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Blair Witch Project: Volume 1 Review

21 Apr 2008  by   Paul Younger
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You’ve seen the film, soaked up all the hype and now you can get a slice of Blair Witch action on your PC courtesy of Terminal Reality. This is the first of three Blair Witch games, the two being developed by Human Head and Ritual, that will appear on the PC over the next few months and should rekindle interest in Blair Witch.To set the scene, you play Elspeth “Doc” Holiday who is part of the secret government agency “The Spookhouse” which investigates supernatural phenomenon.

If you’ve played Nocturne you will be familiar with the game’s background. In fact Elspeth appeared in the original title and The Stranger makes an appearance in this game to tie things in nicely.The game is set during 1941 in Burkittsville, Maryland. The story starts when a man called Rustin Parr wanders into the town announcing ‘his work is done’. After some investigation by the town’s sheriff they discover the bodies of 7 missing children under the house of Rustin Parr. The Spookhouse hear of the events and think something fishy is going on in Burkittsvile so they send you to investigate. On arrival at you have to work undercover and tell a few fibs so as not arouse suspicion. It’s here your adventure really begins.

At the start of the game you are immediately thrust into a training mode based at Spookhouse HQ. The training will get you familiar with character movement as well as how to use your items and weapons from your inventory, they even get you to check your mouse sensitivity just to make sure everything is just right. We found the best control method is one you’re used to, we subsequently set all the keys up the same as an FPS config. Your character can carry out all the usual movements including strafing. During the game you’ll find a lot of movement is required during combat so it’s important to get things just right at the start. All items are reached by a straight forward inventory system or in the case of weapons accessible via hotkeys which you can configure enabling you to set things up pretty much as you see fit.The game is viewed from various automatic camera angles depending on where you are on the screen.

When playing a game that uses this system, things can get highly confusing, fortunately Terminal Reality have done a good job and it’s not too frustrating as you move to a new part of the screen. Obviously it takes a bit of getting used to as far as controlling the character is concerned.The story unfolds as you progress through the game via in-game cut sequences. The Nocturne engine handles all these pretty well although the characters do look a bit pixelated which was a shame. Where the Nocturne engine shines is the actual in game scenery and camera angles. The scenery and lighting in this game are stunning. Your character has a flashlight, hand-held or weapon mounted, and when switched on it’s highly realistic, especially when reflecting off something like a mirror. The textures are also top-notch, everything is highly detailed making it easy to pick out usable objects that you’ll find dotted around the game. There is also a lot of attention to detail, light switches can be flicked on an off, radios can be turned on, it all adds to the realism.Weaponry is mixed bag of guns and melee weapons. As you start the investigation you pack your suitcase with various gizmos and gadgetry which includes a handgun, rifle and the souped up Enhanced Charge Radiance Emitter to dispose of those nasty ghosts . As this is a third person game aiming is not the easiest. To help with aiming there is a thin red line extending from the weapon, much like a laser targeting system to help keep your bullets on track. Throughout the game you will also come across weapons like axes and stakes which inflict some serious damage.

We noticed Terminal Reality have been keen to show of the gore factor, at one point we took on a bunch of zombies with a nasty looking axe, if you get a decent blow in the game goes into slow motion as limbs go flying, pretty impressive if you get a good head shot.The character animation is pretty good, the movement is smooth and realistic on all characters in the game including the enemies. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for lip synching in cut-scenes, this was pretty poor, kind of like watching a badly dubbed movie.

So is Rustin Parr spooky? Put it this way, with the lights turned off and the sound cranked up, when something happens you’ll probably jump a mile, this game is just oozing atmosphere. The sound in the game is superb, from crunching leaves to crashing thunder, it’s all been designed to make your skin crawl. The voice acting also deserves a notable mention, it’s been very professionally done, there’s nothing here that will make you snigger, even Elspeth’s English accent is good which makes a change.While we’re on the subject of ‘spook-factor’, expect things to happen from every conceivable angle, beasties will leap out of nowhere when you least expect it, pick up weapons they find lying around and come at you.

Take a wander through the woods only to find you’ve completely disappeared off the map and your ghost detection device starts going mental and you have practically no visibility. Yep, we can safely say this game is creepy as h**.To wrap-up, if you like a good adventure with action and a bit of puzzle solving thrown in then this could be the game for you, it’s got the atmosphere just right and it’ll keep you on edge. On the other hand if you are looking for a fast paced action zombie-slash-em-up or the control system of Nocturne drove you nuts this probably won’t appeal. Overall Rustin Parr is a fun, tense and engrossing game.

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