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Chris Sell
05 Oct, 2005

Fahrenheit Review

Xbox Review | Known also as Indigo Prophecy, we take a look at Quantic Dream's latest adventure.
Every once in a while, a game comes along that surprises you. Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy as it’s known stateside, is one of these said games. Before playing it for myself, I had read of comparisons to Shenmue, but in all honesty it’s very little like it at all. But you see, here lies the problem of describing what Fahrenheit is. From almost out of nowhere, we have something that’s quite unlike anything before it, something unique and more importantly, something that just oozes quality from the very start.

Fahrenheit’s story is what the game is all about, which is made obvious straight away by the movie set-like presentation of the menus and opening intro. Even playing the game is referred to as ‘taking part in the film’. The opening scene starts with a middle-aged man peacefully relieving himself in a public toilet, when all of a sudden a man appears from out of one of the toilet cubicles and stabs him to death. This man is Lucas Kane, he has no idea why he has just killed someone, and it’s from this point that you have to take control of him. So, you’ve just murdered someone, it’s in a public place, you’ve got blood on your hands, even more all over the floor, the murder weapon is still in your grasp and your head is a mess – what do you do?

The first and foremost thing you have to take into consideration is your mental state. Displayed by a human shaped icon in the corner of the screen, this shows what kind of condition your mind is in. Every action in the game that you take has a positive or a negative influence on your own wellbeing, and an effect on what will happen. Should you just run out of the toilet with a knife in your hand you’ll never even make it out of the front door without being sussed by a policeman or cracking up with sheer guilt. However, if you take the time to hide the weapon, clean the blood and wash your hands, you stand to have a better chance of making a getaway. There’s a multitude of different ways of things to do or not to do, again all of which produce different results. On my first play through I managed to run out, but not before raising a small degree of suspicion. Could I have got out of there cleanly? What if I just sat back down at the table and acted normally? I noticed that there was a phone in the corner, could I have called someone to help calm me down, or would that have just got me into more of a state? These are all rarely questions you would ask when playing a game. But then, Fahrenheit is not really a game, it has more in common with a movie.

What have I done?!

What have I done?!
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The whole movie feel is extended further when you switch to another character, Carla Valenti. As a cop for the NYPD it is then your job to investigate the murder. She is accompanied by her partner, Tyler Miles, again who is controllable and has his own thoughts and even side stories of his life outside of work. But hold on, haven’t you just tried to get away with the murder? Why would you want the police to find out that you did it? Again, Fahrenheit isn’t your traditional game. As if you were watching a movie, the idea is to find out why the murder happened, not to simply get the culprit locked up in the opening 15 minutes. To reveal any more than I have would only spoil things for the player, so my lips are now sealed.

One thing that Fahrenheit does share with Shenmue is the way it has moved the Adventure genre forward and also in a different direction to all that came before it. Since SEGA’s classic some 5 years ago now, few games have really matched its cinematic style of mixing gameplay with story telling cutscenes, Fahrenheit however handles it perfectly. Using similar style ‘Quick Time Events’ (or QTE’s for short) you control the cutscenes with sequences of joypad commands. Using both analogue sticks you must push them in the matching directions shown on screen via 2 coloured circles. These are used to not only control cutscenes, but to also battle, compete in events and even play the guitar. As well as these there are some frantic trigger bashing moments in there too for the more intense situations. Speaking to characters is also dealt in an equally prompt way with a timer always present to keep you on your toes. Not only does it stop you dallying needlessly on answers, it keeps the game flowing as if it were a real conversation, thus increasing your immersion into the game. You can begin the game with a tutorial, which I recommend so you can get to grips with things from the start.

The cutscene presentation itself is equally as unique at the rest of the game. Using multiple windows you’ll see a variety of angles and perspectives from different people and in several areas, these really help clearly show the player what is happening, like for example, showing a phone ringing in the corner of the screen to indicate you have a call to answer. You’ll also get these windowed in timed events. For instance, in the opening toilet scene there is a Policeman nearby whom, if you spend a long time in the toilet, makes his way there himself. Here the screen will split in to windows showing the Policeman slowly making his way towards you, all the time you can still control Lucas on the opposite window. It works brilliantly throughout the game and really gives the game its on unique cinematic feel.

