Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) Review

leave a comment »

fahrenheit_xboxindigo_prophecy_ps2Platform: Xbox, Playstation 2, PC (both the original and the just released Remastered Edition)
Released: 2005 (worldwide)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Atari
Digital Release? Yes – Available on Xbox 360 as an Xbox Original and Remastered is on Steam ($9.99 for all versions)
Price: $8.00 (disc only), $10.99 (complete), and $46.97 (new/sealed) per Price Charting (prices are for PS2 version, Xbox/PC versions a bit lower due to re-release)

Jam’s Take

Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy in America) is one of those games that attempted to create a interactive film experience. Some excepted this concept with open arms, some people frowned on it proclaiming it technically wasn’t a game. Well several years has passed since that fateful release in 2005 so lets see if Fahrenheit is still worth investing in.

Fahrenheit’s story has you following three character Lucas Kane a 9-to-5 IT worker who has a fondness for reading Shakespeare in diners, Carla Valenti a young cop who is claustrophobic and Tyler Miles, Carla’s police partner and your typical comic relief in a cop duo but he likes basketball, which is ok in my book. Essentially New York as well as the world is starting to get cold, really cold and bizarre murders are occurring round the city where normal folk are killing innocent people then themselves. I won’t spoil the story too much as it is the games strongest draw. What I will say is the game is filled with a fair few twists and turns playing out very much like a film, if it hooks you from the beginning it is very likely you will play through to the end.

ss-fahrenheit-001Fahrenheit is a game that starts you off in one hell of a predicament. You start the story as Lucas Kane, during a brief period of possession Lucas cuts open his own wrists and then proceeds to stab the hell out of a innocent guy in the toilet. He then comes to his senses and the player takes control. This is quite something for a game as this rather tense moment is timed you can either go through a long process of hiding the body and the evidence and sneak out of the diner without anyone suspecting what you did, or you can just run out the door in a panic. The entire game is played out by the players decisions, some choices lead to death which means you have to re start the scene though there are usually multiple routes to progress through the story.

Gameplay wise you basically control your character with the left thumb stick and you then use the right thumbstick to interact with items in the world displayed on the top frame of the screen. The game then has this simon says quick time event system which plays out during the major action screens. You basically have to use both analogue sticks and move them in time with the displays on the screen. The game positions this in the centre of the screen so you can watch the action. Being the anxious gamer, I was much more concerned with getting the prompts correct than watching the scenes.

fahr2An important mechanic the game uses which I felt never seemed to have a big enough impact on the game as it should is the mood meter. Basically certain choices and decisions you make in the game will impact a small bar on the bottom right of the screen that pops up to show the mental stability of you character. Should your character get too depressed the game is over. It seemed like a great mechanic to use in the game maybe affecting how you react to other characters in the game, sadly it really doesn’t have any impact on the story unless your intentionally getting your character depressed to see the game over scene. On that note that’s one thing I admire about the game if you die or fail you get a scene that pretty much ends the story of the entire game rather than a typical game over screen. Of course you can try the scene again where you left off but this is a clever concept to close the story entirely should you not want to continue further.

Graphics for the game are standard affair. The 3D character models and environments are showing their age by today’s standard of games. If you enjoy the story the graphics will not deter you from the experience, most of your experience will be spent in snowy environments and peoples apartments though there are a few surprise locations you will not expect. This game also used motion capture on the characters so most of the animations were carried out by real life actors. The game has a nice little documentary giving a over view how the game was made like a dvd extra which is something I wish more games incorporated.

fahr3The soundtrack to the game is pretty good. This games uses music from real artists like Theory of a Deadman and Nina Simone and giving them some pretty good exposure most likely increasing their own popularity and music sales. Even if your not too fond of the music the game does a good job using it at the right scenes where it would make sense to fire off a certain song like good old ‘love TKO’ by Teddy Pendergrass during a make out scene. The games score stands head over heals as the strongest music in the game, most of the melodies just feeling so hopeless and sad, matching the mood of each scene so well like a blockbuster film. Combining both the music and score together makes a killer combination which the game also allows you to listen to at your convince in the extras menu. In case that wasn’t enough the voice acting is solid. This is pretty important for a game that is heavily story focused. Almost every character is believable in their role although occasionally you’ll come across the odd line of dialogue from a character that just makes no sense usually from the background extras.

Fahrenheit is not a long game at all. Unlike most games this game is designed for you to see it through to the end, you will probably complete it in two long gaming sessions. Should the quick time events bother you too much you can turn the difficulty down making it a lot more manageable, which is something I actually recommend in this game since it is story focused. The game has multiple endings but after completing the game the first time it is unlikely you’ll be playing through the story again straight away. This is one of those games you’ll probably play through once a year and maybe just do things a little different compared to how you remember doing them before and you will most likely see scenes play out differently each time you play through.

fahr4

Of course the big deterrent is if the story doesn’t grab you then you won’t like this game and will likely fall into the crowd of people who moan that this is a film not a game. Personally I praise designs like this but I guess a lot of that’s stems from one of the other passions in my life which is of course is watching films and this game does a fantastic job of creating a interactive story telling experience that just works. The game isn’t arcade action or FPS fragging, it’s a unique game that allows you to determine your own path through it. I recommend this game for everybody to try especially to those who are looking for a more casual experience. Plus if nothing else if your a busy gamer this is one game I can assure you most people will complete.

