Journey to the Center of the Earth review by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
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Journey to the Center of the Earth
Summary * History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters
Enter the world beneath. Join Ariane, a determined young journalist, who falls into the scoop of a lifetime when she discovers an unknown world far below the Earth's surface. Explore primitive landscapes brimming with strange beasts and encounter fascinating civilizations that inhabit this foriegn land. The choices Ariane makes will determine the future of this forgotten and primitive world. Will she help save these strange beings and their home - already in peril - or launch her career by exposing their story and threatening their very existance? Cross the threshold into the unknown for an unparalleled adventure, and come face to face with the land at the center of the earth.
Ariane, a travel photographer, is on assisnment to capture the rugged beauty of Iceland's uninhabited landscape. Ariane's pilot skillfully lands the helicopter in the crater of an old volcano. No sooner has the small craft set down, when a rockslde violently crashes down. Ariane is thrown to safety, but her pilot and helicopter are lost. She sets off to find help when suddenly the earth beneath her feet opens up . . .
How far would you go? For the scoop of a lifetime, a discovery of such enormous magnitude, one that would bring you fame, fortune and a fabulous career? It is up to you to decide. Your journey to the center of the earth with Ariane, an ambitious photojournalist, will take you to a lost world where two civilizations struggle for survival. You will travel through primitive savannas, discover secret jungles, and explore caves of crystal. Find clues and solve challenging puzzles as you experience lush environments, each more breathtaking than the next.
But this incredibly beautiful universe hides a terrible secret . . .
The future of this world is in jeopardy. Ariane, now involved, finds that she's already in way over her head. What choices will she have to make? Will she be able to leave? How will she find her way back to the surface? Will she reveal the existence of this world to ours and risk of its destruction?
Right off the bat, the interface is very unique. You find yourself looking at a Jules Verne type command center within the space capsule going to the moon or some other early 19th century contraption. The red chair starts a new game. The control panel with the lever loads the game in progress. The weaird machine with a valve controled by a wheel takes you to the options for sound and graphics. The television set is the load or save game module. The photocamera gives you the credits. The door to the outside quits the game.
This utilities interface is refreshing. When you hover over the illustration within the new desktop, the graphic icons that are imbedded into the structure of the background give you a description of the function of the icon. While not a totally new concept in how the interface works, the beauty of its construction shows artistic temperment not satisfied with the normal desktop or game interfaces, but intelligent enough to retain all the functionality of those platforms.
Another nice feature is that the double click convention of making your character run is used in the interface. Simply double click on where you want to go and your character runs there. A better option is imployed in the Spanish game Runaway: A Road Adventure where double clicking instanly travels your character to the next screen. Many games also have an option to put run or walk on as a default with double clicking changing from one to another.
Auto travel options are a necessity in adventure games, since the game has you running back and forth from one place to another over and over again. The abilty to travel instantly saves a lot of game time and avoids the boredom of repeatedly doing something over and over again. (Deja vous all over again as Yogi Berra once said.) Avoiding boredom in the game with these features is a must.
The monorail in the town is a form of autotravel. The monorail is a very nice way of getting from place to place without walking. The autotravel concept needs to have the map accessable from any point, not just the monorail stations.
Like many European graphic animated adventures, Journey to the Center of the Earth will not allow you to do certain things out of a very linear order. If you try to get the bellows from the crystal cave to fix the horn to call the terridactyl before you get the splint for the injured soldier in the early game, you cannot do it. This type of linearity is mostly a bad thing in an adventure. For example, this one thing may cause you to run back and forth from the mushroom to the crystal cave with no idea when you can finish fixing the horn.
The cursor in the game adds feet to itself when there is another area to walk to. I believe my walkto cursor hot spots were bugged in some areas of the game, because even though the feet were there Ariane was unable to walk to these locations without completing some part of the plot or moving into the scene in another location.
The female protagonist, Ariane, falls down into the center of the earth from where she is working in Iceland.
Most designers and artists love to show you the beauty of their work. The average television audience wants to see the action. This game has a wonderful artistic prowess that shows off the hardware that you payed so much for.
I am sure the artists in the game would love for us to point out how smooth and lifelike Ariane is when moving from one location to another. The inventors of Tomb Raider were right when they said that us hairy male game players would rather look at a pretty female heroine who is well endowed than some unshaven male hero in dirty clothes with a moth eaten hat and a worn-out bull whip.
By the way the beauty and pleasure of watching the female form move was not first discovered by the designers of Tomb Raider. Most of us are a bit amazed that it took the video game industry such a long time to realize this fact. To quote my wife on this subject, "well, duh."
Many would love to point out that Tomb Raider was not the first game to use a beautiful heroine over a buff hero. At this point I forget what game used the beautiful heroine first. Write to me and let me know what you believe was the first game to use this device at Al Giovetti's mailbox.
On some levels the translation and localization of the game has failed. For example, at the beginning of the game when the helicopter crashes and you click on the door to open it, Ariane says, "the door is closed." It would have been better if Ariane said, "the door is jammed shut and will not open." Later in theAskiam Communications Center a door is locked and when Ariane tries to open it she says, "the door is closed." Again the wrong usage of English. The message should be, "The door is locked." At this point in the game you want to convey that you cannot open the door only with your hands, but that you may need an impliment to pry open the door or a key to unlock it.
These problems with localization could have been avoided by using beta testers in the United States and in England. This testing would make sure the versions of the script relayed the correct information in the correct locations. Beta testers are not prohibitively expensive. The audio on the version I played was bugged. The audio cut off the first few words in each sentance. The subtitles helped you follow the flawed audio, and the game was not impared by it.
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