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Fahrenheit


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#1 RL666

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 07:37 PM

Written for fun a few months back and presented now for your perusal. Contains spoilers. Enjoy!

Fahrenheit is a fascinating and valuable experiment, though clearly a deeply flawed one. On a basic technical level, there's tons of stuff wrong with it. Character movement is hilariously clumsy, and the decision not to make direction commands correspond to new camera angles until you release the stick is just baffling. It ran like a piece of shit on my PS2 (though that may have been because I was playing it in PAL-50), crashing once and stuttering unattractively for much of the rest of the time. The dialogue is often terrible, and the plot starts strongly but goes utterly, horrifyingly bonkers about three-quarters of the way through.
And yet, for four or five hours, I was utterly gripped. Stuff like this shouldn't work. It should not be possible to take something which, if it were a movie, would be beyond execrable, and make it into a videogame which has almost no real gameplay to speak of, yet is still engrossing and emotional. It shows that games have a certain unique potential as a storytelling medium: the mere act of interaction - even interaction as relatively shallow and token as that found in Fahrenheit - forces from the player a kind of emotional investment that they could never have with a 90-minute movie, or even a novel.
Fahrenheit's characters are stereotypes, worst of all Tyler: a black man who has a 70s-retro-chic apartment and who gets followed around everywhere by his own personal elevator-funk backing track. In Carla, it's good to see a strong, smart female lead in a videogame, especially one who favours combats and a sensible, woollen polo-neck over the usual skimpy attire - but even she doesn't escape needless sexualisation in the form of an embarrassingly gratuitous shower sequence. The sex scene - or at least the Lucas / Carla one which I saw, apparently managing to bypass two others - wasn't as badly handled as I'd been led to expect, aside from Carla's dodgy spray-on nips. At the very least, it was a pioneering improvement on standard videogame depictions of sexuality (or just as frequently, their prudish avoidance thereof).
About the much-maligned QTEs, I'm in two minds. Sometimes they work well, such as during Lucas' hypnosis sequence, where they do a good job of 'simulating' his concentration. They're at their weakest during the ridiculous Matrix-fanfic combat sequences*, due to the fact that a- they're interminable, b- the directional prompts bear no apparent relation to the onscreen action and c- you have to give so much attention to them that you can't absorb the action properly.
And some of the things the game does are just sublime. Picture-in-picture is used to exquisite effect in creating mood, building tension and conveying information to the player. Choices which you make (particularly, it must be said, near the start of the game), despite the jibes, affect later events with a subtlety and organic-ness you could never replicate in a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Like Shenmue, it's the taking-part in the minutiae of your characters' lives which helps form your bond with them: making them get up, making them shower and get dressed, making them dance with (and apparently shag, though they weren't having any of it when I was playing) their girlfriends or pass the time of an evening with their gay next-door-neighbours.
And just like everyone else, I hated the way it went bonkers in its last two hours. The eighteen-day time-lapse was communicated abysmally, and the pointless 'Lucas-is-dead' stuff just served to make the sex-scene highly weird (I kept thinking that it can't be much fun getting penetrated by a man whose willy resembles an icicle).
So. Not one of the best games Iíve played recently, but certainly one of the most interesting.

6/10

*(Incidentally, the bit where Lucas goes all 'Matrix' initially pissed me off, but also resulted in perhaps the game's single best piece of dialogue: when the police chief is bawling out Tyler and Carla, they tell him that Lucas escaped because he turned out to have 'special powers', and he replies with an exasperated: 'So... he's Superman? That's your excuse?!' I thought it was a lovely line and it raised a genuine, warm chuckle.)

EDIT: apologies for the lack of paragraph-indentations, I C&Ped this from Word and I'm not sure how to fix it...
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#2 johnj

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 09:32 PM

ahah, ive just wrote that exact same review, except I don't think it even deserves a 6.

Didn't grip me at all, I thought it was entirely laughable.

