Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Fahrenheit Xbox Review

In the last two decades there has been a noticeable trend in video games, one that most people would have noticed. Video games are starting to grow up, and I don't mean like Manhunts gore or Call of Duty's realism, I am talking about something that is trying to find its place in the world and become its own thing. I have a belief that video games are currently going through a trend that other forms of mediums have gone through before.
I will start at the beginning, when plays were invented the idea was to just act out a piece of writing and in all fairness it is still just that. Then film came along which tried to be the same thing, but soon people started to realise that film wasn't going to catch on if it tried to be something else but thanks to many innovative minds film has become one of the world biggest mediums and it still entertains millions of people to this day.
But what about gaming? Well in the last 20 years video games have started to become inspired by the idea of interactive media, games are not games anymore they are interactive entertainment where you can live out things that you could not in real life which is why it has become the fastest growing medium on the planet today. But even with that in mind it is only like this because games have set to become the next film, I suppose an interactive movie would be the idea in many modern cases, but that is not to say that all games are like that. There are different types of games, most noticeably those that try to be like movies by using a mixture of action and story but those are often let down by the fact that the story is very flawed and when you tear it down to the bear bones it's just a game.
Then you have games that are interactive movies, most noticeably in the adventure genre. Back in the early days there were what we would call a text adventure, a game that was entirely text and nothing else, no images, scenery or anything like that, I would go as far as to call them the first true interactive book. Modern adventures are like that but in movie form, most noticeably games like Fahrenheit.
Created by Quantic Dream, Fahrenheit is a paranormal thriller that grips you in the same way as a film with its well written plot, characters and story.
The game is set in New York, January 2009 and begins with a scene showing Lucas Kane (the games protagonist), in a possessed trance stabbing a man to death in the restroom of a diner. After the murder Lucas wakes from his trance to find the horrible thing he has done and flees from the scene. He did not know the man he killed and he had no idea why he killed him, all he does know is that it wasn't his fault. Now a wanted man Lucas must clear his name or face a life of imprisonment.
Lucas isn't the only character you control, throughout the game you get to control all of the games main characters most noticeably the games other two heroes detectives Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles who have been assigned to find and arrest Kane.
Because of the multiple characters the game has a story that can branch depending on what you do, the actions of one character directly effects another character. An example of this is if you instantly flee from the diner at the start of the game after you commit the murder you will make it easy for the police who will find all clues with ease, but if you try and cover up your actions and hide the evidence then you could end up with the police missing a few clues. Either way your actions will change the games story in some way. That is not to say the game game will not lose the plot, not matter what your actions are the game will stay within the plot.
The story is not the only thing that is affected by your actions, the game also has a physiological theme to it. The main characters all have a mental health meter that ranges from full ("Neutral") to empty ("Wrecked") and is there to show you the condition of the characters mental health. Many of the games events (such as Lucas seeing the body of his victim) subtract points from the mental health meter (until it goes down from neutral to stressed, tense and so on) but everyday actions such as sleep, food, drink and using the toilet will add points to it, same is said for events where the character makes a discovery or action that helps them in some way (the best example of this is a moral choice early in the game where Lucas can either rescue a drowning child and risk being caught by the police or he can simply walk away from it all and pretend that nothing had happened). An empty sanity meter will end the game depending on the character, Carla and Tyler will hand in their badges and quit the force while Lucas will either turn himself in or commit suicide.
The characters themselves are all very well developed and three dimensional, they all have a personality, back story and morals. The characters are not perfect and they all have problems, before the murder Lucas was dealing with a split between him and his girlfriend, Tyler is nagged about which is more important to him his job or his lover Sam, and Carla is claustrophobic.
The gameplay mechanics are not very solid, the games controls can be confusing because of the camera, it is one of those games where your direction might change with the camera angle, not that it is a problem it doesn't ruin what is a story driven experience.
At the start of the game you are told by the games director David Cage that Fahrenheit is a "interactive film" which is what the developer Quantic Dream had intended for it to be. To demonstrate this point the game contains action scenes where you do not directly control the characters of the game, instead you are made to preform quick time events (or QTEs), when this happens the game becomes reminiscent of the old electronic toy Simon where four lights would flash and you had to press them in that order, get it right and you will continue, get it wrong and you could get a game over. Many people hate QTEs because they break up the gameplay but I don't mind them because they let you do things that would normally be impossible in the game. Another type of QTE featured in the game is where the player had to rapidly hit the shoulder buttons, this is suppose to tire the player and is normally featured in scenes that involve actions like running. The idea is that the player is immense in the game.
Graphically the game isn't bad but it could be better for a game that was released in 2005. The games sound track is really impressive and it comes in two types, you have the background music, this normally happens during events to help to create a sense of suspense or urgency, the other type of music is the music you can play in the game, for example when at home the character you are playing as can turn their stereo and listen to some music this music is good too because it gives you an insight into the characters tastes in music, their likes and dislikes.
In all it may not be perfect but Fahrenheit is one of the best examples of an interactive movie out there, the only thing that is more movie than it are interactive Full Motion Video games like Wing Commander (a sci-fi game that sees you take control of a character who is played by Mark Hammil), besides that there isn't much out there like it.
If you are a fan of adventure games or thrillers buy this game, if you want more buy its sequel Heavy Rain.

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Giga. :) I'll look into picking this up before I try out Heavy Rain.