Review by Old
Adventures in Transition
Given increasing cross-system (PC, PS2, etc), as well as cross-genre
(adventure and action) development, it seems we'll be seeing more,
not less, of the arrow-directed, console-type controls evident in
In Cold Blood. I much prefer the cursor and first-person
perspective found in Dracula
Resurrection and Dracula Last Sanctuary. Of course,
I'm really waiting for adventure titles to lay some claim to the
kind of engine found in No One Lives Forever, but that may
be expecting a bit much. As long as it's "consoles first, PC
second," it looks like we'll have minimal mousing and be stuck
with awkward control schemes.
Comes the Revolution
One of our favorite developers, Revolution Software, of Broken
Sword fame, has put its hand to an adult, dark, even
grim tale of a captured British spy caught up in a modern-day tale
of intrigue, espionage, and double-dealing.
Over the course of nine retrospective episodes, you play the role
of John Cord, upper-crust English agent, who tries to remember who
betrayed him and why. Increasingly, a plot unravels filled with
twists, surprises, betrayals, and challenges. Comparisons may be
drawn to James Bond, but I think more of Smiley's people, of LeCarre
fame. There are no fancy cars or fat chicks, and few gadgets or
weapons to employ. Rather, Cord must rely on observation, stealth,
some conversations, and deductive problem-solving in his quest to
unravel murky memories.
Revolution titles typically exhibit several hallmarks or distinctive
qualities of production and play. In Cold Blood reflects
two of these, with a very well-crafted and suspenseful story, as
well as beautiful art and settings. Letting us down is character
movement and positioning carried over from the dreaded "Playstation-port
How Is the Game Set up and Managed?
We are presented with three CDs, with the game installing smoothly
and using only about 200 MB of hard drive space. Minimal swapping
is required, loading times are reasonable, and the save/load (anywhere!)
menu works quickly and well. There are no video settings available,
with 640x480 being the only graphics option. One can choose to play
with the keyboard or a gamepad, with some reconfiguration allowed,
but there's no place at all for the mouse in the game. At times
the character control scheme can range from frustrating to dangerous!
You may be given only so many seconds to sneak up on a guard, and
you need to get there in the most straightforward fashion, not the
herky-jerky ambulation often experienced with these controls. The
occasional gun fight can become a literal hit-and-miss proposition,
with aiming and accuracy being very chancy.
If you've played Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare and
similar games, camera positioning should not be a problem for you.
There's a total view of the area in which you find yourself, and
you're rarely left hung out to dry by enemies approaching you can't
see. Ala Grim
Fandango, Cord's head will turn toward an object
or character with which he may interact.
How Does it Look and Sound?
As indicated, 640x480 works with this title, and works quite well,
helping the dark settings to set a mood fitting to the story. The
characters are somewhat blocky, but we're more forgiving of that
than others in this community. The world is credible, and that's
all you can really ask.
Voice acting is a bit hammy but fits in the context satisfactorily.
Ambient sounds, especially Cord's footsteps, are very well integrated,
adding to the build-up of tension. Music is only played during dramatic
moments, with the overall quiet also increasing the atmosphere.
How Does the Game Play?
Being careful not to give much away, let me say that In Cold
Blood is a long (40+ hours) and sometimes laborious game, but
it also has that elusive quality of having you want to turn "one
more page." The narrative is the key to this game, with puzzles
of secondary importance. These challenges are woven very tightly
into the fabric of gameplay. A missed and required conversation
or a "hot spot" not investigated will lead to a door that
won't open or a new level that won't begin.
"Use Your Brain, English" Gregor, a Helper
As with most adventure titles, the environment needs to be explored
in detail, looking for significant NPCs and objects. Watch out!for
the door you open, or corner you turn while wandering, sometimes
reveals guards who are inclined to shoot first and ask questions
later. You'll become all too familiar with the "red screen
of death," accompanied by dramatic music and pithy comments
from Cord: "No, it couldn't have happened that way!"
There are over 100 rather "factory-like" settings to
explore, including a refinery, mine, land train, and even a submarine.
Through stealth, a bit of killing, and the use of your Remora, the
story moves along. Remora? Ah, yes, your Remoraa neat little
wrist device allowing access to enemy computers as well as updating
We find some humor to relax the tension and, unfortunately, some
occasional illogic. How can Cord get away with his proper English
accent in this facility on the Russo/Chinese bordereven to
the point of discussing soccer scores with the guards? Perhaps we
are to imply he is fluent in the local dialect. Further, there's
an inconsistency to actions of the guards, ranging from being trigger-happy
to virtually ignoring a comrade you've dealt with a few feet away.
Is the Game Fun and Recommended?
In Cold Blood is a fine game for the adult adventurer who
enjoys dark spy novels and also is willing to tolerate a bit of
"consolitis" in her/his gaming experience. The narrative
is compelling, puzzles make sense within the context of the story,
graphics and acting are more than adequate. The game is hard, frustrating
at times, and perhaps too long, having a tendency to drag. It's
Journey, or even Circle of Blood, but it is
unusual enough and sufficiently entertaining to warrant a solid
"thumb up" from this sometimes jaded Rooster.
What I Liked the Most
The storyline is interesting and solid; game world presentation
is invitingly done; the acting is more than satisfactory.
What I Liked the Least
Controls can be awkward and frustrating; there are logic inconsistencies;
the game can be long and tedious.
Release Date: March 2001
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium II, 233 MHz
32 MB RAM
200 MB free hard disk space
Where to Find It
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).