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المساهمات : 82
تاريخ التسجيل : 04/12/2007

مُساهمةموضوع: لعبة   الأربعاء ديسمبر 26, 2007 3:47 am




Tomorrow looks a lot like today in The Moment of Silence. This verbose
adventure from House of Tales Entertainment may be set in a vaguely
fascist America circa 2044, but you'd barely know it based on a
lukewarm plot that never rises to potboiler temperatures. Character
development, puzzles, and the look and sound of the game are all above
average, although there is a certain superficiality to everything that
prevents you from getting totally immersed in the story. Perhaps the
biggest problem is a lack of buildup. The game starts abruptly, tossing
you into the sneakers of despondent New York communications designer
Peter Wright shortly after the death of his wife and son in a plane
crash. This tragedy isn't the focus of the plot, though. Everything
gets rolling after Peter's neighbor, a journalist by the name of Graham
Oswald, is mysteriously abducted by what looks to be a police SWAT
team. Only problem is that the cops have no record of bringing the man
into custody. So you take on the task of finding him, and you'll soon
get wrapped up in what plays out as a futuristic X-Files episode decked
out with shadow government nastiness and intimations of ETs. This saga
never gets beyond a Mulder and Scully rip-off, but House of Tales has
put together an interesting future where the entire world is wired and
Big Brother is watching you. Fossil- fuel consumption has been banned,
so everyone gets around in satellite cabs. The Net has seemingly
replaced all other forms of communication, to the point where Peter's
contacts with other people come primarily via online chats and a super
video-phone/PDA called a messenger. Big TV screens are even mounted on
street corners and in homes, pumping out some kind of feel-good
propaganda to the citizens. Unfortunately, the game scratches the
surface of this believable world. It only hints at issues like
censorship and government control in a tech-driven society before
backing off so you can save the world in stereotypical adventure game
fashion. Not enough attention has been paid to fine details, which
means that the world of 2044 looks a lot like the world of 2005. And
some of the niftier story aspects are ignored for odd trivia. So while
you get The Jetsons-style names for candy bars and notice that the New
York Knicks now exist as a computer simulation, nobody comments on the
bizarre JumboTron propaganda videos that consist of nature scenes and
stock footage like rocket ships blasting off. This is actually really
disappointing, because there has to be a cool story behind the powers
that be that are broadcasting what looks like outtakes from
Koyaanisqatsi to the masses. This makes it difficult to think of The
Moment of Silence as taking place in the future, and it can be jarring
when something like a trip to the moon from JFK International Airport
is presented as a mundane excursion. Far too many settings are sterile
and remote, too. Downtown New York makes Dubuque, Iowa, look like a
24-hour carnival, and farther-flung locales, like the Arecibo SETI
Institute in Puerto Rico, are even more deserted. Most scenes boast no
more than two or three slack-jawed onlookers, and, even stranger for
New York, no cars at all. Perhaps this is intentional, a way for the
developers to emphasize a future world where everybody orders in food
and sends instant messages all day. But since the absence of people on
the streets is never mentioned, this just cheapens production values
and calls attention to the fact that you're playing a game. Gameplay,
however, is a pretty compelling blend of old-school
pick-up-everything-that-isn't-nailed-down adventuring and more modern
puzzle-solving in the tradition of Myst and its successors. As Peter,
you collect objects, quiz the locals on tasks and objects, and solve
brainteasers like inputting codes to power an elevator and figuring out
how to point parabolic satellite dishes. Much of the game is fairly
easy, although too many screens turn into pixel hunts where you need to
find small objects like pills or cables, and too many quests are of the
"sure I'll get you the framistat if you give me the whatsit" variety.
You also need a lot of patience to get through the loads of
conversation trees that need to be accessed to trigger new plot
developments. Most characters in the game go on and on and have to be
repeatedly prompted to get through all of their dialogue. And there are
many moments--most notably Peter's interminably long encounter with the
security robot in his office building--where you want to scream at the
game to hurry the hell up. Some of these conversations are rather
goofy, too, and they have been clearly put in place to build the plot
rather than focus on realistic characters. Although, getting a
geopolitical lecture from a guy running a newsstand is at least
unintentionally funny.

The look and sound of the game is impressive overall, negating some of
the above quibbles. Visuals are a touch on the dated side, but no more
so than in any other contemporary adventure. The only real irritant
here is the lack of people and cars on the New York streets, as
mentioned above. Voice acting is competent to very good, although the
game is hampered with a dozy lead who at times sounds barely coherent
enough to bag groceries, let alone unravel a nefarious global plot. The
piano- and techno-based score sets a great noir mood, too. At times,
the interface isn't quite up to the tasks at hand. The camera system
often doesn't provide good views, so you have to walk around to make
sure that you've spotted everything in a room. Objects have to be
dragged onto non-player characters to move the plot and open up new
conversation strands, which can result in you emptying your pockets to
strangers in order to be sure that you aren't missing something. Many
screens are so big that it takes nearly a minute to run from one side
to another. And some scenes are pointless wastes of time, like when you
have to wait while the elevator slowly moves up to Peter's 23rd-floor
apartment every time he goes home, and during the card-swiping
animation every time he hops into a cab. All in all, the design could
have benefited from a lot more automation.Basically, The Moment of
Silence is a near miss. It has virtually everything that fans want in
adventures, including an interesting sci-fi story and sensible puzzles.
But barren scenery, occasionally wonky plot development, and clogged-up
mechanics make it something of an ambitious flop.




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