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Matt Keller
28 Oct, 2007

Clive Barker's Jericho Review

PS3 Review | Genericho?
Clive Barker is no stranger to video games - his last title Clive Barker’s Undying, while a critical darling, was something of a failure at retail despite a big push from publisher Electronic Arts. With that sort of disappointment, you can't really blame the Hellbound Heart author for taking a bit of a respite from the world of gaming for the better part of a decade. Gaming has moved on a lot in that decade, but you wouldn’t know that if you picked up Barker’s latest gaming collaboration Clive Barker’s Jericho. One gets the feeling that the development team and Barker himself have been in some sort of creative stasis for ten years, as every facet of Jericho - characters, story, gameplay and design – makes it feel like they’ve ignored all recent progress in the first person shooter genre.

The basic story of Jericho is that the player controls a group of magically powered super soldiers called the Jericho, who essentially serve the role of protecting all of us innocent humans against nasty demons, John Howard’s eyebrows and all matter of creatures from a 1930’s Universal film marathon. Of course, in true video game fashion, the soldiers in the Jericho group essentially mirror the personalities of the colonial marines in Aliens – and since that film was released over twenty-two years ago, we have a hard time being amused or impressed. Anyway, the Jericho are summoned by their American military superiors (oh, did we mention that the Jericho ‘don’t exist’ as far as official military records are concerned? Blah, blah, snore) to visit this lost city that has appeared out of nowhere, and basically blast the stuffing out of any evil things that inhabit the place. And of course, there are plenty of those. Not really up to Barker’s usual standard now, is it – though this reviewer failed to think of anything decent the author has written in the last ten years.

That's not really appropriate demon fighting attire, young lady

That's not really appropriate demon fighting attire, young lady
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Players initially take control of Reed for the game’s rather insufferable first level, which is just by-the-number first person shooter action, albeit with severely limited interactivity with the game’s environments, unsatisfying weapons, and really unimpressive creature designs. Fortunately, Reed is quickly disposed of by Jericho’s main antagonist, but through the magic of screwy plot device, is kept alive after his spirit is sucked into one of the other Jericho. Basically, this means you can hop between the other soldiers in the Jericho squad willy-nilly; quite fortunate when one realizes that the game’s weapons are fixed to each character.

The Jericho squad is composed of two teams – Alpha and Omega, with three soldiers in each. Delgado is the heavy weapons guy, who just happens to have pyrokinetic powers – his mini-gun is by far the most powerful and most useful weapon in the game, making him a favourite for use on the battlefield. Cole is a ‘reality hacker’, meaning that she’s essentially like Neo within The Matrix – slowing down time, dodging bullets and such. She’s pretty useless when it comes to fighting, though her grenades do come in handy. Church is your modern Japanese samurai wannabe, with a big sword and sub-machine gun – and in totally emo style, she cuts her wrists to use her blood magic. Black is your typical tough female character – a total ripoff of Vasquez from Aliens – and her explosive rounds pack a real punch. Pity one doesn’t get too many opportunities to use that sniper rifle, though. Rawlings is a man of the cloth who likes two wield two weapons at the same time, as though doing so still makes one ‘bad’ – unfortunately not realising that we’ve seen this sort of behaviour in spades for – funnily enough – ten years. The final character, Jones, is basically a carbon copy of Reed from the first level.

I've always wanted a set of abdominal horns

I've always wanted a set of abdominal horns
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Squad mechanics are quite basic – switch between characters with the X button and assign orders with the D-Pad. Not that you ever really need to use any sort of tactics in the game – it’s a total no brain shooter. Early levels are almost tunnel like – complete linearity, and totally non-interactive environments just don’t cut the mustard these days. Sure, there are plenty of enemies to kill, but usually the game flow goes tunnel, gunfight with set number of bad guys, tunnel, conversation, gunfight and rinse and repeat. Combat as a whole feels totally unsatisfying and lacks the weight of stronger first person shooter engines on the market. Arguably the only really poor thing about Jericho’s gameplay is the squad AI – they’re not very effective in fighting against the game’s bestiary, and they seldom revive each other when one falls, leaving the player to pick up the pieces. It’s really quite annoying.

