Genre:     Adventure

Developer:  Take 2 Interactive

Publisher:   GameTek

Released:   1996

PC Requirements:   486DX/50, 6.5MB RAM, 2xCD ROM, 10 MB hard drive space, DOS 5.0, Win 95, mouse.




by Jenny100


I don't see any review of Ripper in here so I thought I'd make an attempt at writing one. Feel free to add to it.
Ripper is an FMV game featuring live actors. The acting is very good - much better than what I usually see in games. And it really brought the game to life. I've seen reviews that criticize Christopher Walken's acting in Ripper, but I don't agree with them. His character was supposed to be unlikable and annoying.

In Ripper you play the part of Jake Quinlan, a reporter who has been assigned to cover a series of grisly murders which don't initially appear to have anything in common other than the bizarre mode of death.
He's been assigned a partner, Catherine, who is attacked by the Ripper just before she is about to contact Jake with new information. Mysteriously she survives, though in a comatose state. Now Jake must try to find out what Catherine had learned, discover the identity of the Ripper, and explain how the murders had been committed. He is hampered by an ill-tempered cop who tries to suppress evidence so he can find the Ripper himself and collect the bounty money. Or perhaps he has another reason too.

Ripper takes place in the year 2040 but the buildings don't appear futuristic or sci-fi. The hospital looked more like an old art deco building to me than a hospital. The police station was an odd structure that resembled nothing so much as a bunch of large tin cans with walkways in between. Peoples' homes could look either homey and old-fashioned, like the Woffords', or resemble studios, like Catherine's. The bar and the smoke shop looked like their 20th century equivalents.

You'll find most of the stand-alone puzzles in Ripper are located in Cyberspace. They are used as a sort of security system - not a smart way to set up a security system in real life, but this is a game and people in games have weird ways of doing things. Anyway, various characters and organizations in the game store data in Cyberspace in areas called "wells." When you enter Cyberspace (by clicking on a computer screen) your eyes are assaulted by a short, very bright video welcoming you to virtual reality. Considering that the game is otherwise very dark, this intro is apt to make you see spots. In real life, it would be extremely annoying to have to put up with this sort of thing every time you wanted to use your computer. But of course it's just a game. And you're supposed to excuse flashy annoyances in a game.

Once you enter cyberspace, you see various icons floating around. Many have a threatening look. The icons are arranged in a circle which extends to left and right of your computer screen. You click to right or left, and if you can access a particular "well," the screen will stop at that "well" and allow you to either click on it or continue around the circle of icons. A voice I can't quite recognize identifies whose (or what organization's) well it is. The first time you access a well, you have a password to put in, which you can figure out by either using a word that might be associated with that person or by having someone tell you what it is.

After you correctly enter the password, you often have a secondary level of security to get past. This takes the form of either a puzzle to solve or an arcade game. You can't be killed in the arcade game. If you're beaten, you just get kicked out of the "well" and can reenter and try again. Even though I had the action settings set to "easy" I was unable to get past the first arcade sequence because I couldn't figure out how to use the shield. Fortunately you are able to skip the arcade sequences by typing the word arcade. I did get past the second one, but the last 2 seemed to have more of those shields that I couldn't figure out how to use. So I just typed arcade to skip them without even bothering to try them.

Ripper is point-and-click and can be played entirely with the mouse. If you move the mouse to the top of the screen, icons appear for various functions - save, load, volume, puzzle difficulty, etc. Movement is not slideshow format, but FMV. As you move along, you'll see a movie transition between nodes. This kind of thing takes up space and there are 6 CD's to Ripper.

Ripper is divided into 3 Acts. During Act 1 you'll be using CD1 and CD2. During Act 2 you'll be using CD3 and CD4. During Act 3 you'll be using CD5 and CD6. I thought CD swapping was the worst during Act 3. If only CD's were twice as long this wouldn't have been such a problem. But certain locations are on one CD and certain locations are on the other. The game doesn't seem to be designed to minimize swapping the way Black Dahlia and Byzantine were. Perhaps I didn't use the most efficient route through the game, but many conversations are triggered by previous ones so there is some back-and-forthing.

