Conspiracies Review

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Publisher: Got Game Entertainment
Developer: Anima Ppd-Interactive

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 16 MB video card, 4 GB HD space

By the second half of the 21st Century, Earth is governed by the Higher Federal Government, a loose confederation of city-states that persist despite a wrecked ecology, and bountiful social ills such as unemployment, crime and overpopulation. Nick Delios started as an accomplished student who pioneered revolutionary developments in electronic transplants and medical programming. In an underhanded move, the head of Nick's team, Dimitris Argiriou, claimed the research was his own. When Nick got upset, Dimitris destroyed Nick's life by throwing him off the research team and breaking up Nick's engagement to Dimitris's sister Anita.

Nick was at a loss for what to do. After living a directionless life for a period, drinking heavily and gambling himself into debt, Nick started work as a private detective specializing in industrial espionage. Now, in the year 2063, an old friend and Police Inspector named Thanos Pekas is paying Nick to help solve a murder. The victim seems like a small-time criminal, but turns out to be Nick's introduction to a world of conspiracies heaped upon sinister schemes.

Kyle Ackerman

It's sad to say, but Conspiracies, an adventure mystery game set in the near-future, is a relic of computer gaming's recent past. Anima Ppd was founded in 1993 by Anestis Kokkinidis to create animations and logos, especially for television. In 1998, they began working on Conspiracies, an adventure game that combines live acting and 3D rendered environments. The credits for Conspiracies show the dates of the work as spanning 1998-2002, and it represents an enormous amount of work on the part of developer Anima Ppd. Unfortunately, the computer generated visuals are on par with titles released in the mid-1990s, and the game ignores many of the conventions that make adventure games accessible and entertaining.

Video Games and Foreign Films

Some of the best parts of Conspiracies are the video sequences. The acting and dialogue were originally in Greek. Folks playing the game in English will hear the acting overdubbed in English, and see the text portions translated. Despite the overall low quality of the acting, (one can only assume the poor acting of the English dubbing detracts from the original Greek) you may find yourself developing an affection for Nick Delios. As the main character, starring in most of the video clips, Nick (played by Agelos Vougas) has a rakish charm made endearing by the sort of sympathy you might have for a mangy, stray dog. Much of the video was recorded on a blue-screen set, after which a flat and simplistic computer animated setting was added to the scene. Often, you'll find yourself repeating a video sequence to have another conversation with a character, and you'll be treated to some bizarre scenes (such as a really long music video) that have minimal relevance to the game.

The game invokes the old debate: do you prefer your foreign films dubbed or with subtitles? Conspiracies would have been better if the developers had focused on well-translated subtitles rather than English dubbing. Everything from the introduction to the dialog choices are filled with errors that range from minor grammar problems to major confusion. The interactive dialog, in particular, is an issue, because the choices are translated in such a way that it's difficult to understand or predict what might result from choosing that option. You'll often have to choose the correct dialog option from three possibilities during the live sequences, and actual choices include "You look into her intentions" and "You're playing the dood [sic]." You also need to know that when you select "Terrorism is the only answer," you are trying to scare a witness into cooperating, not threatening to blow up her home.

The Future Has an Awkward Interface

The interface is the main source of problems for the puzzles in Conspiracies. The developers chose to go with a 3D world (similar to many first-person shooters) rather than the 2D interface common to many older adventure games. With a little work, you can get past the fact that people and objects are often 2D cardboard cut-outs in a 3D environment. One issue is that many objects in the environment aren't interactive, and if you click on such a thing, the game gives you no response or feedback. Of course, if you click on an object that is critical to solving a puzzle, but you aren't in the right spot (or are just standing too far away from the object), you also won't get any feedback. That's something you can't overlook. You might have thought that the bra peeking out from behind a pillow on someone's couch was just decoration, and be unable to progress past a later part of the game. Another annoyance is that if you use objects on things that are too far away (or useless), you'll drop whatever you're holding, so combining objects can be a painful process. There are even important puzzle objects hidden throughout seemingly inconsequential portions of the scenery. God forbid you can't find a stick of gum lying in a corner of an out-of-the-way staircase.

Problems don't end there. Your inventory has a finite amount of space, but there are many more objects than you can possibly hold, some of which are useless. If you follow a conventional adventure game strategy of grabbing anything you can, you'll be stuck with a full inventory, and forced to drop objects all over the landscape, some of which might be important. Many of the puzzles require you to decipher complex codes. Some have clues that you can piece together, but others are truly obscure and could cause even a veteran adventure gamer to quit in frustration. Perhaps the biggest problem in the context of adventure games is the inclusion of action sequences and tasks that require reflexes or coordination. These crop up at the end of Conspiracies, and mark a profound change in the style of gameplay offered. Should you fail at these, you'll be treated to the "Game Over, You Lost!!!" screen.

Did the Higher Federal Government Adopt the Euro?

As for the plot, the video sequences do offer some entertainment, particularly some of Nick's bizarre responses to other characters. He can even take time travel completely in stride. That said, the full extent of many of the conspiracies mentioned in the game are only revealed in the game's denouement. The sporadic clues you get as to the nature of such plotting make the sinister conspiracies seem like something of an afterthought compared to the otherwise fairly straightforward murder mystery/crime drama you explore throughout the game. In fact, the whole epilogue seems more like veiled commentary on Greece's role in the European Union than the resolution to the game.

There are plenty of small glitches in Conspiracies, ranging from dialog responses that you'll hear played twice in response to your one question and load times that seem excessive. There are also major irritations, ranging from confusing dialog options to a challenging interface. There's still some fun to be had, but you'll certainly require a walkthrough to make sure you don't explore the world of Conspiracies aimlessly for eternity. Because the game is playable in Greek or English, given that the game is being released at $29.99, you might consider Conspiracies if you've had a longing to play a game with video sequences in Greek. If you're looking for an adventure title in English, there are significant issues to go along with the entertainment.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on October 5, 2003 3:42 PM.

Arx Fatalis Review was the previous entry.

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