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Clive Barker's Jericho

 

Clive Barker's Jericho

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
 
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Author:

Developer - Codemasters
Publisher - Codemasters

Features

Number of Players: 1
Custom Soundtrack
250 KB to Save Game
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
In-Game Dolby Digital
Content Download

Famous for the horror movie classic Hellraiser, and one of my all time favorites Nightbreed (yes I admit it), Clive Barker introduces his videogame interpretation of a horror story. Aptly titled Clive Barker's Jericho, this game is a supernatural horror-themed First Person Shooter for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. My first introduction to it came about a month ago when I downloaded and played the demo on the Xbox 360. As I played through the demo I was left with mixed feelings. However, I was left hoping that Clive Barker's Jericho would be one of the few really good horror shooters to arrive on the Xbox 360 since there really hasn't been a good one lately. Well I have had my chance to play my review copy and my overall feelings is that it doesn't deliver the full punch that I hoped, but there is a solid foundation that forms a path for a sequel, or perhaps a big screen movie adaptation.

Graphics

As far as the visuals are concerned, Clive Barker's Jericho is bit of a mixed bag. Firstly, the game is very dark, in fact almost too dark. And make no question you will be relying on your in-game flashlight far too often. Secondly, the lack of variety with enemy AI character models is very limited as you will see the same enemies over and over again. Granted by themselves they look pretty good, but after awhile the repetitiveness can make them very forgettable. It would have been nice to see more variety in this area.

On a more positive note, the character model designs your character and your squadmate's characters are actually very good. Each one is unique and it doesn't take long before they all become readily recognizable. The detail in the characters is very impressive to say the least. Another strong point for the game's visuals is the level designs which I found pretty cool. The environments are rich in detail and are very slick looking. The liquid textures feature, for the lack of better words, lots of guck and gloop and it all adds to that horror-like atmosphere. And although these visuals are not quite Gears of War quality it certainly rivals it. I just wish the game wasn't so dark so I could actually take in some more of the scenery. I understand what the developers were trying to do creating a spooky and dark atmosphere, but I am of the belief that same atmosphere could have been accomplished with better lighting allowing for more of the game's levels to actually be seen.

Sound

As with the visuals, the games audio is also a mixed bag. For starters, the voiceover work is questionable and there were a few moments where the dialogue seemed out of sync with the characters mouth movements. This was not a big deal per se, but it was an annoyance nonetheless and you will probably notice it. As well, the repetitiveness of the dialogue becomes tiresome and equally annoying. On the other hand, much of the dialogue is clear and suitable for the game. The lines are somewhat cheesy but for the most part they fit the into the game's storyline and atmosphere.

The music in Jericho is very effective as well. You don't hear any big name recording artists but the soundtrack is decent. Often the music adds to the atmosphere and as I played I found it could make my heart race in many of the intense scenes found throughout the game. As for the rest of the sound effects, they are also very good. Everything from the sounds of weapons firing to the enemies gurgling when dying, they are all bang-on.

Gameplay

The idea behind Jericho's storyline is that before Adam and Eve were created God attempted to create a different being which was called his 'Firstborn'. Unfortunately, the 'Firstborn' didn't turn out as expected and it was banished into the Abyss. You play as Captain Devin Ross, the squad leader of a team of U.S. Department of Paranormal Defences Elite's, codenamed Jericho. You along with six other squadmates have special training in dealing with supernatural beings. As you would guess, you are the last line of defence against the 'Firstborn', who is making a final attempt at freedom, and of course world domination. Granted there is a little bit more to it than that and as the game progresses you are exposed to tidbits of information on how the 'Firstborn' came to be. In any event, you get the basic idea here. Clive Barker's Jericho is all about leading your seven-man squad through various environments that have been warped by the 'Firstborn', and while doing so you will find yourself fighting off various creatures throughout.

Although the overall atmosphere of the game is gloomy and dark it definitely isn't as chilling as I thought this game could have been. If you want a comparison it is certainly in line with something like Fear for the Xbox 360. The game does feature of good share of blood and guts and it is definitely not a game for younger audiences, hence the Mature rating. Unfortunately, you should not expect a 'Condemned' or 'Half-Life 2' fear factor in Clive Barker's Jericho.

The most unique and notable aspect of the game is the ability to change from one squadmate to another. It will very much remind you of EA's
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat where you will be fighting as one character, and if you get into some trouble you can swap and fight as another one of your squadmates. The same principle applies in Clive Barker's Jericho. Each of your squadmates has their own set of magic and weapons that they specialize in. For instance, Captain Devin Ross has the ability to heal teammates, Cpl. Simone Cole is a super genius and reality hacker, Lt. Abigail Black is a lesbian sniper (editors note - we have nothing against choice of sexuality, just pointing out the character trait in the storyline) and Father Rawlings is a dual welding chaplain. Bottom-line, each of the characters has their own set of unique skills and often you will find yourself needing to swap to a different character in order to progress through any given mission. Overall, the character swapping works but by now means is it innovative and original. While engrossed in the character you are playing as, your computer AI squadmates do an admiral job at fighting off the enemies with you during the game. I was relieved I wasn't fighting with a band of idiots as they made my adventure somewhat bearable.

The missions themselves are pretty straightforward and the game itself will only take you about 8-10 hours to finish, provided you can get past some of the annoyances with the gameplay. Let me expand on this statement. First off, the fighting can get extremely claustrophobic at times as the majority of the fighting takes place up close and in the dark. The levels themselves are linear and narrow and I often felt that I had nowhere to run or position myself as hordes of enemies would converge upon me in the tightest of quarters. I never really felt like I could take advantage of my squadmates abilities as the action was simply too up-close and chaotic. Why have snipers on your team when hardly any of the environments are large enough to take advantage of that ability? Secondly, it takes a large number of bullets/blows to kill the enemies you face. Even the basic of creatures take what seems to be a never ending amount of ammunition to put them down. Thirdly, the suicide bomber enemies are also incredibly frustrating. They do a fair amount of damage to your squadmates and you will be spending far too much time resurrecting members of your team because of these problematic enemies. Finally, the game features context-sensitive button pressing sequences where you are forced to press a sequence of buttons as they are briefly displayed on the screen. It very much reminds me of Far Cry and Call of Duty 3. The problem here is that in this game you only have a split second to get the sequence right. It almost made me want to shut the game off as you find yourself trying to get the sequence right over and over again. All these annoyances that I speak of really take away from the gameplay and really have no place in horror shooter such as this.

Aside from the above mentioned frustrations with the enemy AI, at least they are not blindly attacking you 24-7 as they have a sembalance of good programming. They take cover behind walls and move out to shoot which was a surprise as they utilize some strategy and aren't all that brainless. Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of blowing away creature after creature does get boring after awhile. This may be due to the lack of enemy design as it seems you are only fighting about five different types of creatures throughout the whole game. Nevertheless, Clive Barker's Jericho is really about killing off hordes of enemies on route each mission's final boss battle. These boss battles themselves are not much of a challenge aside from the button sequence nonsense. Your teammates shout out during the game the best way to take out the each boss, so you won't be hammering away for hours on end figuring out how to take down them down.

As for the multiplayer mode, well there is none. So once you are done the game, Clive Barker's Jericho really doesn't have much in the way of replay value other than completing the game on a higher difficulty or going after some of those ever-so-popular Xbox 360 achievement points. There are 42 different achievements in total and some are without question difficult to attain.


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