Urban Runner
Review by Al Giovetti
Price: $50
Genre: full motion video graphics adventure
Release: September, 1996
Publisher: Sierra Online
Phone: 800-757-7707
Website: www.sierra.com
Requirements: 486, 66 MHz, Windows 3.1 or 95, 4X CD-ROM, 8 MB RAM

History: Over the years Sierra online moved into the area of animated graphic adventures. The first games by Roberta Williams were programmed with simple stick graphics on a black background. Eventually, Sierra became the standard that all other graphic animated adventure games were measured against, and to this day still is only challenged occasionally by the likes of Lucas Arts and a few others. Later Sierra was one of the first to experiment with cinematic adventures, games filmed like a traditional film but pieced together as a graphic animated adventure.

Plot: You are an American living in Paris, but this should not be confused with other Christmas releases starting in the same way, like the exceptional Circle of Blood (Broken Sword in Europe). You are performing an investigation into corruption. You find an informant dead in a sauna and instead of immediately reporting it, you don his clothes and run into the basement of an adjacent building pursued by a gunman who could not hit the side of a barn.

Eventually you are running from both the murderers of a law enforcement officer who think you saw the murder and can testify, and the cops who think you did it.

Puzzles and interface: The puzzles are of the treasure hunt type. You find the object and use it on something in the background area of the game. Puzzles are somewhat illogical in that people you incapacitate and frisk no longer have the items they had prior to their incapacitation, while other characters in the game seem to have their items. A gun disappears from a gunman but miraculously appears on a tattoo artist.

Graphics and Animation: The graphics and animation of the game was produced by filming French actors on blue or green screen and rendering sets and objects or simply using set backgrounds that were made interactive.

Voice actors: Since the actors shot on film are French and the producers did not want to dub them, you will never see or hear the video actors talk and you will never see the voice actors act.

Music score: Huh?

Sound effects: There are all the gunshots you could want since many of the actors love to shoot hundreds of times. Other guttural sounds abound as do the normal creaks and foot falls.


Multi-player: This is a single player game

Hints: The game hint feature is the lame type that only gives you three hints and then shuts down. If you really want to have an interactive hint feature, you need all the hints and a point system that keeps track of the ones you use with negative points and the puzzles you solve yourself with positive points. Sierra invented this system, so it is amazing to me that they do not use it. To defeat the system, save before getting a hint, get the hint and write it down, and restore before the hint was given.

Reviewers: According to veteran reviewer Zach Meston, this game is a real bust.

Zach Meston, Computer Player, volume 3, number 7, December, 1996, pg. 81, (40%).