This game sat on my
shelf for a long time, untouched, except for the occasional dusting. I'm
not even sure how or why I acquired it. I am not an action player (I
never did get through the final shoot-out in Dust), and the reviews called
this game action/adventure. Also, the reviews were dismal, although I did
read a very positive one. Anyway, I finally decided to give the game a
"shot" since it was produced by Southpeak, developers of Dark Side of The
Moon, and Temujin, games I enjoyed. I'm also a sucker for the Old West.
Introduction and Storyline
The game is obviously
based upon the movie Wild, Wild, West. President Grant has called James
West and Artemus Gordon (your characters) into a meeting to ask for help
in foiling an assassination plot against him, one that is expected to take
place at the infamous Ford Theater, five years to the day after Lincoln's
assassination. The meeting takes place on the Wanderer, the train which
is your base. It is there that you pick up the equipment you need, listen
to voice recorded messages, and read memos from each other. West's
assignment is to track the old trail of John Wilkes Booth, for he suspects
Booth had an accomplice. Gordon's role is to look for clues that might
link a suspicious murder with the proposed assassination plot.
Interface and Controls
The game is 3rd person
perspective, point-and-click. You control two characters, West and
Gordon, although one at a time. Double clicking will allow the character
to run. You are required to take each character through four episodes of
the investigation, and then take them both through the finale. When you
are West, you tote your guns and are involved in the action part of the
game. When you are Gordon, you travel unarmed and by wits alone.
The inventory system
is simple. The cursor highlights a description tag. The left hand on the
inventory bar at the bottom of the screen is where you place the item you
wish to use, and simply click on where you want to use it. If it is
correct, the action symbol turns green. Items can be combined or acted
upon by placing one in the hand and clicking the other. The right hand on
the bar at the bottom of the screen is where you place your gun. There is
a "reload" button next to it that you must hit to reload your weapon.
You can access the
menu at any time and adjust the difficulty settings on either the action
or adventure aspect of the game as well as volume controls, etc.
Theoretically, adjusting the action to “easy” enables you to more easily
dispose of your opponents, however I couldn't tell the difference….
Adjusting the adventure to “easy” gives more clues in the journal.
West travels with a
health meter; 5 is optimal and 0 is dead. However when West shoots down a
gunman, searching the dead man often retrieves bandages, which are health
points when used. Dying in this game becomes routine, so it is mandatory
to save often. Saves are unlimited. The game automatically saves after
The entire interface,
in fact, is very intuitive and quite easy to figure out and implement.
There is no way to
completely avoid the action in this game. When you play as West, there
are a few opportunities to trick or circumvent your opponent. But for the
most part, as West you must keep your guns loaded, be quick and aim well.
When playing as Gordon, it is all trickery and avoidance, for you are
unarmed even though your opponents are not. And it was as Gordon that I
had the most difficulty. I won't describe the major hair-pulling
maneuvers required to escape harm’s way and complete the episodes. But
suffice it to say I breathed a sigh of relief when I was again West, armed
and able to shoot…. Imagine that!
The puzzles are
varied. Many are unique and, as mentioned, some require well-thought-out
maneuvers. The puzzles are not limited to Gordon, for in addition to the
gunfights West has them as well, except they are more straightforward and
The game involves a
certain amount of pixel hunting. The cursor changes to an eyeball when
something can be investigated and it changes to a grasping hand when
something can be picked up or used. However, the hot spot areas are very
small and can easily be missed.
The Baltimore wharf, Ford's Theater and Old West towns are the settings
that are explored and investigated. As a character, you are required to
complete one episode of investigation before beginning another.
Graphics, Acting and Sound
graphics are 2D rendered and very, very detailed, which creates an
immersive experience. Nothing was overlooked in making the environment as
realistic as possible. The characters, however seem stilted in their
movements and although detailed, did not appear fluid.
The voice acting is
excellent and the character development is quite good. The characters
come off as very believable.
Perhaps best of all
are the sound effects. From loading a gun to birds chirping, they were
just about perfect.
Installation, Stability, Bugs
The game installs on
one CD and plays on the other, so there is no disk swapping. Installation
was simple and straightforward. The game never crashed and I did not
encounter any bugs. My system was Dell, Pent III 933mhz, Windows 98SE.
When I first began
this game, I had no idea of writing a review -- in fact I had serious
doubts about even being able to finish it. However, the more I played and
got the hang of it, the easier it became. I also became hooked on the
story and developed a fondness for West and Gordon…. So I am writing a
review for these reasons. I know that this game is not for every
adventure gamer, but those who don't mind a bit of reasonable action might
be surprised to find this game as much fun as I did. The traditional
puzzles are actually quite easy. The shooting was a bit frustrating at
times, for it is not as precise as it might be, but it is still workable.
For me, the real challenge was the "adventure mode" where I needed to
maneuver my unarmed Gordon past some mighty sticky situations. A few, I
might add, that were quite original.
Bottom line, I'm glad
I played it. It was something different, and a nice break from the quiet,
exploratory games I've been playing.
Final Grade: B-