Just one of Fahrenheit’s many beautiful multi-windowed cutscenes

Just one of Fahrenheit’s many beautiful multi-windowed cutscenes
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Graphically, Fahrenheit is a strange one. While it’s not technically a great looking game, it somehow manages too look superb at times. The character models are well made and decently animated, while the actual game world is assertively believable which helps things no end. The fact that a lot of the environments boast a large amount of interactivity scores some bonus points too with cupboards to open, TV’s to watch, CD players to listen to and even daily emails to check- it all adds to the believability of the Fahrenheit world. As does the music which is one of the best original soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. Beautifully atmospheric and emotional at all the right times, it actually reaches its goal in achieving movie-like quality at times. The voice acting is also impressive boasting a lineup of top quality actors with grade-A dialog to match that rarely sounds silly or out of place.

Complaints I have in a game that’s so engrossing can, for the most part, be overlooked. Firstly, the controls can be awkward at times, with multiple fixed camera angles it’s sometimes hard to avoid running into walls, especially considering much of the game takes place in small rooms. But the delightful way that interaction is dealt with by simply using the right analogue stick to push and pull switches, door handles, etc makes up for any other misgivings, particularly as it eliminates the mundane button pressing that other games have as standard. Another grievance I have is with some of the cutscenes, particularly the fighting ones where two people could be hitting each other but it doesn’t really look that convincing. I don’t know whether it’s the lack of a meaty punching sound effect, or whether there is just not enough of a connection with each blow, but it just doesn’t feel like they’re hitting each other at times. But then again, the inventive choreography used throughout the game is immensely entertaining meaning you can forgive such minor quibbles.

Apart from a few minor niggles about parts of the story being a bit rushed and some unexciting (but thankfully short) ‘stealth’ sections; my final grumble would be of the games length. At around 7-8hrs it falls a little short of what many would hope. But again, you can forgive it as you can’t possibly see everything first time through, or maybe even second time such are the amount of different outcomes that stem from certain decisions. Plus, with 3 different endings and a wealth of unlockable videos and features you get a little bit more for your money than you would originally realize. The most significant thing about Fahrenheit is that any gameplay issue are secondary to the overall experience of the game. Like any great film, its story is grips you and you won’t rest until you’ve seen it through to the end. In summary, Fahrenheit is one of the most beautiful, immersive and artistic games you could ever wish for. There’s no reason in the world why any self-respecting gamer wouldn’t want to have this game in their collection.
The Score
One of the most unique adventure games in years. Gripping stuff from start to finish, don’t miss out.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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5 Comments
8 years ago
I guess that makes me a self respecting gamer. Woo hoo!

Great review! I pretty much agreed with everything that was said. Now excuse me while I start playing Fahrenheit again...
8 years ago
3 different endings eh? Now I wasn't aware of that and that makes me think once more. See I made the decision to hold off replaying this game for a few months and to return to it like you would a favourite movie, but after finding out about these other endings, I'm not so sure. Just how different are they, without giving it away? (if you know, that is)

Still, I agree with the review and it does sum the 'game' down to a tee. I reckon it deserves a 9.0 though, but that's just me. icon_smile.gif
8 years ago
The endings are fairly different, you could probably work out what they are if you think about what happens in the last 1/4 of the game. Also, don't forget that you can play individual chapters, you won't NEED to go through the whole game again just to see them.

As far as the score goes, my heart told me 9, my head told me 8, so I just went in between.
8 years ago
I know what you mean. The game reminded me of SOS survivor because although there were some quite obvious flaws the whole game is greater than that.

I only hope that QD link this into some top authors and get more games that actually feel like literature. I will buy the first next gen console to do the above with Micheal Crichton as the author of the openended story. In a heartbeat.

After tinkering with the various endings (I think there are 6 ways of getting to the 3 endings actually if memory serves correctly) I'll play my favourite bits again then trade it in.
8 years ago
That is something I can't comprehend actually. Why the hell would someone want to trade the game in? Fair enough if they dislike it or can't understand the games intention, but trading it in after playing the bazookas out of it seems ridiculous to me. But anyway.

As for the endings, well yes I did consider the chapter thing (and I understand exactly what you mean with the last few chapters of the game and their various decisions) but as I said I would much rather come back to this game like I would a favourite movie. It's just that type of experience that should be revisited over and over again, but in moderation.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Atari
Developer:
  Quantic Dream
Players:
  1

Extra:
Widescreen support
5.1 DD

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