This is the fifth game by adventure game specialists Revolution Software (of Broken Sword fame) and this time around they've apparently tried something new and added a bit of stealth action into the mix. Fortunately I'm the kind of guy who likes to keep an open mind, or else I would've been predicting that this is going to turn out to be a total train wreck right about now.
I started off by walking over and having a chat with my contact Kostov, the leader of the Volgian resistance. This bought up dialogue icons letting me choose which topic to discuss. After running out of icons we eventually agreed that I'd have better chance of sneaking into this building if he was loud and annoying near the entrance.
You know, these graphics are actually fairly impressive for the PlayStation I reckon. The game has 3D characters over 2D backgrounds, Resident Evil style, though fortunately I'm not forced to play using Resident Evil's walking controls (unless I decide to use the d-pad, then I am.)
Oh damn, I just checked imdb. He really was played by a 50 year old! Well, fair enough then.
The guard points me towards the door on the top right, but I suppose I should go over and see what icons we have to chat about first. It's an adventure game, so I'm sure I'll need to chat to everyone, press every button, and take absolutely everything that I can fit into my giant endless pockets.
Meanwhile in the present day, Cord seems a bit confused by this turn of events as if he died here he wouldn't be alive to be interrogated later. He rewinds his story to the last save and tries again.
SEVEN DEATHS LATER.
It seems that some enemies need to be sneaked past and some should be avoided entirely. Despite the game showing me I could bullshit my way past armed guards in that screen earlier, it absolutely won't work anywhere else and if they catch me I'm screwed. I do have a gun and I can fight back, with Cord automatically targeting whatever enemy he dislikes most at that moment, but he can't last more that a few hits and the enemies pour in from the next room if they hear anything.
It would've be nice if this had labelled rooms and objects of interest marked on it as well, even if it was limited to places I've already been. My poor memory could use the help.
I tried shooting him anyway, but Cord has a thing against executing the innocent in cold blood so I had to resort to talking to him instead. Sadly there was no option to bring up that obvious red cable hanging by the window in conversation, so it seems I'm just going to have to leave it there... for now.
I mean pressing X on everything worked out just fine, I managed to find this computer to play around with, it's the walking part around that I've been struggling with. Holy shit does Cord control badly, in either control style. He bounces off walls, he has real issues making it through doorways, and I've even managed to get him to start walking down a staircase, turn 180 degrees halfway down, and then walk right back the way he came. It's bringing me to despair! I've literally been yelling at my screen because of how fucking frustrating it can be just to get him to navigate a corridor. And you can imagine how bad it is when I'm checking corners and behind boxes for items.
In the PC game you don't have to search every piece of the background in every room as the usable items are clearly marked, which makes it much harder to miss things. Plus is this I can stealth past enemies and leave a room without worrying that they're guarding something I'll need to pick up. No sparkles around means there's nothing I need worry about.
Okay to be fair he does turn his head to look in the direction of things he can interact with. Which is very handy in a game where he spends half the time tiny or in shadow.
Anyway I was going to look around for a subatomic particle to tie the cable to, but Cord automatically tied it around that pin I found in the crate before I got the chance. Fuck it, I'm gonna shove it all into the accelerator anyway. What's the worst that can happen?
But I have a cunning plan. I'm going to wait behind this box for them to turn their back to me and start patrolling down the corridor, then I'm going to run up behind them each in turn and knock them out with a single karate chop to the back of the neck. As long as I can get them before they see me, I should do alright.
It took several more tries, (with 20 seconds of loading each time) but I eventually managed this room in the end. The hardest bit I think, is getting my attacks to connect as I can't really judge depth properly from this camera angle. Plus my unarmed attacks don't seem to lock on to the nearest enemy like my pistol does, so I can end up accidentally facing the wrong direction as well.
This is actually less annoying on the PC version fortunately. Not because they fixed the combat, but because it doesn't have the loading times. Failure is a lot more bearable when you can jump right back in instantly.
I quickly shuffled forward a step, knocked him out, then ran up and got his friend before he spotted me (after bouncing around the bridge a few times because of these bloody controls). With both guards taken out, I walked back across to search the area for items. Then got shot in the back by an enemy hiding off screen somewhere. I don't know, maybe he was alerted when he tripped over the body of his fallen friend.
Man, I bet these helpful NPC had no idea I'd be giving them all up to an evil interrogator after I got out of the mine.
|Sinister Pair of Eyes:||"So, the man who works in the lower elevator room in Mine Section B told you how to avoid the robots did he?"|
|John Cord:||"Yes, that seems about right Or maybe I wandered off and got shot to death, I can't really remember."|
|Sinister Pair of Eyes:||"Well then, we shall have to find this man and execute him for collaborating with enemy spies. Right after we send his entire family to the cells for life!"|
Alright, time to save the game and then set up these lifts to keep the robots off my back when I make my escape.
They drive in and shoot Cord to death and then it's all over. The moral of the story is, make multiple saves because you never know when a game is going to fuck you over.
I hope the plot twist at the end of this is that Cord is basically lying the whole time and the whole game is bullshit. This would be an excellent time for some unreliable narration.
In my opinion In Cold Blood could have actually been a great game, if it wasn't for a few tiny little flaws holding it back from absolute perfection. For instance:
- Cord stumbles around rooms like he's drunk, bouncing off walls.
- It's an adventure game that uses the generally unloved Grim Fandango style of control instead of giving the player a cursor.
- It's a third person shooter that uses awkward Resident Evil style fixed camera angles, and the combat is pretty bad in general I reckon. Tap fire until you win! Or most likely lose, as all the people in the next room come pouring out to join in.
- It's a stealth game where you can't judge depth or tell which way enemies are facing half the time.
- In the PS version it's unclear which items you're meant to pick up or interact with. Object hunting's bad enough in adventure games that let you sweep the screen with a mouse, in this it's even worse.
- You can end up saving when the game's in an unwinnable state without any way of knowing about it.
- It's not uncommon to walk straight into a room full of enemies and get immediately gunned down.
- PS version is blessed with 20 seconds of loading after every fuck up.
- The first puzzle (in a spy adventure) is based around shoving a rope into a particle accelerator and firing across a ravine into a wall with enough force that it can support Cord's weight without slipping back out. Well okay, you might not actually consider this one a flaw.
- You can get shot at and injured in cutscenes.
- "Go up to the switch room and turn on the auxiliary elevator. No there is no reason at all why we're making you backtrack up a floor just to press a button."
- The game just isn't really that compelling so far and most NPCs aren't interesting enough to be worth talking to.
- FOR FUCK'S SAKE CORD, JUST GO THROUGH THE FUCKING DOOR! PLEASE! I'M BEGGING YOU!
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