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Clive Barker's Jericho
Score: 72%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: MercurySteam
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Squad-Based

Graphics & Sound:
Ahh, Clive Barker's Jericho. I wanted so badly to love this game, I really did. Alas, it just did not happen. When I first popped it in and the cut scenes explaining the story began, I was intrigued. The game begins amidst the turmoil of a beautiful but unexplainable sandstorm in the Middle East in the city of Al Khali, somewhere near the cradle of civilization. As the Jericho team ventures through the storm into a ravaged series of caves and buildings that used to be a research facility, the initial awe and excitement I experienced began to fade. I soon noticed that everything looked to "clean." You are supposed to be in a gritty, dusty, sandy locale, but there is no dust kicked up by your actions. No swirls of sand as you progress. Nothing to make you truly feel you are there. Sure, there are entrails strewn about on the ground in copious amounts, but things are so dark that you can barely see them. You have a flashlight you can use, but again, everything is way too dark, even with that. Add that to the fact that all of your team members are wearing black, along with their perpetual frowns, and it creates a dismal experience. In some areas, I actually had trouble figuring out where the hell to go because I couldn't see. I wandered around one location for several minutes, ordering my group ahead in the hopes they would give me a clue, to no avail.

Aside from the lack of environmental particle effects like dust and such, everything had a high sheen on it. Blood was too shiny and it was everywhere. Basically, instead of looking scary, as was the point, it looked plasticine and fakey-fake. Another downside came when you shot an enemy, which granted, do look pretty scary. There was no visual queue that you had hit them. They just kept coming, instead of a limb flying back or whatever. No blood, no feedback, nothing. I know these minions of evil are powerful, but come on. Throw me a frickin' bone, will ya?

In the sound department, Clive Barker's Jericho actually does pretty well. The voiceovers are good and feel "right" and your team has some pretty amusing things that they say. However, they say them far too often. I got tired of hearing the same catch phrases over and over. As for the sound effects, they were creepy and did manage to scare my dog. Ambient background music is appropriately eerie, kicks in at the correct time and serves to keep you on edge.

The storyline of Clive Barker's Jericho goes like this. Before God created man, he practiced with the Firstborn. Dissatisfied with his creation, he cast it away and started fresh with Adam and Eve, whom he gave free will, the ability to love, etc. This project came out far better. However, the Firstborn, angry at having been rejected, seeks escape and has tried 6 times in the past throughout the ages, and failed, thanks to a team of 7 shaman who were able to defeat it. Each time Firstborn was defeated, it took with it a piece of the earth from that time period back to its dark recesses. Present day: The Firstborn is at it again and Team Jericho has been called in to stop it and its minions. Any guess how many team members you have?

The team is composed of seven members, each one possessing both a supernatural power or gift and a pair of bad-ass weapons. Everyone is needed to defeat the hellish creatures you'll encounter. You begin the game as Cpt. Devin Ross, head of the Jericho team. He is one of two psychic healers on board, with his gift relying on proximity to the fallen teammate. Father Paul Rawlings is the other healer on the team. He is able to heal from afar and during a firefight, his powers come in handy. If both Rawlings and Ross die, it's basically game over since they are the ones who keep things going once it turns bad.

Sgt. Frank Delgado has one functioning arm, but what an arm it is. There's a flame spirit encased around his arm and it packs a powerful punch when it comes to enemies... or himself if he misses an enemy and it returns. Cpl. Simone Cole is a hacker who can slow time, Cpt. Xavier Jones is a seer, Lt. Abigail Black uses telekinetics and Sgt. Billie Church is a cutter who has fashioned her quirk into the role of Blood Mage. When she cuts herself, enemies bleed. In the beginning of the game, you progress as Ross, backed up by your team, who do a pretty effective job together. Then Ross dies - oh crap - but it's not so bad because then his spirit is able to inhabit other team members. This is how you get to play with each member's toys, by jumping into their bodies and wreaking havoc. Sounds fun? Well, it actually sounds better than it works. You have the Alpha Team and the Omega Team. You can jump to different team members on a given team and as they die, you are automatically thrown into the next member of the team. Even though Ross died, you still retain the ability to heal while in close proximity, since you are possessing others, but sometimes everyone dies in really inopportune places and you die while trying to patch them up.

