Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Emil Pagliarulo
Published: April 1, 1998
Los Angeles, 2019. It is a place of squalor and hopelessness, a city of filthy, rain soaked streets teeming with losers and lost souls. Day and night are but distant memories, replaced by a continual darkness broken only by towering video signs that beckon to a better, yet bitterly unobtainable, life off-world. If this dark, depressing cityscape seems familiar, it should — it has become the standard by which all other cyberpunk/futuristic environments are judged. Some might recognize it from science fiction author Philip K. Dick’s landmark novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? But to most of the world, this is the L.A. of director Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the dark, foreboding film based on Dick’s novel. Here, police blade runner units desperately track rogue androids whose presence on Earth is strictly outlawed, punishable by “retirement.” Known as replicants, they walk the dingy streets, undistinguishable from their flesh-and-blood counterparts. They are, in so many ways, more human than human.
Such is the backdrop for Westwood Studios’ Blade Runner, a real-time adventure game based on Ridley Scott’s gritty film. When the software giant first announced the title, the gaming community’s reaction was a state of subsequent shock and elation. For as surprised as gamers were that Westwood would decide to make a game based on a film first released over fifteen years ago, they were just as excited at the thought of traversing one of the most revered science fiction settings in recent history. Well, fans of the film are in for the time of their lives. Blade Runner the game is every bit as dark and exciting as Scott’s magnum opus. In fact, even if you’ve never seen the movie, chances are you’ll find Blade Runner as fun and intriguing as any other adventure game on the market today.
The player takes on the role of rookie cop Ray McCoy, an untested blade runner more accustomed to paper pushing and interviewing low-key nobodies than he is hunting down homicidal replicants. A dead-ringer for Harrison Ford’s Deckard character, McCoy is about to get his chance at some action. He’s finally been assigned to a case with some real promise, a multiple animal murder at a downtown pet shop. The callous destruction of any animal, in a world in which most animal species have become extinct, is almost unimaginable. It is an act beyond human comprehension, something that could only be committed by…replicants.
Right from the outset, Blade Runner mirrors the story and feel of the film, while at the same time striking off on its own. McCoy is, for all intents and purposes, a younger, more inexperienced Deckard. He wears the same clothes, sports the same haircut, lives in the same run-down apartment complex, and even offers Harrison Ford-like voiceover narration. Many of the game’s locations — like Police Headquarters, the Tyrell Corporation, and the Japanese fast food joint — were taken right out of the film. All of this serves to draw in fans of the movie, while at the same time offering newbies a chance to appreciate the full Blade Runner experience. The result is a detailed, thoroughly alive gaming world that seems familiar, yet at the same time mysterious and completely open to exploration.
The game begins with a gorgeously rendered cutscene of the confrontation at Runciter’s Animals between shop owner Runciter and Clovis, the homicidal, enigmatic, leader of the replicants. From there, McCoy is deposited onto the crime scene by his spinner hovercar, ready to take the reigns of the investigation. Using what has to be the easiest point-and-click interface to date, players jump into McCoy’s shoes full force, interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence, and otherwise inspecting the crime scene. From there, after a thorough bit of detective work, it’s back into the spinner and on to the rest of the game.
By hopping into the spinner, the player enters the main travelling interface, a digitized map of L.A. presented as a datapad within the hovercar itself. Certain locations, like Police Headquarters and McCoy’s apartment building, are instantly available, with others being added throughout the course of the game as clues are discovered and suspects interviewed. Travelling to a site is as simple as clicking on the map symbol, and once you do you’ll be treated to a cutscene of the spinner racing through the neon-lit buildings of L.A. You’ll spend a lot of time on the travel screen; not only does McCoy need to check out the various crime scenes, he’ll also have to return quite frequently to his apartment (to sleep and check his phone messages), and Police Headquarters (to talk to his commanding officer, Lieutenant Guzza, and take advantage of all the high-tech equipment and facilities).
Pages: 1 2 3