Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Intruder

I might get some flak for reviewing Intruder, because as far as games go, this one isn't so bad. A point and click thriller , it has divided opinion, and I personally see a lot of problems with it. You might call this nitpicking, but hey - I'm a gamer, that's what I do.

Oh, first thing's first:



If you're young, weak of heart, or have never watched the nine o'clock news, you better log off now, because we're about to get hardcore up in here. The subtitle to Intruder is "Help your friends and don't make a sound!" Except every time you move or open a door or pick something up, you make a ton of noise. What are you even doing anyway? Oh yeah, your friend Sarah has called you sounding very distraught. There's someone in the house, and you're the only person she could think of to call.

OK, Sarah? The number is 9-1-1. They make it very simple, so even an idiot could dial it. Then again, your character may be a cop. Anyway, time is of the essence, so you drive to the house and-

Wait, you're not even within walking distance of the house? If this was real life, your friends would all be dead by the time you got there, surely? But this isn't real life, this is a game, so I should just let it slide.

I must admit, everything is very well drawn, but the game is dark as hell. You can't even admire the black and white artwork because it's always shrouded in shadow.

I mean, look at this!



Aren't there any lights on this street? Why go to all the trouble of these very detailed images if the player can barely see anything? Is it supposed to be scary? Well, it's not!

Look, I'll save you some time here and tell you that you go around the house and enter through the back yard. But before you do that, you need to go the garage. If you find yourself lost or stuck, the developers have handily provided a map of the house, along with hints and tips which more often than not completely remove any challenge.



Yeah, just fumble around in the garage while some maniac carves up your buddies. You find a couple of batteries - gee, I wonder what I'll use these for?

After you leave the garage you head up to the back porch, where a flashlight just happens to be. And wouldn't you know, this flashlight takes the exact type of batteries you found in the garage! What a coincidence!

All right, I know, that's nothing to complain about, not really. Better to complain about the fact that the porch is so friggin' dark, you can barely see the flashlight in the first place!



Where the fuck is it!? Well, eventually you find it, and you can finally enter the house. Your first port of call is the laundry room, for some reason. Unfortunately, despite your brand new torch, you still happen to hit a tin of cat food and make some noise. Oh no, the intruder is coming! At this point you have to decide what you're going to do, and you get to choose from three options.



If you picked "Meow like a cat", congratulations - you're still alive. And to think - they laughed at you for spending all that money on animal impersonation lessons!

Oh, I should add at this point that the reason you enter the laundry room is because you'll find the first half of a pin code in there, casually thrown in the trash - the same trash that the cat just happened to be rummaging through.



I don't know about you guys, but I can make out the third digit as well. I think it's safe to assume it's a 2. So we're really just looking for one more number. Don't worry, we'll find it soon enough.

Anyway, we move into the kitchen, and God damn it, it's still really fucking dark!



They should have just made this a text adventure, it would have been no more difficult and saved them a lot of time. You pick up a couple of things, here. First there's a knife, but don't go thinking you can just sneak up on the intruder and stick him like you used to do on Riker's. Also of note is a calender. Hmm, calenders have numbers on them, don't they?



One of these dates is significant. Hey... you don't think it's the only date with a big black circle around it, do ya?

As you move further along, you soon find the pantry, which just happens to have a doorway down into the cellar. And wouldn't you know it, this door is currently shut tight with a combination lock.



Oh man, I wonder what the numbers are? (We're drowning in sarcasm here!)

Head down into the cellar and you'll find a fuse box. It should be incredibly obvious to all but the most moronic what you do here. Hell, they even point it out to you on the map.



OK, so you return the power to the house and all the lights come on. How were they turned off to begin with? The fuse box is down here in the cellar, the door of which was locked. Clearly no powerlines were cut because everything is back on, so what happened here? Unless the intruder happens to possess the skills of the Jedi, I don't see how he managed to flip this switch without physically being in the room.

Come to think of, he is pretty Darth Vader-like.