Jericho really suffers in the long term value stakes, with its main adventure only offering up about 10 hours worth of play at best. Players have absolutely no incentive to replay the game, unless doing so on a higher difficulty. There’s no multiplayer, no bonuses to unlock and no downloadable content on the way. It’s pretty tough to expect one to fork over the money for what’s essentially a onetime only experience.

Missing: Beloved pet "Voldo". Reward negotiable - contact Bandai-Namco

Missing: Beloved pet "Voldo". Reward negotiable - contact Bandai-Namco
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Developer Mercury Steam opted to develop its own engine for Jericho and their relative lack of experience with (and one would presume the difficulty of programming for) the PlayStation 3 hardware really shows. The character models are of a reasonably good quality, but the animation is below par and there is a distinct loss of visual fidelity on their finer details. Character design on the other hand is utterly generic – one would think that having Clive Barker on board would help things in this department, but it would appear he isn’t with it. Many monsters are very similar to enemies from Silent Hill or the flood from the Halo series. The environments are also mind numbingly dull – one would think the whole ancient civilisation thing would yield much more interesting locations, but the designers instead choose to send players back to various World Wars and such – The Darkness, anyone? Finally, the whole experience runs haphazardly, with Jericho’s frame rate constantly dipping below 30 frames per second. The game’s sound is also decidedly average – the soundtrack is insignificant and the gunplay is underwhelming at best. Fortunately, there are some good exchanges of banter between the squad, but not enough to make it a memorable experience.

To be perfectly frank, there’s nothing really technically wrong with the way Jericho plays – it’s not a bad game, it’s just totally underwhelming and almost outright boring to play. The plot feels rather cliché and fails to captivate its audience, the characters are generic and the gameplay behind it does little to inspire one to endure the entire experience. Perhaps with a more solid engine and some alterations to the plot and design of the game’s creatures, characters and levels, Jericho might have been a game worth playing. But with BioShock, Halo 3 and Half-Life 2: Orange Box on shelves, not even the most rabid first person shooter fan should have a reason to pick Jericho over one of those.
The Score
Jericho lacks any real defining features - it's just a mass of clichés, tried and true genre elements and technical issues. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Content

Updated European release list, 13/08/07
13 Aug, 2007 In two minds?
Barker comments on Jericho, games as art
27 Jun, 2007 Barker barking at Ebert.
10 Comments
6 years ago
wow, shame.

i was kinda looking forwards to this, because of the Clive Barker connection. i'll probably just rent it instead then.
6 years ago
I'm kinda glad because I was interested in playing this but have zero time and about a thousand unfinished games.
6 years ago
Very, very disappointing indeed. I've been watching this game for a while now. I will still give it a rent, and if ends up in the bargain bucket then it will probably warrant a purcahse from me.
6 years ago
Those quotes are a bit scary Matt icon_smile.gif Are you performing at the local stand-up comedy club icon_wink.gif

EDIT - yeah true that. Sorry Matt icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
^ It's Matt.
6 years ago
The demo wasn't all that bad. Infact i was actually considering picking this up around launch time. With a million other great games hitting shelves before the end of the year, this just won't cut it.
6 years ago
No supprise, wasnt impressed by the demo the slightest bit.
6 years ago
Yeah, I played the demo and didn't think much of it at all. Although one of my friends played it over and over again. I'll have to show him this review before he goes and buys it.
6 years ago
Man, it doesn't seem anything like the TV show...

But yeah, sounds pretty disappointing anyway.
6 years ago
doofus wrote
Man, it doesn't seem anything like the TV show...
that's because it's nothing to do with the TV Show.

or the Israeli city.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  8/11/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $119.95 AU
Publisher:
  Atari
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2007
Players:
  1

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