Clive Barker, for those of you who have been hiding for the past 20 years in the daylight, where he and his kind have no power, is a horror writer and filmmaker. His writing is a pale imitation of that of H P Lovecraft, though inestimably more turgid. His movies started with a version of Salomé on which he had the temerity to take a writer's credit alongside that notorious hack and paederast Oscar Wilde. These works then proceeded poorly with the massively over-rated (but not as massively over-rated as Donny Darko
. They then descended vertiginously quickly from that low origin, predominantly through inferior sequels to that movie. Everything the man produces reeks of the pit of damnation upon which he fixates. But horror fans, particularly the adolescent and undemanding variety, deify him.
So, when Jericho
hit my desk, I was torn. On the upside it was a new PS3 game, and we all know how rare and exciting they are right now. On the downside, it bore the stain of Barker's name.
Still... I am, after all, a professional (and the game comes from the usually reliable chaps at Codemasters), so I put my petty bite and spile away and began the task of reviewing Jericho
- if nothing else I wanted to see how it had progressed since SPOnG's initial preview - which you can read here
First, let me set the scene. I will also do this in a more descriptive manner than the game itself, which throws you through a rapid fire sequence of intro movie, poorly narrated cod-occult biblical clap trap and baffling dream sequence, and then straight into the field of action.
is a squad-based first-person shooter in the style made famous, and best represented, by Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
series of games. Given Rainbow Six's
supremacy in this market-space, publisher Codemasters, and developer Mercury Steam (do NOT breathe this stuff, it makes you go bald, and die) have elected to distinguish Jericho
by recruiting the services of Mr Barker. He has then grafted a storyline based on biblical gewgaws and para-psychological buffoonery onto the game. Clive clearly believes he can get away with this kind of thing in the wake of the Da Vinci Code's
As a result of Barker's story, your character, Captain Devin Ross, is part of some top secret religious crack(pot) squad of Para(psychological)troopers, whose mission is to something or other wherever evil rears its (invariably) ugly (and often snake-adorned) head.
This is not the first time Clive Barker has been involved in the production of video games. His previous flirtations with the genre, however, have been inauspicious. I am actually hard pressed to recall any of them since Nightbreed
on the Amiga; and despite the fact that one SPOnG staffer reviewed it for Amiga Format
magazine, I'm even hard pressed to remember that.
The problem with Barker is his lack of subtlety. One imagines his drafts are written in school exercise books in a selection of ink colours (predominantly red) with abundant underlining, and many words in capital letters. Possibly the covers of these books have the logos of prominent dark metal bands inscribed thereupon in biro. Regardless of whether this notion is accurate ? maybe Clive types his prose efficiently into a spotless MacBook Pro in a room antiseptic enough to unqualm the concerns of Howard Hughes himself - his work lacks deftness, and wants not for iteration, especially not for reiteration. Did I mention that the moon was gibbous and waning, or maybe waxing, I often confuse the two? see we can all ?do? Barker.
Back to the game? you and your motley squad of six Covert Occult Warriors are dropped into the Khali desert in some non-specific, but distinctly Arabian place called Al-Khali. The town is being assaulted by what appears to be a huge howling storm, but subsequently turns out to be a dimensional rift. Once out of your dropship, you have to find your way into a ruined tomb... and this is where the game begins to disappoint, frustrate and annoy - in fact, this is where the gameplay actually starts...