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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: April 23, 2002
Nobody scared me to death when I was young the way Alfred Hitchcock did. I still remember seeing a rerun of an episode of the television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, called “The Glass Eye,” and it was so jolting that I had nonstop nightmares for over a month. Rather than using monsters to create fear, Hitchcock was the master of suspense, twisting seemingly routine situations into bizarre unnerving surprises. So when I had a chance to review Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Final Cut, developed by Arxel Tribe and published by Ubi Soft, I jumped at the chance.
You assume the role of Joseph Shamley, a private detective who acquired psychic powers when his parents were killed in a car accident. You are all ready to leave on a fishing holiday when Alicia, the intriguing attractive mute niece of pharmaceutical tycoon Robert Marvin-Jordan, stops you in your tracks. She tells you that her uncle (not surprisingly a Hitchcock fan) had been shooting a film on their estate when, all of a sudden, both he and the crew seemingly disappeared overnight. Using your special abilities, it is your mission through the six chapters of the plot to explain this disappearance, which you quickly learn involves bloodshed, and to unravel the mystery surrounding it. The story involves so many devious twists and turns that some may get lost and lose track.
Like most virtual adventures, The Final Cut has plenty of puzzles to solve. Clues come from interviewing people, gathering, analyzing and assembling information, and picking up, examining and using objects at the proper place and time. The primary purpose for undertaking these activities, many of which are linked to Hitchcock’s body of work, is to gain entrance to new locales, as most of the entrances are initially locked. Some of the tasks you undertake, such as having to bake an apple crumble recipe, are quite odd. The puzzle solving is unfortunately quite linear; often taking a given step in one area is not possible unless you have accomplished a series of prerequisite prior steps in the exact sequence the designers hoped. The general absence of multiple means of achieving goals can become a source of real frustration as you strive to make your way forward. However, the early puzzles in particular are extremely easy compared to the mind-frying enigmas found in many adventure offerings.
The virtual conversations are not as rewarding as they could be in this title. Despite the presence of a lot of important characters, it is relatively rare that you get to talk to other people, and when you do the nature of the discourse is heavily structured and devoid of a lot of branching options. Often you just give single word answers, most commonly “no,” and going through the interactions just becomes a chore. Given that much of what you hear involves deception, it is frequently hard to know how to process incoming information. Most importantly, you gain little insight from the conversations into the personalities of the people with whom you interact, so in the end the discourse seems to serve little purpose.
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