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Blade Runner

Publisher: Westwood Studios Developer: Westwood Studios
Reviewer: Bahamut Released: 04/99
Gameplay: 90% Control: 90%
Graphics: 85% Sound/Music: 99%
Story: 95% Overall: 93%


Blade Runner. I'm sure you've heard of the classic sci-fi movie before, the one that began the whole "cyberpunk" scenery and the neon signs and flying cars. Westwood Studios decided to release a point-and-click RPG adventure spanning four discs, and it's so close to the movie it's not even funny. This game definitely lives up to its movie's legacy.

You are Ray McCoy, a rookie Blade Runner who's just been assigned to a case of animal murder (a hefty charge in Los Angeles 2019). It seems you're dealing with Replicants - humanlike robots built by the Tyrell Corp. for off-world use and illegal on Terra. Things escalate and through a series of revelations and self-discovery, Blade Runner takes the gamer on a ride through human morality, what it means to live, and finding out what is real and what isn't.

Executed with the utmost quality, Blade Runner never fails to entertain and the plot twists are light-years ahead of what's seen in most RPG's. There's only one small problem. Thanks to the game's nine or so endings (all of which are almost completely different) the plot branches off a lot, and sometimes important questions don't seem to be answered. But that can be easily overlooked due to the sheer quality of the writing.

Like its movie counterpart, Blade Runner is filled with numerous memorable characters, partly due to the game's incredible amount and quality of spoken dialogue. Ray McCoy is an interesting character, and throughout he struggles to decide who's right and wrong and if he's doing the right thing.

The villains and supporting cast are also excellent - their personalities flow through their speeches, their character designs cool and fitting for the futuristic world the game takes place in. Small characters add to the game even more- like Howie Lee, the owner of the Chinatown diner, or the couple selling grilled food outside Hysteria Hall - little things like that make the game breathe life.

Blade Runner's wonderful score by Vangelis is comprised of mostly the same music as its movie counterpart, with some new added themes. Each song represents the area McCoy is visiting, whether it is the foreign-influenced theme of Animoid Row or the upbeat techno of Nightclub Row. The Blade Runner theme is thankfully present, providing that awe necessary to some scenes. For instance, you can step out onto the balcony of Ray's apartment to view L.A., and the theme begins to play, adding a certain feeling to the screen. It's excellent.

The sound effects are right on par, and oh, the voice acting is pure excellence. Never has a game had this much spoken dialogue of this quality; it sounds like everyday conversation, and each voice is well suited to the respective character.

The point-and-click adventure style of this game may be an immediate turn-off for some people, like myself. I was expecting a game in the same vein as MYST or Riven, so I was a bit worried, but fortunately the game turned out great. You see Ray on the screen at all times, and you walk around the various screens talking to people, visiting new areas, and gathering clues. It's fun. A point-and-click that's fun! Imagine that! You press the right mouse button to pull out McCoy's super-cool gun, and depending on whom you shoot, you can affect the story and ending you get. Pretty cool, huh?

Blade Runner employs the best pre-rendered backgrounds I've ever seen. Not only are 99% of them directly from the movie itself (even some of the camera angles and zoom-ins are the same), but they're also beautiful. There's lots of movement in the backgrounds too, so that makes them all the more amazing - there's rain, spotlights, Spinners flying past, or blimps advertising off-world vacations. The crisp images never fail to dazzle.

The character models are of actual people, but there's one small problem. The characters are running in a very low resolution, so when someone walks close to the front of the screen, you see a mass of pixels and that isn't very pretty. The cinematics are a tad blurry and pixilated as well, but this doesn't detract too much from these otherwise stunning visuals.

The game is just about entirely spoken dialogue; there aren't subtitles or anything to read much of… and that's great. The conversations sound real, the lines are great and everything flows. There are even a handful of classic quotes. This is the best voice acting ever in a video game, and thankfully there's a load of it (that's why it's 4 CD's long).

There were just several nitpicks I had with Blade Runner. First, the game could have been longer. Even with the cool multiple endings, the game should have been longer. I finished my first game in about 4-5 hours (there's no in-game clock) and my second and so forth games were a mere 2 hours or so.

Also, the difficulty levels seem unbalanced. The game is FAR too easy on Easy mode, and on Medium it's too much of a mix between super-difficult and super-easy, and Hard Mode is impossible most of the time.

Other than that, everything was in check. McCoy controlled like a breeze thanks to the easy point-and-click movement. Now that this one can be had for under fifteen dollars, though, it's a steal and definitely worth adding to any RPG fan's collection.

Bahamut

Awesome pre-rendered visuals really set the atmosphere.

Classic scenes taken right from the movie!







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