Check this shit out: the lights are on, everything is bright and visible, but this guy's still completely black. Is he wearing some sort of cloaking device? Is he a ninja?

A Jedi ninja. You might as well give up now.

Regardless, he's moved away from you (which is strange - I would have thought that he'd start to suspect that maybe someone else was in the house at this point.) Make your way down the hall and into the office and... *gasp!*




Oh noes is right! Scott is dead! Why!? Not Scott! Anyone but Scott! Oh, cruel hand of fate, why did you strike down one such as Scott!?

Remind me to pour one out for my dead homie when all this is over.

Scott may have been slashed from ear to ear, but that doesn't mean you can't root around through his stuff. Before that, though, his mobile will get a text, and you have to hide before the intruder finds you. But yeah, once you're done fucking around with that, jimmy Scott's drawer open with the knife. Sure, you'll lose the knife, but now you'll be packing!



Now we're talkin'! We never really got to know Scott, but it's still surprising to find some heavy-duty weaponry in his desk. That text was from Sarah; she's locked herself in the bedroom with the other gun. The other gun? Jesus - Scott and Sarah are straight up gangsta!

Don't bother checking the computer - all you'll find is some stupid maze game that you have to play or else attract the attention of the intruder. Yeah, I don't have time for a psychopath wielding a butcher's knife, I have to finish Scott's game. Hey - it's what he would have wanted.

We head further down the hallway and discover just how dumb the intruder actually is:



I don't know about you, but if I was lying in wait for somebody, I probably wouldn't stand just inside a doorway so that my shadow is reflected off the far wall every time lightning strikes. But hey, this guy's a professional, he must know what he's doing. Or not - I swung in there and unloaded a clip on him. Somehow he manages to hit you and run off. You're a bit shaky, but it's OK. You gotta take this guy out now, though!



He's in one of these rooms. Choose wisely, for the wrong decision now could mean your death!

No it won't. You can just leave and go into the other room. I would have thought the intruder would have tried stabbing you in the back. But apparently not - this particular nutjob has a lot of respect for fair play. That's nice of him. But I'm still going to blow his head off. And even though my shooting arm is kind of shaky, I still manage to do it with some ease.



That one's for Scott, bitch! You notice he had in his hand the key to Sarah's bedroom. Wait, he had it this whole time? And he just figured he'd skulk around the house for a while first? What kind of serial killer is this? A dumbass serial killer, that's what.

So yeah, you head back down the hallway and unlock the bedroom door. You don't knock on it or perhaps shout, "Sarah, it's me, Edgar." (I don't actually know what his name is, but Edgar's as good as any.) No, you just unlock the door and barge right in. So you really shouldn't be surprised when this happens:



You have three choices - shoot her first, tackle her to the ground, or let her shoot you. Apparently, the dumbest choice is actually the right one. Because she had blanks in her gun. You remember the box of blanks in Scott's desk? Yeah, that's what happened to them! Wow, good thing they only own one box of real bullets and one box of blanks, huh? And it's really good that Sarah is illiterate, or else she probably would have read the word "Blanks" in bold type on that box, and loaded her gun with the others.

Unlike Sarah, you are capable of calling the police, and they arrive quickly. You're both safe, but not for long, it would seem. Because you suddenly get a mysterious call on your phone. "Next time you kill someone, you better make sure they're dead." What?



Oh no! That's not possible! How is he still alive!?

No, seriously. That's not possible. How is he still alive? I'm no doctor, but I would have thought shooting someone at point blank range in the forehead would be enough to put them down for good. Wouldn't he be missing the back of his head? And how'd he get my number anyway?

So the intruder, it seems, was an immortal Jedi ninja. Thinking about it like that, I was actually lucky to beat this game!

OK, OK, so it's not a particularly bad game, but that doesn't mean it's a good one. While it looks pretty, there is no challenge here. This is why so many games are shitty - they're either too easy or too difficult. I want a game that I can beat, but I don't want it to be a walk in the park. Intruder has a lot of potential but falls way short of the mark.

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