Clive Barker’s Jericho
Clive Barker’s Jericho is the latest game with the cooperation of the English horror master. Just like Undying, this is a first-person shooter where the screen gets covered with gallons of blood and countless ripped off limbs. People with a weak stomache: please refrain from further reading.
The story is quite good. It’s actually the most important reason to keep playing. Before God created mankind (starting with Adam & Eve of course – and no we’re not talking about the porn studio, ed) he had already done a tryout: the Firstborn.
But because the almighty wasn’t too pleased with his creation, he tucked them away in a parallel dimension called The Box. Throughout history The Firstborn has tried to escape from its prison but was stopped each time by a team of seven warriors-sorcerors. And now it’s that time again.
Your team, Jericho, is sent to the villange of Al-Khali, in the midst of the Rub Al-Khali desert, to stop the most recent jailbreak of the Firstborn. To get the critter back in its box, the seven will have to travel through time multiple times.
Since Ross, the team leader, quite quickly eats dirt, there are only six characters you can switch between. But don’t worry, that’s still more than enough. Actually you’re controlling Ross’ spirit that can take over the bodies of the six others.
Each member has two weapons (or one with two firing modes) and two special abilities. Jones has telekinesis and can take over the ghosts of enemies, Rawlings is a healer-priest, Cole can slow down time for everyone except herself and Church can immobilize hostiles by wounding herself after which she takes on the enemies with her sword and machine gun.
The last two characters deserve a seperate mentioning as they’re quite overpowered and will therefore be used the most. Delgado has an immensely powerful chaingun, can cloak himself in a protective shield of fire and can send an enormously powerful dragon towards the united oppostion. The lesbian sniper Black has next to a deadly precise telescope rifle also a grenade launcher and can also shoot off a “god bullet” that can be guided to its target by means of the analog stick.
With so many different possibilities it’s therefore the more sorry that the actual gunplay disappoints. Enemies come at you in a straight line and are only a threat by their numbers as well as by the irritating trick of spawning behind your back. As said you’ll mostly play with Delgado and Black and will only switch to “try out something else”. It doesn’t help much that certain powers like the “health drain” from Rawlings are totally useless.
Although your team members are quite capable of making a stand and will rarely get stuck in the decor, they do die quickly. Especially the exploding enemies can decimate your team quite quickly (tip: Delgado’s fire dragon).
That’s not such a big problem though, as all characters can be revived with a simple push on the X-button. In some pieces your friends will fall like flies so that you’ll almost be spending more time on reviving than actually shooting monsters yourself. I don’t have to draw a picture to make you understand that this can be quite frustrating, I guess?
Also the linear environments aren’t quite interesting. They exist almost completely out of hallways with large rooms attached to them, where new loads of scary creeps arrive. Also the levels are quite empty and not really interactive.
On top of that they’re always in the same colors; in the current age that’s sand brown, during the crusades blood red and the Roman era it’s all grey. The monotone and washed of colors may be design colors but they achieve the next level of boredom rather than atmosphere. There are some decent levels (the river of blood, the Roman bathing house, …) but these are heavily outnumbered.
The design of the armies of the Firstborn is nicely sickening, whether it’s child crusaders without legs, zombified legionairs or horribly mutilated German soldiers with heavy machine guns. Also the soundtrack nicely follows the tones of the battles and often brings icy tension.
The sound effects are just good and the voice-acting could be worse also. Sometimes the lines of text are bit over-acted but I’ve heard worse. Also there’s quite some swearing and your team has some nifty one-liners in their sleave (example: Delgado towards Black when you take control over her for the first time: “Now you know how it feels like to have a man inside you!”).
Clive Barker’s Jericho is certainly not the best shooter of the year but it does have its strongpoints. The 10 hour lasting storyline drags you along despite the tasteless combat; the switching between characters is quite fun and original, and the design of the enemy monsters is really morbid. A fine game to rent, especially due to the lack of a multiplayer mode.