| The Cameron
Files: Pharaoh's Curse
Review by Jen
Plain vanilla. The antithesis of "groundbreaking."
Same ol' same ol'. This is a difficult review to write because
there's really not a whole lot to say about Pharaoh's Curse.
This lackluster effort is a followup to Loch
Ness (released in North America as The Cameron
Files: Secret at Loch Ness, or something like thatafter
all, why use two words when 20 will do?), and the events of Pharaoh's
Curse follow but are almost completely unrelated to those
in Loch Ness.
As the game starts, Our Hero, globetrotting private detective
Alan Parker Cameron, is plunked down in 1930s Cairo (that's in
Egypt, you knowreal original location for an adventure game,
huh?) to keep a date with Moira MacFarley, winsome young thing
from Loch Ness. The hotel's deskman sends Our Hero off
to a museum of Egyptian antiquities per the Girl's instructions,
but when Our Hero arrives there, said Girl is nowhere in evidence.
So what does Our Hero do? Why, snoop, of course, and pick up anything
that his pixel hunt happens to uncover.
Eventually he unearths a paper-thin plot dealing with Nazis and
magical artifacts, evil mummies (mummy, I mean; there's only one),
and ... well, that's about it. In a race against time, Our Hero
must solve the mystery and ... not stop World War II? Okay, he's
really just retracing the footsteps of the Girl and trying to
get, shall we say, closer? to her, and meanwhile those pesky Nazis
keep getting in his way. The mummy rears his ugly head every once
in a while to throw in the obligatory element of danger, with
the inevitable Wanadoo-style timed sequences that result in numerous
instant deaths for the ever-resilient-courtesy-of-frequent-saves
Puzzles are run-of-the-mill inventory-usage brain teasers. At
least there are no mazes this time around. That underwater maze
in Loch Ness was a fun-sucker to be sure, and I'm glad
the developers paid heed to the plaintive wails of the players
and ditched that stupid idea. The puzzles are actually fairly
organic to the game and some are pretty creative; others obviously
are nothing more than filler, though.
Interface is pure point-and-click. A left click interacts with
onscreen things or persons, and a right click brings up the inventory.
Inside the inventory, besides the items you pick up, are a wallet
where all of the papers you steal end up and another folio of
sorts where you can replay the game's cutscenes in case you missed
something due to an untimely musical crescendo or a howler monkey
in the same room. There are no subtitles, unfortunately. Save
game slots are limited to 16 (I think), but the amount proved
to be more than sufficient. If you are a Dramamine junkie, be
forewarned: this is one of those games where the cursor is affixed
to the center of the screen and everything revolves around it.
This is not a difficult game if you are well-versed in adventuring
arcana. New players might be put off by some of the nonsensical
devices employed, but old hands will find themselves on familiar
groundwe've all trodden it enough times in the past that
for us this can be viewed as a, well, retread. Sometimes there
are far too many locations that must be revisited in order to
perform minute cursor-sweeping inspections for that one teeny
item you've overlooked, particularly in the museum.
The graphics are passable. They look nice and are clear and well
laid out. They are pretty lifeless, though. A big chunk of the
game takes place on a Nile riverboat, and while you're outside
looking at the water, you hear the gentle waves lapping on the
sides of the boat ... but the water doesn't move. You hear birds
in the background, but you never see anything in the skies. After
you finish talking to the barman, he will go back to what he was
doing, and then he will just be there ... moving his arm
up and down, up and down, up and down, bobbing his head up and
down, up and down ... every time you go back. And that's if you're
lucky. Usually there is no one at all in evidence anywhere you
go. People always talk about those lonely first-person Myst
clonesthis is a lonely first-person I-don't-know-what,-maybe-Wanadoo?
The software itself installed and ran well, although I had to
deal with a couple of minor glitches. I did the full install on
my Windows XP laptop with only a 4 MB onboard video chip; at first
the game wouldn't run at all. But I looked at all of the shortcuts
put on the Start menu and saw one called "Configure Pharaoh's
Curse" that allowed me to switch to software rendering. After
that, I had a couple of hard crashes outside the game, and when
Windows restarted and did that disk-checking thing, it repaired
a couple of Pharaoh's Curse files. I don't know what was
changed or why, but both times the game, and the rest of my computer,
ran fine afterward.
Pharaoh's Curse is nothing more than another cookie-cutter
game to fill the Cryo vacuum. I could always go off on another
rant about how "the genre is ripe for innovation and so why
are we continually force-fed this kind of tripe," but I'll
let my rotten egg do my talking for me. There is nothing inherently
wrong with Pharaoh's Curse, it's just that it's all, and
I do mean all, been done before and I was bored the whole
time I was playing.
Release Date: October 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
PII 233 MHz (500 MHz recommended)
64 MB RAM
16X CD-ROM drive
DirectX compatible video card (16 MB 3D accelerated recommended)
DirectX compatible sound card
Where to Find It
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