Final Score: 3 out of 5 (review policy)

Fred’s Take

When it comes to video games and what I like in them, I’m all over the place.  I’ve claimed to be all about story, but then tear down the very genre that helped define storytelling in video games.  At the same time I claim that Resident Evil is my favorite game of all time and it’s not particularly good at gameplay or story, so despite how annoying my taste can sound, it really just comes down to how I feel about a certain game and not typically the sum of its parts.  That’s why I’m so ambiguous about what I think about Fahrenheit – yes, as Jam stated it’s Indigo Prophecy in the States but that’s all changed with the Remastered Edition and let’s face it, Fahrenheit is the cooler and more appropriate title.

ind_proph4

In one regard the game evolves the story from being a simple concept, a man who awakens to find a dead body with him in a bathroom, to a truly out of this world science fiction story with the entire world at stake.  We don’t take too long to get there either, which is another enchanting part to Quantic Dream’s storytelling, and the progression is weaved in so naturally it’s like the time you accepted a shark can blow up from an air tank in Jaws.  All of this seemingly quick progression is pulled off thanks to the concept of taking control of multiple people, which is compounded by the fact that you’re playing both the criminal on the run and the cops tracking him down, and the rarely pulled off concept of the unreliable narrator.  When visions and reality start to blend with Lucas, especially when you mix those with the conceived true realities of Carla and Tyler, it makes for a quite impressive effect that you either allow yourself to get engulfed in or snub for face value.  I have to admit that in 2005, many games were trying to do what Fahrenheit does, but it’s one of the few titles that successfully pulled it off without becoming too boring or vague.

ind_proph_1Now as I said I’m torn on the value of this game and clearly I’m on board with the story, but what hitches me is both the assembly of that story and the gameplay elements that get in the way much more often than they assist in the experience.  Let’s focus on the assembly of the story that I so graciously praised.  It has you switching back and forth between Lucas, Tyler, and Carla on a regular basis, but already in the setup you can see the conflict of character development and plot dynamics: there is only one criminal and two cops.  As a result we are forced to split the detective work between Tyler and Carla at the expense of learning too much about their personal lives in what starts off as nice touches to character development and ends up in what appears to be filler levels.  The early establishing scenarios where we get to see Carla and Tyler’s home lives is useful because there’s a lot to take in visually while they are having a simple conversation on the phone.  We learn about Tyler’s relationship, both characters’ apartments, the fact that Carla seems to own the same sleeping underwear outfit that David Cage puts in every female lead he has in a game, but I feel that beyond those moments we are then led on odd wild goose chases for simple snippets of data or clues that could be best integrated into a larger scene surrounding it.  Jam felt this game was short, but the first time through probably took me around 10 hours and frankly I only felt that about six or seven of those hours (and the scenes they contained) were worthwhile.  I’ll give credit to the fact that Quantic Dream was still trying to figure out how to skate the line between movie and game – which they still haven’t figured out and no longer holds water with later titles – but many games in the mid 2000s were shorter than Fahrenheit and had more to offer as well.

ind_proph3Then we come to the “gameplay” elements, the weakest link in all Quantic Dream games.  Aside from a bit of tank-controlled point-and-click adventure shenanigans, you are mostly left to play through action sequences via quick-time event (QTE).  I’m not the biggest fan of QTEs, but not because I find them difficult or without value, and rather because they change your focus from the action going on in the game to arbitrary button prompts along the borders of the screen.  A perfect example of this is the office sequence early in the game, where Lucas has to escape from a surprise attack (I won’t spoil what), and you’re forced to ignore the relatively cool sequence of events as Lucas evades his attackers.  Did you get to see those events?  Can you revel in the interesting close calls and near misses?  Nope, because you were busy looking at the bottom of the screen for the next blue arrow or X prompt.  It begs you to do two things at once: watch the action and play the game.  Few can do this and I’m definitely not of that smaller group.  This gets even worse when the game really ramps it up in the middle and forces you to do an insane series of button prompts in Lucas’s apartment during an apparent dream where a pathetically rote series of casual visuals play the backdrop.  This portion is double-fail for me because it not only shows off how stupid the QTE element is and the frustrating nature to which it’s integrated, but also that the developers didn’t even bother to couple it with something interesting on the screen.  By the time I completed that sequence that had nearly 100 button presses and the ability to only fail 3 of them (I will admit I believe I was on hard difficulty), I was both physically exhausted and had about had enough of Fahrenheit.  Aside from investigation and QTE, there are a handful of stealth elements in an military base that prove Quantic Dream is also terrible at stealth.  Put it all together and I felt at times like the game was daring me to quit.

ind_proph_2

As you can see, my thoughts on Fahrenheit are all over the place.  It’s like an ex-girlfriend that was so crazy I couldn’t bear to stay with her but the good times we had were so acute that I couldn’t imagine not going back.  This game always tempted me with some interesting plot points and that air of mystery right before slapping me across the face with challenges that go against everything I like about video game difficulty.  In the end I can admit that I love the over-arching plot and the ending is something worth seeing through, but that doesn’t me an I have to like the potholes I found myself in on a semi-regular basis.  I guess in short, play the game on easy.

Final Score: 3 out of 5

farrenheit_indigo_prophecy_remastered_game_coverfah_cenDid you know that Quantic Dream recently released the Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered version of this game that upgrades the visuals and adds controller support on PC?  Oh and I guess everyone’s all overjoyed that the censored sex scenes in the US version of the game are back in all it’s polygonal video game detail, for whatever that’s worth.  It’s only been out for just over a week, but against his better judgement Fred will be taking a quick look at it for this week’s Retro Game Night so watch for a video with snarky commentary to go live on Saturday.  Hell, it may just convince you to give this unique title a try.

Written by jamalais

February 5, 2015 at 11:50 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: