PC gamers might be familiar with Clive Barker’s previous foray into the videogame space with the very good but somewhat under-appreciated 2001 horror first-person shooter, Undying. Undying was a decent FPS that had an interesting storyline so we were eager to see if Clive Barker’s next project would hold the same type of promise for console gamers. Well, I guess Undying got our hopes way too high since Jericho has about as much appeal as that egg salad sandwich sitting in break-room vending machine at work.The games gives you control of a supernatural version of the A-team called the Jericho Team, which is a Special Forces Unit whose members possess unique spells and weapons. Their mission is to stop God’s first reject child, The Firstborn from destroying the world so where are they sent? The Middle East, of course, where they do battle with evil minions as they try to push The Firstborn back to the Abyss. The premise is far-fetched but could make for decent action game if done right. Notice the caveat? If done right.First off, the game’s graphics look fantastic on the PlayStation 3. Your first thought is the game must be using the Unreal 3 engine. Wrong – it is using the developer, Mercury Steam Entertainment’s own engine, which gives the game a highly polished look. The high poly count of the in-game characters gives them excellent detail, especially the enemies. It’s pretty obvious Clive Barker had some input on the look of the creatures and fortunately, the graphics engine allows enough detail to properly exhibit their grotesque form. The creatures are really bizarre looking and perfectly complement the game’s disturbing surroundings. The environments are also well suited to the story since they exhibit the decay and twisted images that could only come from the mind of Clive Barker. Now, if only the rest of the game was as good.The idea of jumping into the shoes of various playable characters is not new in video games and Jericho tries to add some variety with the varying attributes of each different squad member but ultimately, it just doesn’t gel. The biggest reason is due to your mentally challenged, suicidal squad mates. You can heal members of your squad after they become incapacitated, which is fine but in Jericho it’s a full-time job. These knuckleheads will stand out in the open and fire away without any qualms about taking a bullet to the head, shoulder, arm, chest, stomach, leg, foot – I think you get the idea. This isn’t a good thing considering how intense the firefights are and the fact that enemies are pretty relentless when they charge at you. Sometimes your teammates will use cover but it’s not often enough so they have to be constantly revived. Beside yourself, the Preacher character is the only other team member who can heal so if he says his last prayer, then you’re the only one who can revive your team members. If you bite it trying, then it’s back to the beginning of the level or checkpoint. So much for kicking evil’s ass.There is a fair amount of depth with each character’s a**nal so you’ll be able to find one that suits you. Since all of the characters have both standard weapons and supernatural powers, it won’t take long before you’ll get comfortable with a certain squad member. My personal favorite was the telekinetic, Lt. Abigail Black who packs a combination sniper rifle and grenade launcher. She also has the ability to fire a Ghost Bullet, which can be controlled through the analog sticks. You can actually hit more than one target if you aim carefully. All of the characters have at least one cool attack mode but unfortunately, it never seems like you can fully enjoy playing the different characters since your squad mates always seems to be dead and there you go ahead, reviving their sorry asses.Besides the unique abilities, the game also tries to differentiate itself from standard shooters by adding a few other features such as squad commands and interactive cinematic events. You can direct orders to the two different squads but it’s limited to attack and hold. There is no way to direct the squads to any specific location so this feature is about as useful as a crossing guard directing Marines on the beaches of Iowa Jima. The interactive cinematic events are similar to what’s been done before in third-person games such as God of War and Heavenly Sword. In Jericho, the events are triggered during various situations such as climbing or fending off a creature that jumps on you. These events really don’t add much to the game except some frustration when you have to repeat the button sequence if your initial timing is off. Motion control would be more fun, which isn’t saying much. The other glaring problem with Jericho is the level design, which is way too linear as you’re directed through an endless series of narrow paths and cramped tunnels throughout the game. The game feels like a throwback to the days of Doom with its level design and carries it to the point of having your enemies explode into massive gibs. Exploding bodies never gets old but slogging through similar looking passageways and outdoor areas certainly does. It also doesn’t help that the game seems to have loading screens for every 20 minutes of gameplay.I mentioned the excellent graphics but the sound is unfortunately a completely different story. First of all, what is with the cheesy voice acting? If you want to insult the intelligence of your audience, there is no easier way to do this then to have sophomoric trash talking and F-bombs as part of your game characters’ standard dialogue. And for the umpteenth time, I know Father Rawlings is mortally wounded! You are constantly reminded that half of your team is down. Never mind I can see death skull icons all over the screen so why do I need to be reminded every ten seconds by a terrible voice actor?There is no multiplayer option, which this game could use but then again; maybe this is a good thing since the developers would have probably flubbed that too. Jericho reminds me of the Frankenstein monster where a bunch of different parts are thrown together but intelligence is completely left out of the mix. The end result is either villagers running from the monster in pure terror or going for the nearest torch and pitchfork. Neither of which is the outcome the creator was expecting.
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.