Long time ago,
every FPS game followed the norm of dropping you into the good guy’s
shoes to take on hordes of baddies in an attempt to save either your
girlfriend, the world, or your own ass in general. Gamers got bored
of the formula. So then, we slowly saw games letting us be the bad
guys who get to unleash havoc all around town without a care in the
world. That made people a bit happier. And thus we’ve seen a fair
share of games wherein you get to play the good guy in some, and the
bad guy in others. But think of this: How many games out there let
you be the hero, get you killed within thirty minutes of starting
the game, and then let you control your spirit and possess any of
your six team mates at will? Hmmm…left racking your brains, aren’t
you? Well, say hello to Jericho then, a game that allows you to do
exactly the above. A game with sweet graphics, excellent weaponry
and magic combos, an intriguing storyline, and innovative gameplay.
And of course, it bears the mark of Clive Barker, famed horror
novelist and film maker, so how could they go wrong? Anyways, on
with the review…
Jericho tells the
story of the 7-member squad called the Jericho team, who work for
the Department of Occult Warfare (DoW) – an organization hidden from
government view. Highly trained in dealing with supernatural
elements using an array of weaponry and magic skills, the team is
sent in to the desert of Al-Khali to investigate some rather
unpleasant paranormal activity. Apparently, God had once long ago
created a being which he then didn’t like and couldn’t kill, and so,
he banished him to another realm and started afresh. God thought
that the incident was over with, but that was far from the truth.
The creature (called the First Born) now gathers power as it
impatiently waits for the day it can break through into the human
world and begin it’s reign of terror. To get to the First Born, our
heroic squad has to find and go through several ‘breaches’ – portal
like things leading into other dimensions. And on the way to these
breaches, you’ll encounter dozens of enemies and bosses who are only
too happy to tear you apart and eat your flesh.
The storyline is
rather long and winding, and it seems just like something out of a
real novel, so you’ll want to pay close attention to all the
cutscenes and dialogs that pop up ever so frequently in the game.
You begin by
playing as the Jericho commanding officer, Ross. Your other six team
mates are split up into two teams of three each, Alpha and Omega.
You have your heavy gunner Delgado, sniper-babe Black, uzi-toting,
sword-slinging witch, Church, a dual-pistol-wielding priest named
Father Rawlings, astral projector Jones, and the grenade-chucking,
ammo-downloading cyborg human, Cole. Yeah, she downloads ammo
and health for the team at frequent intervals. Jeez, even games are
promoting piracy nowadays!
team is simple and pretty effective: you can command each team
individually to move out or hold their ground , or if you’re the
suicidal type, you can ask the whole group to stay back while you
scout ahead. It’s all upto you, but you might not want to do that if
you intend to survive battles for longer than five minutes.
Controlling your own character is pretty standard FPS fare, except
for the annoying fact that there’s no jumping in this game.
Coming to the
battles and all the gunplay, this is one aspect which Jericho excels
at. Sure, the game won’t have you crapping your pants in fear, but
it’s got its fair share of startles and (nasty) surprises. There are
a ton of enemy and boss types to deal with in the game, and you’ll
have a great deal of fun dealing with all of them. After dying and
discovering that you can take control of any of your team mates at
will (once they permit you to do so), you have access to a vast
array of weaponry and a decent amount of magic. Each character has
either two weapons, or two ammo types for one weapon, which doubles
the fun. For example, Father Rawlings’ pistols can be configured to
fire two different types of rounds at the same time, Black’s sniper
can launch grenades and fire normal bullets, while Delgado has a
chaingun and a pistol. And you’re going to need all this firepower
to get through the hordes of demons blocking your path. Some of the
more suicidal ones will come running at you in spite of you having
unloaded a whole clip (sometimes even two!) into their chest.
Headshots seem to work best in this game, so sharpen your aiming
skills before jumping in because the battles in Jericho can get
ridiculously intense at times. On the other hand, taking down bosses
normally has some sort of pattern or puzzle element to it, so simply
firing at them is a waste of time and ammo.
Like I said, it’s
not all guns and grenades here, it’s also about the magic. Being a
bunch of heretics has its own advantages, you know! Father Rawlings
can heal from a distance, Delgado can unleash his fire spirit and
ignite enemies from afar, Cole can engage a temporal device which
slows down time, Jones can astrally project himself and use
telekinesis & pyrokinesis, and Church can freeze enemies in place
with her blood magic. One of the best things though has got to be
Black’s “ghost bullet”. Press ‘E’ (by default) when you’re playing
as Black and she’ll fire a special bullet which you can guide around
the environment in slow-mo using your mouse, possibly penetrating
multiple targets before the bullet vanishes. The view looks
absolutely cool when you’re guiding the bullet, and nailing an enemy
through the head is totally satisfying.
Needless to say,
you will get almost nowhere if you don’t make use of these abilities
frequently enough, no matter how much of lead you pump outta your
The best part about
this game has got to be the way in which it implements the ‘full
body awareness’ system to give you that realistic first-person feel.
If an enemy slashes at your face or head-butts you, your view blurs
and the camera swivels around to give you the effect that your head
has rocked back or sideways. You’ll notice some really clever camera
work at several points along the way which will leave you staring at
the screen in amazement. There are also some of these moments in the
‘mini games’, which are reminiscent of the ones in Tomb Raider:
Legend, wherein you have to hit the directional keys to match
on-screen prompts in order to save yourself from falling off a
cliff, or stop an enemy from eating you alive. Totally cool…
visual presentation and art style in Jericho are top notch. Right
from the main menu down to the weapon models, environments, and
magic effects, Jericho looks beautiful. You can tell that a great
deal of thought and work has gone into creating the otherworldly
abominations that roam the land of Al Khali and other areas in the
game. The creatures look extremely gross and disfigured, and that’s
good for a horror-survival FPS. And they also have this penchant for
puking blood all over the place. That looks good too.
The textures are
mighty sharp, and the draw distance is pretty amazing as well.
Motion blur, advanced particle effects, light trails, and decals all
help pile on the eye-candy in this game. If you’ve got the hardware,
Jericho’s waiting to drench your visual senses.
visuals are the sound effects and voice-overs. There’s not a lot of
music in this game, but that only makes the game creepier. Weapons
sound pretty hardcore and powerful, and it’s a joy to unload a few
clips from Rawlings’ pistols or Delgado’s chaingun just for the sake
of hearing them do their job. Each character has great voice-overs,
and there are some pretty lame but funny one-liners too, mostly
spouted by Delgado. The hell spawns of Al Khali make some terrific
grunts, groans and screams too (until you shoot their head off –
that seems to silence them somehow).
Jericho’s audio-visual department is totally satisfying, and
definitely next-gen material!
There’s a ton of horror shooters out there, but few of them come
with the level of intensity, polish, or story-telling that Jericho
has. It’s a great experience to play through, and will appease to
fans of both, horror and action games. Heck, even if you’re
remotely interested in the FPS genre, give Jericho a shot – you
won’t be disappointed. This has got to be the best and most intense
horror-survival game we’ve seen this year, and the fact that it has
an acclaimed novelist of the same genre backing it, makes it all the
more interesting. It’s a winner for sure; go get it NOW!!!