Sometimes you have to be a certain person to get past a particular area, but things happen quickly and sometimes your team makes stupid decisions and everyone dies. You have the ability to tell either or both Team Alpha and Team Omega to "Hold" or "Follow" but it didn't seem that they always listened properly. Then again, while in the middle of a serious firefight, it's not always easy to think to issue commands.

At its heart, Clive Barker's Jericho is a squad-based FPS with a good storyline, but just not enough fun gameplay to take it all the way. Dark areas make progression difficult and cumbersome, and it gets tiring doing nothing but running around healing your teammates, while jumping from body to body until everyone is dead. I will say this - I actually enjoyed the game more when Ross was alive and I didn't have the option to jump into teammates' bodies. They were pretty decent backup and actually got out there and killed stuff, whereas in many squad-based games, it's all up to you. That part was cool, but then they killed him off and took it away. Not cool.

Well, there are three levels of difficulty - Easy (Don't let them take me. Please!), Medium (Let's go, Jericho...) and Hard (I'm going to eat your soul!). Even on Medium, Clive Barker's Jericho offers a very healthy dose of toughness. These enemies are quite unstoppable, or at least stubborn. You will unload dozens of bullets on one enemy before he falls. When they do fall, flies come and eat their corpse, which is a nice way to handle the lack of dead bodies everywhere, by the way.

Again, what makes Jericho difficult is the dark atmosphere. Sure, the enemies are tough and there are a lot of them which materialize out of nowhere - such is the case with demons. But not being able to see where to go and getting turned around in areas is a far worse enemy to the game player than a simple minion of the Firstborn.

Game Mechanics:
Clive Barker's Jericho is a first person shooter and as such, you'll move about with the Left Analog Stick and Look/Zoom with the Right Analog Stick. (L1) and (L2) serve as your secondary power and fire buttons, respectively, and (R1) and (R2) as your primaries. (Triangle) is your friend as it toggles on and off your flashlight, and you will need your flashlight. You can melee attack with the (O) button which is sometimes more effective than your weapon when an enemy rushes you.

To order your teams, press either (Up) to Follow or (Down) to Hold on the D-pad, selecting either Alpha or Omega teams. Both are displayed in the top left corner of you HUD, so you can see which team is following and which is holding. One thing that boggled me was a little tiny skull that appeared on my screen at one point. Shame on me for not catching it in the manual, but it signified a fallen teammate. No wonder they were shouting at me to help him/her! When there are a handful of these little skulls peppering your screen, you know you are in trouble. Here come the flies!

Probably the most frustrating aspects of Jericho were the context-sensitive survival events. Here, you are forced to rapidly enter face buttons to survive, either because you have fallen down a pit or an undead creature has you in its grip. Thank you Resident Evil 4 for making it so that every game feels the need to have these Action sequences. Well, games like RE4 and God of War did it well, but Jericho doesn't. You are expected to hit the button immediately, followed by several more buttons. I mean like way faster that I've seen in most games. Then, when you fail, it starts right back over using the exact same key presses. So basically, you can just memorize your way through these sequences, although your pride will suffer and your anger towards the game will mount.

Once again, I had high hopes for Clive Barker's Jericho, I really did. In the end, the experience was disappointing. Do I care what happens to Jericho? Kind of. Do I desire to see the different ages and places that the Firstborn has grafted into his realm? Not badly enough to keep on playing. Jericho was great in concept, but something broke down along the way. There are unique weapons and powers to be had, but alas, the gameplay just isn't all that much fun and the game suffers from too many detractors. If you are still intrigued, give it a rent. Just turn the brightness to max on your TV before popping it in.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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