10
Oct
08

Good Gaming Friday: Fahrenheit

…or Indigo Prophecy if you were unlucky enough to be born in the United States and have marketing people give the game a much less cool-sounding name.

Fahrenheit – PC/PS2/XBOX/360

As this was released relatively recently (2005), I would presume most people have heard of this game. Billed by the makers as ‘anything but a standard third-person action adventure’ * the game focuses on three main characters; two police officers, Carla, the female one, Tyler, the stereotypical African-American one, and Keanu Reeves Lucas, the more-main-than-the-others character. He is not a cop.

You may have noticed already that this review isn’t taking itself too seriously. The principal reason for this is that after a certain point in the game, it becomes very hard to take Fahrenheit seriously at all. Before this point, I would list Fahrenheit as one of the best third-person adventure games I’ve played, but afterwards, as a friend says: “It all goes a bit batshit.” The plot starts as a suspenseful murder-mystery, as you control Lucas evading the police and trying to prove his innocence, whilst also playing the part of the police officers trying to track him down. So noir, so good. You even influence the scenarios the other characters will face, such as whether you hide/find evidence, ask/answer questions, and build good/bad relations with friends and family members.

Do you hide the body? Do you wash your hands? Did you flush? Do you change your fashion sense to look less like a homicidal maniac?

Almost everything in-game is timed somehow, so that you act on the spur of the moment, and as naturally as possible. This includes having only a few seconds to answer questions in, or 24-esque split screen moments as you attempt to accomplish a task before the police arrive. Most of the game’s actions are controlled using the two analogue sticks on the controller, or (in what I found the easiest way) a combination of WSAD and the Arrow keys on the PC. This control method works superbly at first, meaning you can get involved in the game from the off, without having to worry about learning fiddly button combinations. Action sequences are controlled in a similar way, with either two flashing circles corresponding to a combination of the directions you can press, or a bashing of certain buttons to perform an action.

However, as you progress through the game, you realise that’s it. Aside from a shooting-range section, there’s never more to do in action scenes than match on-screen flashes, like a European arthouse version of Parappa The Rapper.  Then, as you start to get a bit tired of this, the ‘batshit’ kicks in, and the action scenes are a direct rip off highly influenced by The Matrix.

Lucas Kane. An average guy, hanging onto an average helicopter, in the midst of an average pre-apocalyptic blizzard.

Once things start going weird, the game falls apart very quickly. What was once a suspense-filled game, that drew you into the plot perfectly, is now a by-numbers videogame pile of rubbish, with important characters and plot-points ‘revealed’ no more than an hour before the game ends. It all descends into one of the most disappointing end-fights in gaming history, where it’s the same old action mechanics, and, (edited to remove the most stupid spoiler in history.)

I couldn’t find any action shots of Carla, so here she is in her underwear instead.

Overall, Fahrenheit is a rewarding game experience for the first half, and then unbelievably stupid for the second half. It’s worth the 1200 Points currently on the Xbox Live marketplace (approx. £10) but that’s all.

Pros: Strong starting story, easy-to-learn controls, non-pretentious nudity.

Cons: Weak second half, controls get repetitive, two annoying stealth sections.

Demo for the PC

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