Jericho

I am a relativist in my critical methodology. I replace the idea of any inherent empirical value in a game with the idea that games can only be judged relative to their direct peers, which is why I can still think of games that were released two decades ago as being among the all-time greats. I mention great games at the start of this review for two reasons, 1) I like irony and 2) I like to remember that most games are not as bad as Clive Barker's Jericho. No matter how you cut it Jericho just doesn't measure up. When compared against Clive Barker's Undying, a moody and often frightening shooter, Jericho is consistently inferior, and when compared with games currently swarming gaming retailers, Jericho breaches some heretofore unknown barrier of inadequacy. Despite playing the game for "free" on Gametap for, I admit, a paltry sum of four or five irretrievable hours, I find myself daydreaming of bringing litigation against Codemasters in small-claims court for pain and suffering and negligence.

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/Jericho1-1.thumbnail.jpg)

I admit, it's fun to write mean reviews about bad games, and if I were you, I'd brace for some hyperbole in the coming paragraphs, because frankly I just need to let some hate go. Not since Vanguard: Saga of Heroes have I so regretted an installation, which is partly a function of Jericho itself and equally a function of how many better games I could've spent those five hours playing.

Jericho's engine is often impressive and appealing, while its art direction and level design are the exact opposite. Jericho is less like being frightened and vulnerable as it is having your least favorite person walk into your office and dump a bucket of pig's blood over your head. Presumably someone at Codemasters, or judging by some of his previous efforts maybe even Clive Barker himself, decided that blood is scary, and metric tons of blood is therefore really really scary. Even the main menu, which offers a dirty knife as a cursor and a background of rotting flesh with flies coming out of it, sets a tone for the game not unlike the feeling one might have after hunting for a rotting bag of diseased biomass in a septic tank. The fact that the visual engine is so impressive is, in this rare case, unfortunate. It is, one could say, gore-geous.

What precisely makes Jericho such a disappointment? Let me count the ways. Begin with terrible level design composed of little more than a series of bleak corridors painted from the scatological end of the brown pallet through which you proceed, encounter waves of respawning bullet-sponges, and then are rewarded with a saved game and an inexplicable supply of ammo and health. Wash, rinse, repeat. The game doesn't become predictable, it starts as predictable and degrades into relentless redundancy. You may also give your AI controlled squad very basic orders such as, hold in a tight formation so that you may all be blown to bits as one or move forward in a tight formation so that you may all be blown to bits as one. Fortunately friendly fire is an option, so you can save everyone some trouble and just shoot your entire squad right before the monster closets open hastening the sweet release of death.

And, let us not be quick to forget the inclusion of ever fun-dwindling quicktime events. These nuggets of entertainment awkwardness have become a staple of creatively bankrupt gameplay devices, and Jericho is obviously prime real estate for such a loathsome concept. Awkwardly implemented, the idea of quicktime events on a PC game seem as out of place as trying to manage a spreadsheet file on a PS2, though I suppose it might be difficult to otherwise implement genius moments such as dodging vomit from an undead zombie nazi dominatrix. Oh, how I wish I were joking.

Perhaps I might have been more forgiving had I played on a console instead of my PC, because this game is built from the ground up as a title to be played with controller in hand and vomit bag by your side. Auto-saving at checkpoints, botched mouse and keyboard controls, tedious menus, confined and painfully small levels, there's nothing about Jericho that fits the PC FPS model. Even the primary weapon fire is inexplicably mapped by default to the right mouse button, while grenades or sniper shots are mapped to the left. Sure, you can change it, but it serves as some kind of weird metaphor for the game's odd ability to botch even the fundamentals of modern gameplay.

I suppose I should say something about the admittedly interesting gameplay concept of switching from character to character, each with different powers of varying usefulness from "˜always play this character' to "˜why does this guy even have a job'? In a better game, such a feature might have been desirable or at least described as a saving grace, but in Jericho an otherwise viable gameplay conceit is already eclipsed and hamstrung by the rest of the game. While each character that you can jump to and from tends to be well matched against certain enemies or environments, you'll find, should you be forced at gunpoint to play Jericho, that one or two adequately handle most situations and probably invest the majority of your time in them. Overall it's an interesting concept I look forward to seeing in a better game.

