- Australia's best PS2 & PC Reviews
PS2PCGameCubeContact UsDVDSearchWin Stuff

PC Reviews: Contract J.A.C.K


Contract J.A.C.K Screenshots

The Final Say!


Contract J.A.C.K
 - reviewed by Tory Favro
Review Date: March 2004
Review Score: 7.1/10 
Distributor: Vivendi Universal

A worthwhile prequel to the brilliant No One Lives Forever franchise? Not really, but certainly a solid first person shooter that most gamers will enjoy.

I was looking forward to this title as we in the office loved the first two title in the No One Lives Forever series, so to have the official prequel come out from a different perspective was something that I was fully waiting to play. In this title you are playing the part of Jack which by the way stands for Just Another Contract Killer and unfortunately this appears to be Just Another Quick Grab at a Buck.

Gone is the humour of the first two games which made them so much fun to play and part of the reason that they were so addictive as you would wait for the next funny moment to occur. Replaced by this is a game where you play the part of a killing machine who works for the other side than that which you were used to. Jack works for H.A.R.M and is perfectly suited to that violent environment and the directly design of the game lends itself perfectly to that end.

I have to say that this game is still pretty neat despite the above mentioned bugbears with some very fast paced fighting and levels that look lovely but are mainly aesthetically pleasing, but gamers will find that a lot of the design leads to a lot of linear gameplay and will be penned in by invisible walls that will keep you on track for the game without the ability to go around the level and have a real look around.

Most of your attacks I found are actually triggered by where you are on the level as opposed to your true actions being the precursor to action. It sort of negates the need to use the silenced machinegun but surprisingly this is still my favourite weapon, even though there are a lot of weapons to use.

Fans of the claret will be delighted at this title as well as the game overflows with blood and gore, in fact it floods the screen with some brilliant sound effects accompanying the death scenes of the masses of similar looking enemies that crowd the buildings and alleys that are in the game. I also liked zooming into the sights of the crossbow and taking out some enemies that way. The crossbow is a great weapon and a personal favourite of mine and just a lot of fun to use.

The enemy AI is nice in the game and the bad guys are not quite as stupid as you'd think. There is a pattern to their evasions however and if you take cover and observe you will see a distinct series of movements that you can exploit to your best advantage. I guess that this disappointed me a bit however for the average gamer they might not notice it unless they hang around a particular area for a particular period of time.

Something that really annoyed me in this day and age of realism were all the boundaries placed upon me by this game. Why for example could I not jump over boxes that were only as high as the thighs of the character? The feeling of having a leash around your neck being dragged around is a very real one and one that got to be frustrating.

Despite the fact that this is a nice looking game, a major gripe is that there are not many character models in the way of enemies which made your fighting not really focused as it always appears that you are fighting the same guy. Also all the cool gadgets that you'd expect from a No One Lives Forever title are not here. Jack is a very uncomplicated killing machine of the grab and grunt variety. Ammo placement however is random as far as your fallen foes are concerned and you will find that you have to switch from weapon to weapon as you run out of bullets for a particular weapon.

There are also some problems concerning body targeting in the game as well with head shots not necessarily killing foes with one shot one kill no matter if the enemy is helmeted or not. I don't think that it was a well thought out targeting system and one that should have been really checked out during Quality Assurance testing as any gamer would have been quick to complain about it.

There are 15 missions or so over 7 levels here for the taking and sadly it doesn't last as long as you'd hope for. It's a fun enough game in the Doom 2 sense of the word as far as game structure goes with it's non linear approach, but it's a funny old title that doesn't really do credit to the two games that went before it. I finished this game in about 7 hours and that was procrastinating about for the sake of this review. Your average gamer is going to plow through it in about 5-6 hours. There are a great many variables to the title that give it promise, but there is not enough to get overly excited about the game until it comes down to possibly a bargain price as shops try to clear out of stock. Either that or you can rent it first and see what you think. I am at odds to really assess my true feelings about the game, I enjoyed it but as your guide to opening your wallet, I would have to say try before you buy and chances are if you rent it, you will finish it that night.

- Tory Favro

Copyright 2004