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Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr

Score: 75%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Gathering
Developer: Terminal Reality
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Survival Horror

Graphics & Sound:

Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr uses the Nocturne engine, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Along with some of the very cool things the Nocturne engine can do (realistic character movements, immersive environments), the game picks up a few of the things that made Nocturne a pain as well -- difficult controls and obnoxious camera angles. In the graphics department, however, itís pretty much all good. The characters are all rendered well, with the only distraction being the mouths that move in no particular rhythm or rhyme compared to what theyíre saying. The environments look suitably spooky, and thereís nothing scarier than running around low on bullets with a flashlight in the woods. Brr.

Of special and very cool note, the flashlight lights things up realistically. I never thought this effect would be all that creepy until I went into the graveyard in the middle of the night and saw the ironwork gateís shadow on the ground. Then I started to get pretty creeped out. This is an excellent, excellent touch.

The voice-acting is also pretty top-notch in BW: Rustin Parr, which is a treat. The sound effects, such as they are, are good, with proper zaps and bangs when you use your ghost dispeller or your normal gun. Quite a bit of the ambient music is the same pops and crackles that you hear on the Blair Witch website and in the movie itself. And just like those, it creeps you out the longer you listen to it. Cool, cool.


Gameplay:

Unfortunately, Volume 1: Rustin Parr gets off to a great start and then degenerates into something of an adventure game mess. Getting lost in the woods once is a cool if scary thing, but this is borderline ridiculous. The fact that the game basically makes it as difficult as possible to pull a good bead on the enemies, and sends you off on quests you wonít understand until theyíre complete, doesnít really help it all.

What Rustin Parr does have going for it is storyline. Doc Holliday, one of the characters from the original Nocturne, is sent to investigate the goings-on in Burkitsville and see if anything supernatural is going on. Sheís more investigator than demon-slayer, and as such, the game concentrates a lot more on getting clues than the original title.

But itís when you get into your fights that youíll find yourself most frustrated. The game throws bad camera angles at you just when this sort of thingís going to happen, in true survival horror style, and the fact that youíre using an awkward mixture of mouse and keyboard to control Holliday doesnít help. Yes, the game auto-aims; no, you canít afford to waste shots blowing the arms off of Daemites. The first time through Day 1, I ran out of ammo before I killed all of the Daemites, and it was tough to make myself do it again. Bad control schemes do not a good game make.

The game itself is also quite short, even perhaps for a budget title. Youíve got Burkitsville and the woods, and thatís just about it. Thatís not necessarily a bad thing, though, because when you canít quite figure out what you need to do, thereís not a whole lot of places to check. I had to go to the website to figure out just what my goal was on Day 1, though, and thatís something of a pain.

Remember: Conserve your bullets.


Difficulty:

If youíre a first time adventure/horror player, youíd do well to stay away from this game. Even though itís made to be more mass-marketable than other titles of the genre, some of the long battles will eat your lunch even on the easy setting. Those who have played the genre before know about the cheap deaths and cheap scares, and will do better. Itís not a particularly difficult game (and you can adjust the difficulty of the puzzles and battles to your liking), but it still feels a little cheap at times.

Game Mechanics:

As stated before, the game controls are difficult at best. The mouse and keyboard combo is your best bet, but itís still the lesser of many evils. The auto-aiming drove me nuts, aiming for parts that I didnít particularly want to waste ammo on, but it was a better alternative than having to aim myself. The engine itself lets you do a few silly things -- poke your gun through walls, etc. -- but nothing major. The Night Vision goggles are cool, and portray the sense of spookiness that technology from the 50s should.

But why the hell does the game want to install every time I put the disc in my CD-ROM drive? Argh!

Blair Witch Project Volume 1: Rustin Parr isnít a particularly bad game, but itís not particularly good either. The evil control and cheap angles detract from the fun of learning more about the whole Blair Witch mythos, and the short play time means that once you know what you need to do, the game ends a little too quickly. Itís rather enjoyable, but there are better examples of the genre out there. Unless youíre a Blair Witch or Nocturne fan, you may want to pass on this one.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



P2 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 850 MB HD Space
 

Test System:



Windows 98 running on a K6-III 450 w/256 MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster Live!, Creative Labs Riva TNT2 Ultra w/32 MB RAM

Sony PSOne Supercross 2000 Windows Blair Witch Volume 2: The Legend of Coffin Rock

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated