Reviews// Clive Barker's Jericho

Posted 24 Oct 2007 19:14 by
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) Hellraiser. 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.

Jericho 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 runaway success.

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...
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Comments

Fugue 28 Oct 2007 08:22
1/6
Is this a review of Jricho or an excuse to rant about not liking Barkers stuff? the writer seems to spend only about a quarter of the review talking about the game and even then keeps on obsessing over the story instead than the gameplay
mandy 28 Oct 2007 21:44
2/6
Fair point.. but judging from other reviews it does sound rather stodgy and bland in the gameplay department. For some reason codies external dev titles seem to be a bit naff generally.. The only genuinely good external games that I can remember published by them were Flashpoint and 2nd sight.. (I havent played the Middle Earth online title) and how long ago was that? Internally its like they can only do racing/footy sequals these days.. Im not saying reviving classics isnt bad.. but to do it every year or two is a bit sad.. and hardly genius at play. Oops, I've wandered off topic..
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mrjimmy 29 Oct 2007 00:55
3/6
Hard to take the review seriously when the writer is so full of crap

e.g. "that notorious hack and paederast Oscar Wilde."
Dyson you really are ignorant (or desperately attention seeking) and homophobic. Maybe you should stop pretending to be a journo and go work for the Sun. Or try to make better use of your arts degree by writing porn?

Gay=child molester is such a tired old prejudice. Wilde?s lover Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas) was 22 when they met ? he was hardly a ?boy-lover?. Of course you were probably just having a dig at Barker who is gay. How about throwing in some racism too? But you haven't got the balls because you'd lose your 'job' for that.....

Apparently "The problem with Barker is his lack of subtlety". Pots and kettles eh Dyson? Whilst Wilde had talent, and Barker certainly knows success, I'd guess you possess neither. That might explain why your review reads like the babbling of a bitter, pompous drama queen who?s swallowed a thesaurus. Grow up.
PreciousRoi 29 Oct 2007 04:05
4/6
meh, seems like a fairly balanced review, these anonymous idjits need to get off yer nutz.

as far as the story goes....everything seems derivative and utterly predictable these days anyway, even the "twists". codemasters probably didn't expect much in the way of story, nor is much neccessary. they prolly paid him for the name to hang on it.

DoctorDee 31 Oct 2007 21:36
5/6
mrjimmy wrote:
Hard to take the review seriously when the writer is so full of crap

I am full of crap, but no moreso than the average person, and certainly no more than you.

e.g. "that notorious hack and paederast Oscar Wilde."
Dyson you really are ignorant (or desperately attention seeking) and homophobic.

I suspect that I am far less ignorant than you sumise. But possibly far more attention seeking.

Your screed seems to show that you do not know the meaning of paederast, or that you confuse it with paedophile.

Maybe you should stop pretending to be a journo and go work for the Sun. Or try to make better use of your arts degree by writing porn?

That's interesting. What makes you think I have an arts degree? Are you perhaps someone who knows me?

Gay=child molester is such a tired old prejudice.

But Oscar was not gay. The fact that he had children should attest to that.

And paederast does not mean paedophile. And you really should know that before you embark on a criticism based on that premise.

Wilde?s lover Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas) was 22 when they met ? he was hardly a ?boy-lover?.

I was not alluding to Wilde's affair with Douglas, but instead to his self confessed - nay, self proclaimed - paederasty. You can deny it all you like, but Wilde was a paederast. History stands with me, not you. At least Time Magazine believes so. That dubious source, Wikipedia, too.

Of course you were probably just having a dig at Barker who is gay.

Oh, don't be ridiculous! Why should I rib Barker for being gay, which is perfectly acceptable, when I can far easier rib him for being a poor and tedious writer?

How about throwing in some racism too? But you haven't got the balls because you'd lose your 'job' for that...

If I want to be racist, I can do so without fear for my job. But I am not racist, just as I am not homophobic, and I will be lured into neither for your entertainment.

Apparently "The problem with Barker is his lack of subtlety". Pots and kettles eh Dyson?

But I am writing video games reviews, a genre that does not benefit much from subtlety. He is writing horror, a genre that does.

Whilst Wilde had talent, and Barker certainly knows success, I'd guess you possess neither.

Then you'd guess wrong. But I'd have guessed you would.

tt_rage 9 Nov 2007 12:14
6/6
"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 dunno - I thought Undying was pretty damn good entertainment. And a quick trip to www.gamerankings.com shows an average review of around 85 to 90%, so I suppose I'm not alone in that camp.

Past examples suggest a "celebrity" attached to a game simply provides a broad story arc, the occasional snippet of dialog and a casual glance over content to make sure he or she is happy with how his/her intellectual property is being used. And then they walk off with the first 200 grand of the profit the game makes.

If a game is poorly realised or cliche-ridden it can't always be laid squarely at the foot of just one individual (unless that inividual was a power-mad meglomanic of a project director who didn't take anyone else's view on board). Unless Clive Barker was micro-managing the direction of the game down to the setpieces, the level design, the lighting, the sound effects, the weapon accuracy, etc etc etc, all he's probably guilty of is cashing in on his name.

Just one more thing - video games development is a team sport. If a game is a success, that success is it's down to every artist, every programmer, every tester, every producer, marketing guy, sound technician and musician who put their life into it for two long, hard years. In the same way, a failure means the blame has to be spread around a bit, from the guy who didn't get the lightning weapon effects quite right, to the musician who decided a heavy guitar track was the right way to go, to the audio engineer who didn't ask the voice actor for just one more take.

If Jericho had been a top-notch 98% rated galaxy-blowing game, would you have said it was all down to Clive Barker's involvement?
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