Reviewed by Jimmy - 12.05.05
Introduction:Bethesda has brought us one of the creepest adventure games I have played in a long time with the evil, Call Of Cthuthu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Based on HP Lovecrafts fantasy writing this immersive first person adventure game will keep you awake at night with chills running down your spin.
The Game: HP Lovecraft stories are great basis for any game licence and it translates well into the first person gaming atmosphere. Although Call of Cthulhu has been delayed, over and over again its finally here. Truth be told, I lost track of the games progress over the years, but I was excited when I heard about its launch. I've been interested in the game ever since I heard about the concept and I'm glad its finally come to life. I'm not a huge Lovecraft historian, but I know of some of famed writers pieces. That being said lets get into the action of Dark Corners of the Earth.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth follows puts you in the shoes of detectiveJack Walters in the early 1920s. Jack is a troubled fellow who spends six years in Arkham Asylum (no relation to Batman) because he went schizophrenic after accidentally summoning a mysterious creature. It's an interesting to the game and it continues to get more bizarre. After Jack is released gets a call to investigate a Grocery Store owners disappearance in a town called Innsmouth. This is where you start you adventure in present time, in the creeptastic sleepy town of Innsmouth. The plot continues to twist and turn as you spiral down to the gates of hell, so to speak. Half the games allure is uncovering mysteries, so you won't catch any spoilers here.
The gameplay in Call of Cthulhu is presented in the first person, which helps bringing you into the role as Jack Walters. The controls are easy to get used, although the system isn't as fluid as a FPS. The fighting can be awkward at times, considering you have to use weapon, and running and jumping fall into the same category. Maybe this is because they wanted to base it in reality, and this is an average man. not an olympic champion, he can only do so much. So, the engine shows its age a typical problem with delayed games running on older technology. It is usually an upward battle to keep up with the standards when falling behind. The controls are so unimpressive that it hurts the game, but you can just tell that they needed some more fine tuning.
In Cthulhu you will be split between figuring out what to do next, sneaking around doing detective work, running from mobs, and gunning down evil beings. Throw in a few puzzles and we have a well rounded adventure experience. The game can defiantly be addictive which is always a bonus, though once its done you wont be back. Of course there are different difficulty levels, but half the fun is watching the story unfold. In Dark Corners provides a rounded spooky adventure game that is worth one run through.
One of the best aspects in Cthulhu is having to keep your sanity in check. Jack doesn't need another breakdown and his mind is already fragile, so you'll have to pace yourself. Head First does a great job of showing stress and intensity of the moment by Jacks vision going blurry, his hard racing and the controller vibrating like his pulse. It does help building suspense in the game, but at times you might wonder why he is so rattled. Even from the start of the game you will notice this, like he can't handle being in a room full of dead people. light weight. If you do let the sanity hit the rocks Jack will actually kills himself. Ouch! Yes he is that troubled! To combat his symptoms you can shoot some drugs. lol, No joke! There is an M on the outside of the box, so shoot up some Morphine and you'll feel no pain. Jack must be a dealer because he has an unlimited supply of that stuff.
Cthulhu doesn't use a health bar or sanity meter, which again illiterates realism. It can be tricky to know what state you're in, but if you're blurred out, colour blind, and limping it's not a good scene. You do have a strange way a healing your character in the game, but applying splints to limbs, and bandages. It brings in a view of the character and a slot for every section of his body. At first I thought this was going to be a really amazing system, although it didn't play out like I thought. Overall the concepts behind the sanity and health are awesome and the game attempts them for the majority succeeds. These features help push the score up a few notches and helps really suspense and realism into the game. Too bad it took so long to release this title, because the Xbox is coming near the end of its cycle and Cthulhu could have had a larger impact earlier on.
Graphics & Sound: Graphically, Cthulhu does a great job setting this game in dark muddy colour's with acceptable characters, and art design. Although you can tell this isn't built upon the news eye candy graphics engine, it still looks good. Head First did exactly what they needed and rounded the graphics to meet the games dark murky tone. They manage to capture a lot of small details like scratches in a wooden floor when you move a heavy object which adds to the overall product. Then they went the opposite way and over used the same character models, over and over. The town of Innsmouth is made up clones, I swear.
The sound is an important part to any game, but more so when you're dealing with a survival, horror type content. Call of Cthulhu brings charges and delivers. This is manly relevant with the great voice acting. The characters play into the cliché and deliver a good reciting of the lines, although at time Jack Walters is a little mellow. It is good just to have voice overs in RPGs these days, some do and some don't, but when it's in the final product is always better. The other aspects of the sound like effects are exceptional. Since the game creeps along with little use of a musical score all the creaking floors, slamming doors and blunt bashes are accentuated. It defiantly helps make the game seem more realistic, and at times I though I was going schizophrenic.
Mojo: Call of Cthulhu although troubled at times it is different and cool. We really don't have too many Xbox games which fit into the horror mystery category. This isn't Resident Evil, you can walk and shoot, and you will be pushed into a more story driven game before the action. I had some moments when I was freaking; this is definitely the game you need to throw on in the middle of the night. Depending on your personality you will either really feel the mojo, or you will be like "whatever". I felt the mojo lurking around every corner at times and I needed a break from the madness. Now who is the lightweight, right Jack? Creepy Mojo in Cthulhu.
Lowdown:Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is one eerie game, which provides a well rounded gaming experience. If you like suspenseful plots, dark forbidding mysteries, and adventures into the dark side this is for you. Call of Cthulhu is definitely not like most Xbox games and if you are looking for something different, here it is.
Game: 8, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 8. Final: 7.5 / 10