As a whole, if you like Clive Barker's overtly Gothic sensibilities wrapped in a layer of grime covered flesh, then piles of disemboweled bodies in dimly lit corridors might seem like a good décor through which to slog, but the game is so overloaded with constant disappointment I can't even will myself to half-heartedly recommend Jericho for Barker fans or the mentally disturbed. It's a trainwreck of a game, and you'd probably have more fun on a field trip to a slaughterhouse.

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/Jericho4-1.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/Jericho2-1.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/Jericho3-1.thumbnail.jpg)

Comments

Ugh. Did you really just type "Gore-geous"? Ugh. Lethal level of pun.

Cramps wrote:

Ugh. Did you really just type "Gore-geous"? Ugh. Lethal level of pun.

I think Elysium shows tremendous restraint here. With a Jersey accent, it'd be pronounced "gore-juice," which is even punnier and truly, truly disgusting.

I beat Jericho the other day on Gametap as well. I didn't think it was the second coming and it is a very mediocre game but I enjoyed it anyway. I am a whore for games of this type though.

It's like the Halo levels with the Flood, except more boring. And that's the entire game.

Nyles wrote:
Cramps wrote:

Ugh. Did you really just type "Gore-geous"? Ugh. Lethal level of pun.

I think Elysium shows tremendous restraint here. With a Jersey accent, it'd be pronounced "gore-juice," which is even punnier and truly, truly disgusting.

I was tempted to call it literary "pun-ishment" of the audience.

Cramps wrote:

I was tempted to call it literary "pun-ishment" of the audience.

Ohh thats good.

You know, it's funny that you mention Jericho and its faults. Today I was hanging out with some friends discussing the game, and I kept thinking how much better it would have been if they had just expanded their palette somewhat. Amateurish color direction. The AI is fine, but not smart. I would hazard a guess that each member has a way point designated for them around each bend, and they go there regardless of flying debris, bullets or anything lethal. As far as level design, I never once felt like I was heading anywhere important, just that I had to go somewhere to make the story move along.

This game has "Amateur" written all over it.

Sephirotic wrote:

The AI is fine, but not smart. I would hazard a guess that each member has a way point designated for them around each bend, and they go there regardless of flying debris, bullets or anything lethal.

Ugh. The worst part about your squad AI is that they almost always seem to prefer being right beside the bad guy they're attacking, including the ones who blow up when they die.

This game has been staring me in the face every time I start Steam, tempting me to purchase.

I've read other lukewarm reviews, but this clinches it. Thanks for the heads up Ely.

Maybe I'll get VTM:Bloodlines instead. I started it shortly after it came out, then lost the CDs in the shuffle of moving from one house to another.

Sure hope Roger Ebert doesn't come across this game...

Jericho is not what I'd call a good game, but it does offer a few glimmers of quality here and there:

- The concept and writing really have Clive Barker's stamp on them. It's been a while since I played Undying, but my feeling is that, for better or worse, Jericho is much more of a "Clive Barker" game than Undying was. If you are a fan of Barker's writing (I am) this makes the game a little more bearable.

- The soundtrack by God of War composer Cris Velasco is a bit over the top but very well done.

- The engine, as mentioned, runs well and has some cool stuff built into it. The depth of field effect is neat. It's too bad they didn't build some more interesting levels, but the game still occasionally looks really good.

- The power to kill a yak from 200 yards away with mind bullets. If only they had included a yak. Seriously, though, the mind bullet thing is neat.

I guess overall I can still feel somewhat positive about the game because of the above things and because I'm playing it via Gametap and didn't drop $50 on it. If I had dropped $50 I'd probably be pretty bitter.