There are a few keyboard hotkeys, but the only one that did something the mouse icons didn't was the one that repeated the last video you'd seen. The repeat video hotkey is Ctrl-R (not to be confused with Alt-R, which loads a game).

If you find a puzzle is too difficult, you can back out of it and choose to play it in easy mode. And vice versa if you think the puzzles are too easy. There are cheats for almost all the puzzles if you want to skip them entirely. They are easy to implement. You just type them in.

The first thing to do after installing Ripper is to download and install the patch. I believe I got mine from Gamespot, though it's been so long since I downloaded it that I'm not sure anymore. The patch was called This patch unzips into 3 files - a readme.txt, a patch.txt, and a new ripper.exe that you use to replace the one that installed with the game.

Ripper had 20 save game slots. You have a little picture of your save location and can type in a description. I'm not sure which save goes with which slot though. The slots are organized in a 4x5 grid. I assume the upper leftmost slot is slot 1, but would slot 2 be the one to the right of it or the one beneath it? Opening the save with Notepad does not reveal the name you typed in, so I assumed the save description you type in is kept in another file. I'm not sure if this means you can't send someone saved games or not.

The patch not only fixes things, it gives you the option to replay the game with the culprit of your choice. There are 4 possible culprits. The first time you play, you will probably prefer to figure out whodunit for yourself. I don't know at what point the game decides which culprit to give you, but I think it's at the very start of a new game. Having 4 possible perpetrators is supposed to increase the replayability of the game. You'll get a different Act 3 with the different scenarios. I don't think the first 2 Acts are affected, though there may be some minor conversation differences. It didn't really increase the replayability for me though. I enjoyed the game and will play it again someday. But I'm in no mood to do it very soon. I think I've had enough of it for now, different culprits notwithstanding. Even if the dialog changes in between versions, I want to wait until I've forgotten the puzzles.

I think I got the scenario with the least interesting culprit. The person was neither the most interesting with regards to method nor the most satisfying to kill.

As gore goes, it wasn't too bad. There's one room where there's blood spattered all over the walls - nothing compared to 11th Hour though. There's a quick movie of a body, but it looked to me more like a painted up mannequin. And there's one scene where some guy has his guts fall out. It didn't look very realistic to me though. I think real guts would have looked different. It might creep out some people though.

Most characters in the game use the F word at some point. They use it like most people would usually use the D word. I'm not sure why they used the F word instead. Maybe they figure that in a godless world the D word loses its impact or something.

Ripper has both a Windows and a DOS install. I don't know how well the Windows install works. I played the game in DOS mode on a PII 400 with an SBLive sound card. I used a shortcut to boot to DOS mode with the following custom configuration:


Device=C:\WINDOWS\Emm386.exe NOEMS
DeviceHigh=C:\CDROM.SYS /D:mscd001


SET winbootdir=C:\WINDOWS
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6

I had 2 freezes. One was to a black screen. In the other one, the sound seemed to get stuck. Ctrl-Alt-Delete did not work and I had to use the reset button. Fortunately for me, in DOS mode you don't have the problem of Windows not shutting down "properly" and don't have to wait for scandisk to do its thing.

I found that when changing CD's in Ripper, it's best to click "Continue" before the CD spins up. Otherwise it may have trouble reading and ask for the CD again. For most games, it's the other way around.

I had to turn up my monitor brightness more than I usually do for games even though I was playing Ripper at night. Even then, I still thought it was a bit dark. So if other games have been too dark for your monitor, Ripper will probably be too dark as well.

I don't know how well Ripper plays on GHz speed computers. As I said, I played it on a PII 400 and it seemed fine overall.

The game had a very intriguing plot. Twice I got so interested in playing it that I lost track of time and discovered it was almost 5AM. I usually try to get to bed before that. Really I do.

I'd recommend Ripper to anyone who enjoys detective stories and mysteries... provided you don't object to the F word and the bit of gore that I mentioned.

Looking back over this review, I think it is very boring. But maybe someone will find information they're looking for in it.

I wish I had more information on how well Ripper runs with faster machines and whether the Windows install will work with Win ME, but others will have to supply that.


Overall Grade:     A-

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