Hektic's Bargain Bin Review: Clive Barker's Jericho
First off, Jericho has a pretty entertaining story. You play as any one of seven (six) members of Jericho Squad; a team of individuals each with their own special powers and weapon proficiencies. The team is sent to investigate an anomaly in time-space at a remote desert location in the present day. What they find is that the anomaly is a breach in reality in which an evil, god-like entity, known as the "Firstborn", is trying to break out of an astral prison and enter our world in order to wreak havoc and destruction. Going through different breaches, Jericho is brought to several different, Hellish periods in the world's history, each with its own set of dangers, traps, puzzles and enemies. Another day at the office, right? That is until the leader of Jericho Squad and main character, Commander Ross, is
Players control the spirit of Ross; dieing does not "have the same rules" in the breach as it does in the 'normal' world, and while Ross has no corporeal body, he has the ability to possess any one of the six remaining members of Jericho Squad: Able to use their powers, weapons, and control their body while their subconscious "takes a backseat". This possession interface is a unique feature, if it were fully realized. Players will soon find that it is unnecessary to switch from one or two characters, except for the short moments when the game forces you to. This could also make for some interesting and elaborate puzzles, right? Wrong: In the few events where a character is needed in order to continue, the game says it right across the screen "Switch to 'Character'". If you are already in control of that character, then the game even goes so far as to say "Use 'this power'". I was looking forward to a few intricate puzzles, but what I did find was myself feeling like the game thought I was stupid. I mean, there is a ton of loose rocks here, what should I do? Oh, that's right: Use the only character with a power to push objects. Thanks for the tip...
Another thing I noticed fairly quickly was that, aside from being rather short, the levels were painfully linear. There are no hidden items to collect, power-ups to be found, or even any hidden paths to explore. Each levels seems to consist of hallway, stairs, round room, hallway, stairs, round room. There is also an under-used command feature which allows you to tell the rest of the team to either stay back, move 'here', or follow. The Jericho team is split into two squads; Alpha and Omega, and the game lets you either control both in unison, or one or the other to move, stay, or follow you. The downside to this aspect: Enemies run directly at whatever is in front of them. You will find yourself doing all this hard work to move around in a tactful manner, only to find that the enemies charge right at you.
Of course, your team's AI is no better; there is a particular enemy you will see a lot of that blows up when killed. Instead of staying back and firing at it, your team likes to run right up to it and shoot it, thereby getting killed (or 'downed', as Gears would say) in the process. They also like to use their special powers for no real reason; many times one weak enemy was charging at me only to find that three of my teammates used their powers and over-killed it.
On the positive side, the graphics are nice, giving the game a grotesque, visceral feel. Moving through the macabre environments, seeing masses of flesh hung to the wall by nails just gives the game that Clive Barker-feel. There is nothing like moving through a river of blood and refuse during a hellish-rendition of World War II, or squaring off against Crusaders that have nailed armor directly into their own flesh. Not for the squeamish, I have yet to find a game that can match the pure gruesomeness of Jericho. The soundtrack also complemented the graphics; the voice-acting was decent, and Ross was actually voiced by the same actor that played Spike in Cowboy Bebop, for you anime fans. What really got me wasn't the voice acting, but the ghoulish sound effects and eerie soundtrack.
Unfortunately, Jericho has no multiplayer. Now, I am in no way a fan of developers throwing in a multiplayer feature just for the sake of having multiplayer, but it seems that if Jericho's Devs would have spent some real time on it and refined it, using special abilities and such could have made for some epic Shadowrun-type multiplayer battles. Alas, we will never see it. Of course, no multiplayer also means no annoying multiplayer achievements, which brings me to my next topic...
Achievements! This is a great waffle game, especially when you find that enabling cheats do not disable achievements. Most of the achievements are for beating levels on hard, some for beating the level on hard without dieing, and a few for getting 50, 100, and then 250 kills with melee, explosive, and Ghost-Bullet kills respectively. These will take a little time, but not too lengthy, especially if you know to use these abilities ahead of time. No level is overly hard, and I do not think I ever saw the game-over screen once in my entire play through. If you miss a level or need more kills, the game allows you to go back and reply levels you have already completed. Many will be able to get the full 1000 gamerpoints in a few hours: Altogether, on hard, the campaign took me about ten hours, and maybe one more to get the rest of the kill achievements.
Clive Barker's Jericho can be found used at Gamestop for under thirty dollars, or found at Best Buy on clearance for as low as fifteen. In no way a bad game; Jericho stuck to basic FPS fundamentals, with the possession and special abilities thrown in to keep things fresh, had a cool storyline and some great visuals. However, the game was relatively short, featured no multiplayer, and offers almost no replay value. Had a lot of time been spent to rework a few things here and there, we may all have been playing Clive Barker's Jericho to this day. But, that is not the case; good for a quick gamerscore boost or something to play late at night with the lights out, you will find yourself getting bored of Jericho fairly quickly. However, it will end soon after that....