals - thereís not much more to be
understood. So we have point 2 for basic plot premise going to Jerusalem.
So how well was this plot developed and advanced throughout the game? This
is where it really fell apart for me as a gamer. All of the features that
Pompeii had actually gotten right were now horribly slighted. It seems
that Jerusalem had flipped Pompeii on itís head and managed to maintain
the Pompeii trend of a poorly done game. The plot that was actually
detailed enough to get interested in before was now almost non-existent.
Instead of the focus on Sophia and Adrian - we are helped to a large dose
of religious rhetoric. If I can get it straight - we are urged to merge
the three great religions into a unified mass. Well that may be a grand
idea - who knows - I came here to play a game and find Sophia and advance
my heroís battle against the great curse. No mention of the curse this go
around, and Sophia? Well thereís little more than a bone thrown to that
dream. Point 3 has to go to Putt Putt. It has clearly defined plot goals,
advances them in a fun way and it sticks to them
Now for our game characters and NPCís. In Pompeii - Sophia and Adrian
werenít deeply fleshed out - but in this newest incarnation I felt even
more alienated from the characters. Adrian came across as intelligent ,
eclectic and essentially a perfect ambassador or ethics expert. I am not
sure exactly why - but I just didnít find him as interesting as in
Pompeii. The characters were more fully developed and just easier to get
into with Pompeii which was one of that games strengths. In Jerusalem the
characters were preachy, wooden or just barely there. A large
disappointment. For characters I am greatly tempted to give the advantage
to Putt Putt. These guys are cute and have little baby voices. I feel like
I am playing with the cast from Leave it to Beaver or Our Gang. Maybe even
Sailor Moon. You want to get them some milk and cookies. The characters in
Jerusalem were whiny and boring in places. The Caliph seemed pretty dense
for a guy who has managed to maintain power in a time rife with intrigue
and plots. Sophiaís alter ego was annoying. Adrian was just too bland and
the bad guy - well he was wonderful but you hardly got to interact with
him before pffffffft he was vanquished and gone. The goddess from Pompeii?
Never saw her. So hm gee this is tough. I have to give character
development points and review point 4 to Putt Putt. I just had higher
expectations from Jerusalem.
I will say that the game interface in Jerusalem was decent and it didnít
appear to have any glitches. Navigation around this game is accomplished
by consulting a map feature - where you click on whatever location you
want to go next. Some of the location hot spots were hard to locate from
time to time - but this wasnít a big game breaking problem. Dialogues are
automatic many times. You click on the person that has a "talk" icon and
away you go. I just didnít get a sense of any real depth to the
characters. You had to talk to folks in Putt Putt and the navigation was
standard point and click. I would have to give a slight edge to Jerusalem
and give them the point 5 for game interface, but just barely.
The edutainment quotient of Jerusalem was fairly high. There was the
encyclopedia and other in game resources that could be read and enjoyed
apart from the game. If you are a real history buff who has up until now
been short on your religious history - this will appeal. I like
historically based games - but never really look at any in-game side
resources. I play the games to - well play a game. So this point is mixed.
For those who live and die by in game encyclopedias - this point goes to
Jerusalem. For others - definitely a Putt Putt advantage. Weíll call Point
6 a tie.
Finally a consideration of just overall fun. How do I say this - I think
all things considered Putt Putt does Time Travel was more bearable. In
Jerusalem, it wouldnít have been so bad if you could have bypassed mind
numbingly lecturing conversations and enjoyed the game - but in fact the
game would not always advance without them. I have to admit - I am like
the little kid in the Life cereal ads - I pretty much find something to
like about almost any game, but the original Pompeii made me want to shoot
the game box. I finished it finally by playing through it with a WT in
hand - just to get it over with. The same applies to Jerusalem for the
most part. Final point 7 goes to Putt Putt vs. Pompeii/ Jerusalem - you
donít need a WT to get through it fast.
I will now open this envelope with the standings calculated by some
formerly prestigious accounting firm that is out sourcing to cover legal
fees. It appears that we have a tie. So if you love history, if you really
had your heart set on delving ever so briefly into the conflicts between
the Muslim, Christian and Judaic religions, if you really really loved
Pompeii and have to see what happens next (well kind of) Then buy and play
As for me, I say skip Pompeii, detour around Jerusalem and go play Putt
Putt Does Time Travel -itís motives are pure and the laughs are genuine. I
have to go now - all I am missing is the cell phone and I can take Putt
Putt home and shut down the time vortex.
I donít normally give out grades as one personís bliss is another personís
nightmare. I will just say that on my personal game meter if Syberia is
the shiznet (Thanks GeekGirl) and Chateau Door is gamerís hell then
Jerusalem would be close to the bottom 1/3 of that list.
I played Jerusalem on an PIII 500, SB128, Nvidea TNT card with 128 RAM.
Mfr.ís Game specs are listed as:
PIII450 (P200 w/MMX min.)
64 RAM (32 min.)
24 bits color (16 bits min.)
Review Grade: C
copyright © 2004