The twisted literary mind of Clive Barker revisits the videogame world to bring us the horror flavoured FPS, Jericho. Mingling in the darkest elements of horror fiction, Clive Barker’s Jericho takes a Special Forces Occult squad and puts them up against the resurfacing of pure evil.
Clive Barkers Jericho revisits the horror brilliance from Clive Barker the deviant mind behind the motion picture Hellraiser. If you’re not familiar with Clive Barker’s literary work has also inspired a number of other films including Candyman and Gods and Monsters. Clive has also tried his hand at the videogame media outlet with the 2001 release of Clive Barker’s Undying. Similar to Jericho, Undying is a FPS set around the paranormal and occult. Undying also mixed weapons with magic in its attempt to bend the first person genre into a more classic blood and guts horror game. Undying was met with critical acclaim with sales not living up to its publisher’s expectations. In 2007 with a new developer, publisher, and storyline, Clive Barker sets to make a name within gaming.
Released for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, gamers who have been waiting for a basic supernatural blood-fest can now get ready to lock and load. Based heavily on the supernatural the tale of Jericho rewinds the clock and speaks of an evil that was god first creation before Adam and Eve, the Firstborn. Well it figures that this creature is climbing out of the abyss to create hell on earth. This brings in a number of ancient zombified beings to spread evil across the land. On the good side is the Jericho Squad. A Special Forces team hidden in deep in the ranks of U.S. that excels at para-psychology and modern warfare. It’s their job to jump into the flaming demon pit that is rumbling from the depths of hell.
Actually, it’s not really hell that you’ll be venturing through, it’s more like a layers of time that all resonate from your starting point the Middle Eastern city of Al-Khali. In Al-Khali you will start to peel back these layers as you fight though other historical areas like Nazi occupied, World War II. The medieval period of the crusades in classic Arabia, into the glorious Roman Empire which rained from 30BC to 476 AD. Then you will climb the Tower of Babel into the 4th Millennium BC for the final showdown with the ultimate evil, the Firstborn.
You play the leader of the Jericho Squad Capt. Devin Ross. Devin is the man in charge with the ability to heal your team mates and shoot a mean machine gun. At the end of level one Devin acquires the ability to control other members of the team telepathically. The other members of the squad that make up a total of six start with the dual wielding Priest, Father Paul Rawlings who has the ability to perform exorcisms. Sgt. Frank Delgado the big man with fire casting abilities and a mini-gun. Capt. Xavier Jones master of astral projection and possession. Cpl. Simone Cole the hacker who can also alter time. Then finally two PVC clad girls that round out the team, Abigail Black, a telekinetic sniper and Wilhelmina “Billie” Church a ninja blood mage who can slices through enemies with her razor sharp katana.
The Jericho Squad is impressive gang of soldiers and better yet, they are controllable. If you’re new to Jericho, give youself some time with each player so you can understand what each character has to offer. Jericho starts off really slow feeling like an cross between Quake 4 and Doom 3, however once the wheel start rolling the real immersion and fun of this title starts to come out. Instead of building up atmosphere and tension this experience turns up the heat and unloads in a fury of demonic hellfire. There are no Resident Evil type moments, its total blood shed which feels closer to a classic PC shooter than the innovative genre mixing shooters we have today.
Learning each characters unique abilities is an interesting mix to the gameplay element of Jericho. It’s in switching up characters that Jericho finds its sweet spot creating something new in the first person genre. Each character is rather different from each other which putting an exclamation point on the reason to switch it up and cut loose. If you get real crafty you can experiment with combining powers to gain an advantage against the legions of undead. This innovation of such is a godsend for Jericho because without the ability to switch characters on the fly, Jericho would be just another shooter.
Character swapping also makes up the lack of weapons, picking up weapons and having freedom with you character. After every checkpoint your ammo is replaced, so you will never have to worry about running out of bullets. Also thrown into Jericho is the ability to heal hurt team mates and bring them back to the action, so no one really dies unless the game throws you into a deliberate cut-scene. Jericho really feels a step behind in the times concerning the core mechanics of the game, so again, this implantation of other characters saves Jericho from the waste bin.
When you’re not directly controlling the other squad mates the A.I. does a good job of picking up your slack or even out performing you in some cases. The squad is split into two teams indicated on your HUD as red and blue and can be ordered to advance or hold position. It’s squad basics 101, nothing more. At least the clever squad mates make up for the lack of squad tactics with their crack shooting and demon killing expertise. Examining the squad foundation more the lack of variety in the environments really doesn’t call for flanking or other military formations. Jericho is linear all the way, walk and talk and kill anything that moves.
If you just put down your controller from Halo 3, you might wonder if the developers have played a game in the last three years because Jericho forgets about an important feature of FPS, multiplayer. Multiplayer could have been a really bonus to Jericho's shelve life. Even multiplayer basics like deathmatch and capture the flag would have been nice. I guess there is always Shadowrun if you need your guns and spell fix. This means that after you're done scraping your boots of the single player campaign, it's all over for Jericho without much pull to draw you back.
Clive Barker’s Jericho tries to separate itself from the mix with its character swamping feature, however the traditional aspects of the gameplay makes me think it’s closer to Doom then Bioshock. Filled with a lot more dialog, Jericho can get a little drawn out until you start pumping lead into some flesh eating creature. Jericho is clever enough for a good time with a FPS, however as anything else Jericho should trade in this blood gushing festival of carnage for jelly donuts.