June 28, 2004
Fahrenheit (Not 9/11)
I’ll spare you my review of Michael Moore’s crockumentary. Suffice it to say I mostly agree with Chris Hitchens. (I know, I know. I just washed my mouth out with soap.)
I am currently crossing my fingers for the dim, but newly existent, chance that someone has answered my prayers for a good adventure game for the Playstation 2.
Fahrenheit debuted at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, and according to scattered accounts, it completely knocks sliced bread off the map. It’s got a decent basic storyline — complete strangers in New York are killing each other at random, each enacting the same bizarre ritual before committing the murder — which you can actually affect depending on your actions in the game. (It starts, by the way, after you’ve just committed one of these random murders.)
And by affect, it apparently doesn’t just mean that you get the Murasame sword with seven jewels of power instead of five if you beat the silver-tongued Gorgon using only copper weapons. It seems there are serious game-shattering consequences for your actions. For instance, you could do one thing and play the game for four hours only to discover that the thing you did four hours ago completely screwed you, and now you’ve lost. Which has the possibility to be very frustrating, but if the game is dynamic enough to keep you playing, then it could also be very, very cool. From the review I linked above:
There is no inventory in the game, which is intended to add an element of realism. You’ll only have whatever you have in your hand. So, pick up the bloody white shirt. Now you’re holding a bloody shirt; what are you going to do with it? You can’t do much else; you’ve got to deal with this darn shirt in your hands first. If there’s one ridiculous thing we just accept about adventure games (other than it should always be impossible to die), it’s that there’s always room in our pockets for more inventory; whatever size, whatever shape. Fahrenheit confronts that un-reality head-on.
At some point, you will either decide to leave your apartment, or your time will run out and the police will arrive. Here is where the game really gets interesting: at this point, your player-character will become Inspector Carla Valenti, inspecting the recent ritual murder. Lucas Kane is your suspect, and here you are at his apartment. You’ll be seeing the apartment exactly as you just left it—if you had Lucas wash his shirt, you’ll see the clean shirt. If you had Lucas take a shower, you’ll see Lucas with clean arms. Quantic Dream calls this the “Bungee Story”; actions that you take have a direct effect on the plot, and not in a yes/no way; the story will evolve and move in different directions based on the decisions you’ve made as one character.
But the potential for coolness doesn’t stop there, sports fans. It seems the game also involves some psychological sophistication. You play four or five characters during the course of the game, some of whom are working at cross-purposes. How strong will your motivation be to clean up an apartment, the review asks, if you know that it makes it harder for your police detective character to succeed at their goal?
As long as the French company that designed the game (and, from its official website, has a pretty poor grasp of English, touting the game’s “simplified and really intuitive interface that allows to do an infinity of actions through its unique interface”) didn’t write the game, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll keep you posted.