Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy -
June 16th 2005
Introduction:The Adventure Company is back with another PC port to the Xbox. This time around we follow two stores as they both track down a serial killer with a thing for the ladies. It's old school for the PC, for the console it's new and fresh.
The Game:The first thing that you should know about Still Life is that it's a point and click type of game. You control the game as a cursor and you just move over the items you want to interact with, surprisingly it works well without the mouse. The emphasis is on the story, and not on intense in your face action so this interface works fine. There are two other things you should know about Still Life before you start your adventure, this is a mature rated game with plenty of swearing and gruesome imagery and you'll need to patience if you want to attempt to play through this slow moving game.
You start the game as young FBI officer Victoria McPherson investigating the brutal murders of three young women. Victoria has a quick wit and brings a level of sarcastic comedy to the game, you'll no doubt catch the Silence of the Lambs reference right off the bat, "Clarice". Still Life quickly has you using all forensic tools you've been accustomed too from popular shows like CSI. This serial killer is a piece of work and you'll start to uncover more disturbing evidence of this madman. It doesn't take long to get the story going, but as soon as you get pulled in Still Life and Victoria 's mission you are shot out into another perspective.
Coincidence has it that Victoria 's grandfather was a private investigator, and while taking a break at her fathers she finds a locked trunk with his journals. The game switches to Gus McPherson and his investigation of similar sorts. This time it's the 1920's, Prague. the local prostitutes have called you to try and find out something about the missing girls. There is a murder on the loose and no respect working girl is safe. Gus's campaign is a little more interesting and will introduce you to a nice selection of characters spicing it up compared to Victoria 's progress. Gus has to do a number of deeds to complete as he closes in on the killer. This part of the game is more varied and you'll have to do a number of tasks including dog dogging and bully stopping. Like Victoria 's mission as soon as you start to get into Gus McPherson and his noble quest you are warped back to Victoria reading this episode safely on her bed.
Still Life continues to jump between both storylines to keep you wanting more. It was a little tiresome to keep switching although I understand they did this to keep things fresh. Some of the puzzles can also be a drag for casual gamers. I really didn't want to bake those cookies for dear old dad. I admit I had to resort to a walkthrough for some helpers, but for the majority I handled it. Again, you need to invest some time with this one.
Still Life is defiantly a game that you'll either be right into or you will hate. The games slow paced click and move mechanics might take a bit to adjust to, especially for console only gamers. If you can handle that then you'll probably enjoy Still Life.
Graphics & Sound:Still Life is a mixed bag when it comes to the graphics. The graphics look nice, but the game uses such old styling that it seems a little stale. I wish they tried to switch up a bit and have a little more animation in the still shots, but the most you get is one object moving in a scene. Wow look at that cat sitting in a corner with its tale moving. I think the days of Police Quest have been done and we can add some cool effects tastefully so it doesn't ruin the ambience and style of the game. Besides the old school gameplay affecting the graphics they are done fairly well. The characters are a little below average, but when the cut scene movies kick in its all forgivable. This game has a cool style, but it's just too old.
The audio in Still Life is supported by 5.1 Dolby digital which is a step up from its PC counterpart. Besides the surround sound the game really boasts so average work with some musical arrangement that stick out. The voice acting is good for the most part, but as you can guess every character doesn't work like it should. Overall the audio and graphics fall into a trapping of the games mechanics and doesn't try to add anything new.
Innovation:This is one time when the innovation meter is a little messed up. Like I mentioned in the beginning of the review, Point and Click is old news to the PC. but a fresh can of worms on the console. Since this is a review of the Xbox version, the innovation score will be tilted towards the uniqueness of the title.
The innovation would have to come in the way of the story. Even though this type of story has been exhausted on TV and film it really hasn't been touched too much in the console world. This is a mature tale for adults who want to play a story more than a game. There is plenty of nudity, swearing and other mature themes in Still Life. You wouldn't want to mistake this for something like Grand Theft Auto, this is violence is more real and more in your face. It's great to have an adult themed game that isn't action based.
Mojo:Do you like crime drama, Unraveling plots, psychopathic murders, dark haired saucy deceives, and 1920's Sherlock Holmes dramas? Sure you do and so do I. Still Life is fresh and with no other games on the Xbox like this the mojo is amped up. I didn't think they would bring it to the box like the did and within the first conversation the F* word is flying. I'd digging the different pace Still Life, even if it drives me batty running around in circles trying to bake cookies!
Lowdown:Still Life, still gives life to this old formula of point and click adventures. If you were looking for a mature plot driven game mixed with drama, suspense and gore then this is your victim. Remember its pace is slow, but the reward is worth the time invested.
Gameplay: 6, Graphics/Sound: 6.5, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 8. Final: 6.5