We’re still at the Codemasters event in the Cabinet War Rooms in London, UK. This time we have some hands-on time with Codemasters terrifyingly beautiful title – Clive Barkers Jericho.
We all sat down in an underground bunker where Winston Churchill ran the war during 1939-1945 to receive a background story on Jericho. You’re in-charge of a seven man Jericho exploration team sent to the Middle Eastern City of Al-Khali, a city built upon ancient burial sites. But something lurks around every corner and in underground pot holes (hey hang on, we’re underground, someone put the bloody lights on!).
Normally when books, movies and so forth are transformed in to a video game, the author sells his rights and any influence he may of had away to a development studio which will bring that title to life. This is not the case with Clive Barker’s – Jericho. Barker has written more than twenty best-selling books including ‘The Books of Blood, Imajica and Weaveworld, and also the creator of a little movie known as ‘Hellrasier’. The look and feel of Jericho really does reek of Clive Barker’s twisted, yet creatively fascinating mind.
In the game you are part of ‘The Department of Occult Warfare’ (D.O.W), a United States government operation that monitors and investigates supernatural events. During World War 2, Nazi Germany was suspected to be developing supernatural weapons, and the D.O.W was formed to investigate and put a stop to anyone utilizing the dark arts. It wasn’t long before the D.O.W found that Hitler wasn’t just trying to create such weapons, but was actually doing so by any means necessary. So when an unusual sandstorm hits the city of Al-Khali and all communication breaks down between the Department and the citizens, they have no choice but to send in you and your highly-trained team.
You assume the role of Captain Devon Ross and his squad which consists of:
- Father Paul Rawlings – The dual-pistol-wielding priest and exorcist.
- Lt. Abigail Black – A telekinetic sniper who controls bullets in mid flight.
- Captain. Xavier Jones – A seer who uses astral projection for reconnaissance.
- Captain. Simone Cole – The Jericho Squad’s reality hacker that can alter time and teleport supplies and personnel.
- Sergeant. Billie Church – A blood mage that uses her own blood to cast spells.
- Sergeant. Frank Delgado – A fine-demon-wielding alchemist and pyromancer.
Once you arrive at the ancient city, your team comes across a “breach”, (a portal that can teleport you to another time) when your team becomes surrounded by supernatural beings. Squad Leader Devon Ross falls to his demise, and his team members, who are unprepared, outnumbered and out-gunned fall back through the Breach.
This isn’t all doom and gloom though. When you arrive through the other side of the breach back in WW2 you’ll find that your apparently dead Squad Leader still lives on in spiritual form. Ross will now be able to control each member of the Jericho team and use their powers to your advantage.
The breach plays a big part in Clive Barker’s: Jericho, transporting back and fourth through time to:
- Modern Al-Khali
- World War 2
- The Crusades
- The Romans
- And 4th Millennium BC
The D.O.W believes that these unusual sandstorms have been created by a former D.O.W employee turned mercenary – Arnold Leach, who leads an evil cult ‘The Brotherhood of the Dark Rapture’.
The gameplay in Clive Barker’s: Jericho is a fast-paced, heart pumping, high adrenaline roller coaster ride that takes us in to the dark shadows of the imagination of Clive Barker. While I had the opportunity to play this on both Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, I came to the conclusion that in my opinion Jericho plays better on the Xbox 360’s controller, which seems to be better designed for first-person shooters.
You’ll be able to dual wield weapons, allowing you some interesting combinations. One character had a pistol in her right hand and sword in her left. While this does sound cool, the sword slices go in slow-motion as you move normally in the world, so enemies are going to go off screen when you attack. This might be due to the game being an early build, and hopefully it will be fixed by the time the game hits store shelves.
The switching between characters to get past certain obstacles works surprisingly well. To change to a different character, you point your weapon at them and press the A button immediately, and your spiritual form will then take control of that player’s mind and abilities. However, figuring out which character is best equipped for each situation is something that you will learn as you play through the game.
Certain points in the game will force you to go it alone, which is quiet daunting considering you have been so used to having an elite tactical team backing you up. These sequences when you’re alone, though challenging, definitely generate anxiety and panic, which undeniably adds emotional depth to the game.
The demonic forces all have vulnerable spots which you’ll have to take full advantage of. You can simply shoot at them to get them to open up their weak spot, switch between characters to get behind them, due to the fact that many of the enemy characters vulnerabilities are located on different parts of their bodies. I came across one character that actually opens his belly up and squirts a huge amount of toxic blood at you. The developers behind Jericho are definitely going for the shock factor. At one point the host even jokingly said ‘Rated T for Teen’, but personally I had no problem with it, in fact I loved it.
Sound, as we are all fully aware, plays a major role in generating atmosphere and mood in any game. Thus, in the horror genre it is essential that the sound effects become a character in their own right. In Clive Barker’s: Jericho, the sound effects do indeed play a major role to enhance the game play significantly, so you won’t have to worry about this title’s music being a disappointment.
I have to say I was very impressed with the depth and richness of the graphics. In the dark, cold and claustrophobic caves, you can almost feel the dampness and taste the stale air. Clive and the team have obviously spent a great deal of time and effort to achieve this almost photo-graphic realism.
Unfortunately, the guys at Codemasters confirmed that the game will not include any Xbox Live Multi-player game modes, which is a real shame considering it would have been awesome to have co-op and team deathmatch. I did ask if this would become available via downloadable content but they were uncertain.
The amount of effort and enthusiasm that the Codemasters team has obviously injected in to this game has me excited about the potential of this title. I hope that all of the promise that I witnessed in this early build is fully realized when the game officially launches this September on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We’ll keep you posted here at Console Monster about Jericho in the coming months.