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Clive Barker's Jericho Review

Clive Barker's Jericho pack shot
Developer:Alchemic Productions
Publisher:Codemasters
Genre:First Person Shooter
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://www.codemasters.com/jericho/
Release Date:October 26th, 2007 (UK)
Reviewer:Amdy Hemphill (Bandit)
 

"In the beginning, God created the Firstborn, God's aborted attempt at creating mankind, an entity neither dark nor light, male or female, both beautiful and terrible to behold. Disturbed by the power of his creation, God left it unfinished, banishing the Firstborn to the abyss, forsaken and unloved."

Clive Barker's first foray into the world of video games is, in a word, stunning. Even the first cut-scene is enough to make the hair rise on your neck.

Flashes from a revolving red light reveal the scene, a cramped cargo bay of a chopper, buffeted by the wind. Looking up, your character observes the Jericho team, six men and women sworn to protect mankind from the supernatural terror of a world beyond the normal.

The Jericho team are no ordinary special ops unit, as part of the elite Occult Warfare Division, they are the world's leading experts in all things paranormal, imagine FEAR on steroids. Each of the characters has his or her special power, be it offensive or restorative, and combined with the characters' more conventional weaponry they are deadly to anything that they face.

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Your character, Cpt Devin Ross, is a healer and armed with an assault rifle and shotgun combo, Black, the sniper, is telekinetic and can move objects with her mind or steer bullets from afar, ensuring a good hit every time. Cole, the computer wiz, is a 'reality hacker,' capable of controlling space and time, transporting items through portals and slowing down battles so she can sneak behind enemies and attack with her machine gun. Jones, the quiet man, is a seer, and can project himself around corners and possess enemy bodies and set them alight or use them against their friends.

Church, the katana-wielding dynamo, is a blood mage, capable of casting powerful binding magic with her own blood, at the expense of her health. Rawlings, the old priest, is an exorcist and healer, and deadly with his dual customisable pistols, each fitted with a choice of explosive, normal or fletchette ammo. And finally, Delgado, the chain gunner, is a pyromancer, and the obelisk on his arm is the home for his captive flame spirit, a powerful unholy weapon that feeds on the souls of the living, while burning them alive.

The setting is the Middle Eastern city of Al-Kahli, the mission, to locate and recover a Swiss guard recon team dispatched after some unusual reading were picked up below the city.

The chopper hits dirt, and Jericho is on the ground.

Suddenly, you're in the middle of a sandstorm, covering your eyes as the chopper takes off, you receive your first mission objective, move to an underground facility and recover the Swiss team. Ascending a hill with the rest of your team, you reach the crest, only to find Al-Kahli in ruins, and a huge sandstorm brewing at its heart.

And that's when the real game begins.

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The true mastery of Jericho is it's cinematic quality, Clive Barker, the imagination behind Hellraiser and other classic horror movies, has put his warped ideas into this game, and you will find yourself literally fighting your way through hell. The enemies are plentiful and terrifying, the action relentless and terrifying, the music is downright terrifying. Generally, it was one of the more terrifying shooters I've ever played, a whole new level above Doom 3.

So, gifted with the combined firepower of the team, you set off into Al-Khali. The city itself is rendered beautifully, the textures of the broken buildings and flame-gutted temples very realistic, with a draw distance that is quite stunning.

The basic premise of the game is that Al-Khali was the place where God banished the firstborn to when he grew afraid of its power, and once a millennia the Firstborn breaks free of its bonds and attempts to assimilate the world. Seven Sumerian priests sealed the Firstborn in a huge obelisk at the heart of the city during its first escape attempt, and every other time, a team of men and women have fought to keep it sealed, this time, it's the turn of the Jericho squad.

Whenever the Firstborn is defeated, it takes back with it a part of the earth, a slice of time and space, into a place called the Pyxsis. Each time it attempts escape, the layers of time spill out into the mortal realm, layering a thousands of years of history before the squad, years of history filled with the tortured souls of those sucked in by the Firstborn.

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The essential dynamic is that you and the squad need to fight your way towards the Firstborn through different ages of time, from modern Al-Khali, through World War Two, the Crusades, the Romans and finally the fourth millennium BC. Each of these time slices has its own distinct style, in WW2 you're facing deformed Nazi soldiers with chain-guns and flamethrowers, in the Crusades, giant armoured knights scarred by the Firstborn's power, and so it goes, until you reach the very birth of God's first child.

Throw into the mix an ex DOW operative turned psychotic cult leader, hundreds of hideously deformed enemies, and shed load of firepower, and you've got one of the more intense shooters of recent times.

Shortly into the game, your character, Ross, is killed in action, but, in Al-Khali, death is not the end, and soon enough you can possess any of the team and use their unique abilities to fight the enemies that come screaming at you, Brandishing every conceivable weapon. Luckily, with the powers and weapons of the squad it is fairly easy to keep the denizens of Al Khali at bay, especially when you learn to combine their powers into even more powerful attacks. But up the difficulty level and it become a whole lot harder, and you will find yourself warping from character to character as you try to figure out who best to use against the next set of screaming enemies running at you.

The character design in this game is second to none, each character feels rounded and has a good balance of weaponry and powers, and voice acting is also very good, with Rawlings' American drawl a particular stand out. A small problem comes from the characters repeating the same phrase all the time, like Rawlings' 'By the grace of God' every time something big and nasty lurches out of the dirty air ahead. Also, while the characters are all rendered perfectly, their facial animations don't really change, so Delgado yelling a battle cry while firing his chain gun doesn't really match with the blank look and open mouth of his character model, but in the scope of the game, that doesn't matter too much. The lack of a jump button is more of a pain however, which the game gives you the option to climb over obstacles at the press of A, not all obstacles can be climbed, and in the middle of a firefight, not being able to jump over a low wall and escape the blade armed cultist is a real pain.

Also, the game, while a fantastic single player experience is sadly lacking a multiplayer, and it would have been really cool to roast some guy called 'iownyou2007' with your flame spirit, or guide a bullet into his brainpan with perfect telekinetic aim.

Summary

All in all, one of the best horror shooters I have ever played, a thrilling story, great visuals, good characters and more blood and guts than you can shake a chain gun equipped, fire demon possessed pyromancer at.

The bottom line
8.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Great storyline
  • Very cool characters
  • Truly terrifying to play in the dark

Not so good stuff

  • Characters repeat the same phrase all the time
  • No multiplayer
  • No jump button


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