Podunk wrote:

Jericho is not what I'd call a good game, but it does offer a few glimmers of quality here and there:

I also liked the "psychic" squad change. Yes, it could have been utilized better, but at least they tried. Most games that include the ability to change squad members seems to have little relevance, and you usually just play the entire game using the one you like all the time. There are some moments, and even boss fights, where it's necessary for you to understand the different powers. Still, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless it was $20 or you had a Gametap subscription.

PyromanFO wrote:

It's like the Halo levels with the Flood, except more boring.

I didn't think the universe could possibly support something more boring than that. Oh wait...right, the library levels in the first game. It's a shame this game is getting panned for hte most part because it seemed to have a lot of potential and I did like the demo. This was #3 in the rental queue for the 360 but I'll probably just try it on GameTap instead (though the demo ran liek ass on my PC.) The thing that always made me look at the game with a bit of skepticism was that the owners of the property are two companies who specialize in creating licensed IP (never a good sign) and that it was developed by this obscure studio from Spanish whose only other title is American McGee's Scrapland. Yeah. Clive, seriously dude just so Undying II.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

I didn't think the universe could possibly support something more boring than that. Oh wait...right, the library levels in the first game. It's a shame this game is getting panned for hte most part because it seemed to have a lot of potential and I did like the demo.

If you liked the demo you'd probably enjoy the full game.

I just wanted to say that the puns in this thread wounds my soul. Thank you for giving me a taste of what the game feels like.

I'm still waiting for the game Jericho to sue the TV show Jericho or some other way around.

shihonage wrote:

I'm still waiting for the game Jericho to sue the TV show Jericho or some other way around.

Knowing nothing about either, I have to admit that until rightnow, I thought they were related.

shihonage wrote:

I'm still waiting for the game Jericho to sue the TV show Jericho or some other way around.

But I think that's why the game is called Clive Barker's Jericho.

Also, Jericho was the name of a city. That alone would make it hard to copyright, let alone that the name's a fairly common allusion.

wordsmythe wrote:

Also, Jericho was the name of a city. That alone would make it hard to copyright, let alone that the name's a fairly common allusion.

You probably meant trademark, not copyright.

I am disappointed that nobody mentioned you could march around the city and have the walls crumble down.

Speak it, brother.

nossid wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Also, Jericho was the name of a city. That alone would make it hard to copyright, let alone that the name's a fairly common allusion.

You probably meant trademark, not copyright.

That too.

fangblackbone wrote:

I am disappointed that nobody mentioned you could march around the city and have the walls crumble down.

You'll need some sort of musical instrument, preferably a brass horn of some kind.

I had this from Gamefly.

I could not possibly agree more.

It's awful in pretty much every way.

It's funny how some games like Jericho can have such differing reception. I was just reading on Penny Arcade how Tycho loved it.

wordsmythe wrote:

Also, Jericho was the name of a city. That alone would make it hard to copyright, let alone that the name's a fairly common allusion.

There's still a city there.

I wanted a Clive Barker game. I bought a Clive Barker game. I enjoyed a Clive Barker game.

Then again, I stare strangely at people addicted to Viva Pinata. Maybe if they made Clive Barker's: Viva Pinata, I would enjoy it also.

I have such sights to show you little pinata. No tears, they are just a waste of sweet suffering.

Let's just say that if this game was released in '95 it would have been mind blowing. I think people are just sick of first person shooters.

subaltern wrote:

Let's just say that if this game was released in '95 it would have been mind blowing. I think people are just sick of first person shooters.

Nah. People seem to like Bioshock, Orange Box and CoD4 just fine, and the Crysis demo has generated some nice buzz. It's just that Jericho is a C-grade production next to those games. I don't think it's as bad as people are saying, and I am enjoying it well enough for what it is, but it can't hold a candle to the AAA FPS releases this year.

LightBender wrote:

I have such sights to show you little pinata. No tears, they are just a waste of sweet suffering.

Pure gold.

I liked it. I played through the whole thing and was never bored. The checkpoint system sucked but the levels weren't that long. The graphics are nice and the character switching aspect was a cool enough wrinkle.