Review by Orb
The Messenger takes its player through centuries of history
and tradition in the Louvre, the august eight-century-old building
in Paris, once the host to heads of French state and now housing
one of the greatest art collections on earth. One of the highlights
of this game is that the player explores the building in different
time periods, getting to enjoy the feel of how it has been used
historically, how the architecture has changed and been added
to, and how people of these times looked and interacted with the
environment. From this viewpoint, playing The Messenger is
a rich historical experience as well as a game.
This is an aspect in which this game truly shines. The building
itself has been carefully reconstructed using plans and historical
documents, and the attention to detail shows. This unto itself
makes it fun to explore the Louvre, and it reminds me of some
other games that have lovingly recreated historical sites, such
as Titanic and The Legend of Lotus Spring.
The story of The Messenger is actually quite minimal.
You play as Secret Service Agent Morgan Sinclair, ordered to infiltrate
the Louvre and recover four artifacts known as "Satan's Keys"
in five time periods. These keys, when brought together and joined,
will bring about Armageddon. It is the dying wish of Morgan's
father that she halt this.
The graphics are well-done. Environments are richly detailed,
well-designed, and completely appropriate for each time period
the game moves through. Some of the rooms seemed rather empty,
however, with only one or two pieces of furniture and the walls
to explore. This may or may not be an accurate representation
of how the Louvre has been maintained over the years, but it definitely
lessened what there was to explore. There are really nice transitional
animations that give the game a further lush look.
Characters are cleverly designed, and they really keep the whole
look and feel of each time period fresh and very realistic.
Now to some of the more problematic aspects of this title. The
game is designed in such a way that saving becomes like a compulsory
itchthe player can accidentally surprise guards and die,
and there is absolutely no way to anticipate when this is going
to happen. Yuck.
Another weakness with the design is that the inventory system
is just way too complex and not at all intuitive. There's just
a lot of "figuring out" to do. For some explicable reason,
the inventory was designed to only hold a limited number of items,
and the others that are given to the character at the opening
or found during gameplay are stored in a chest. The chest appears
in various rooms throughout the gameplay, and all items can be
stored in any chest anywhere to be accessed from any chest anywherehighly
unrealistic. There is a mapping system that will take the player
to any area already explored during gameplay, normally a wonderful
thing, but because of the onerous task of loading and unloading
and rearranging inventory, even this task becomes practically
as arduous as having to walk back and forth from locations to
the closest trunks. Traitor's Gate, which this game most
resembles, does the big inventory system of tools mixed with things
found much more smoothly.
All of the puzzles are inventory-based, and so this necessitates
a lot of this "inventory shuffle," especially since
you are given tools to get in and around and through things, such
as a flashlight and knife and gas mask. But you also have a whole
separate set of items that must be combined and used in each time
period to solve puzzles that have to do specifically with that
portion of the game.
The endgame sequence is pretty short and sweet. This is not really
surprising, as the character you have been playing is minimally
defined and spends the majority of the game acting as a Sigourney
Weaver/Lara Croft superhero, rather than an in-depth character
study. However, the extreme brevity of the endgame may be surprising
and disappointing to some.
The soundtrack accompanies the environment nicely. It runs in
short loops but does not get overly redundant. The soundtrack
does not play throughout the game; instead, there are periods
where the player enjoys the ambient sounds of the environment
of the Louvre and the people in the structure.
At one point about three-quarters of the way through the game,
it dumped me out inexplicably, which of course heightened the
compulsive save twitch just that much more. This did happen only
once. Other than that, there were no bugs or problemsit
installed smoothly and ran without a hitch.
The Messenger is not a bad game, it's just that there
are design elements that make sections of gameplay laborious rather
than fun. And with that in mind, there are quite a few more recent
releases worth the time spent, such as Dracula Resurrection,
from the same developer and publisher, as well as games that
are similar in nature that have some elements most frustrating
here worked out better, such as Traitor's Gate.
Release Date: 2001
Four Fat Chicks Links
G3 or iMac
32 MB RAM (64 MB RAM from Virtual Memory)
(64 MB RAM recommended)
6 MB 3D video card, Open GL compatible
8X CD-ROM drive
Pentium 166 MHz (200 MHz recommended)
16 MB RAM (32 MB recommended)
4X CD-ROM (8X recommended)
Where to Find It
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