Fahrenheit

They said that his was going to push things forward. They said this was a moment for games, indepth analysis of the human condition, glitter said “this won't hurt a bit.” Liars, one and all. Cosmetic details first. The animation makes the characters look like they're from Thunderbirds, juddering with strangely animated faces, that looks like their having some sort of difficulty getting their features to do what they want, so they're grimmacing pretty much all the time. Occasionally they grimace with their mouth open. With fairly bland texturing and a grey pallet (kind of unavoidable given it's snowing all the time) but it reminded me of Urban Chaos from many years back. It'd be too lazy to say that the graphics were limited by it's multiplatform release as even the lowest common denominator PS2 has shown it can make things well, prettier than this. There's some horrific bullet time sequences that look absolutely terrible because of the poor animation too. Sometimes the screen splits into a number of windows showing different angles, I think this is supposed to be cinematic but it fails (and causes more headaches in navigation) and just seems gimmicky.

You control the characters with a dual analog stick, the left stick for moving, the right selects a variety of actions according to context. why didn't they just use arrows? Arrows! The icons are never perfectly clear as to what you're supposed to be doing so sometimes you just have to guess that he's going to do the action you want to do. Controlling the characters is often somewhat of a nightmare because of the camera angles and the controls failure to change according to where the camera is positioned, which makes things very difficult. This control mechanism runs into the dialogue to, where you might have to select from a choice of “CAT – LIFE? - VICTIM – BAR TENDER” and more often than not the lead words give very little clue as to what the conversation is actually going to be about. And the dialogue. It's terrible, b movie guff. One example that shines in my mind is when our character beats another at basketball and the height of his wit is this...”Maybe you could take up another game...CHESS!” HOHOHO! The poorly written script is also mirrored by the poorly written, stereotyped characters. Two detectives, one a straight talking woman, the other a don't play by the rules black guy. And when you play as this character, the backing track is funk music. His pad is also decked as if he actually were James Brown. Seriously. Insight into the human psyche. Right. Presumably this “insight” comes at one of two points when it asks you to make a life changing decision for the characters. Or when spoiler two of the characters suddenly lunge into passionate intercourse with no prior warning. The story goes completely haywire at the end, budget or no budget constraints, it's laughable. An old lady turns into some strange AI and a previously invincible character is taken out with a magnum.

The “game” itself consists of hitting the analog sticks in time with not music, not on screen events, but rather little flashing lights at the bottom. There's a dancing section where they fail to even try and get the analog pointing in time, it's utterly worthless as a control scheme. Throw into the mix several button bashing sequences and the levels of boredom playing this skyrocket. Then there's the games of hide and seek, looking for things in your own apartment, to a time limit. Or getting two characters dressed and ready for work. What fun! Because the characters are all so laughable put together there's never any sense of caring about them, especially when they're all so infuriating to navigate around the world. Another aspect of the game are very boring stealth sections, that feel to create any sense of excitement at all when the worst thing that will happen to you is...having to do it all over again after being sent back to your room. Although that dread is sometimes sufficient to make you pay attention first time.

Are there any plus points? Near the start, there is a bit that makes you jump, and the promise of a good story (that's never made good on) is just about sustained under the weight of the non-game. The music to the game, aside from the pitiful funk, is actually excellent. Very subtle and is one of the few reasons why I kept playing. Writing about your hate of it to friends will also increase the likelihood if you being able to finally spell “Fahrenheit” too.
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#3 parrapatheslapper

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 04:50 PM

Got to be honest , this actually did grip me by the balls and is one of the few games I actually finished last year (along with RE4 and SOC)

Great game for just sitting down with the mrs and playing through, and i thought the story was cool although a little far fetched in places. but on saying that arent some of the best hollywood films the same?
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#4 essell

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 02:37 PM

I thought it was flawed in a lot of ways - clearly the third act was a shower of shit - but still more interesting in its experiments than 95% of other videogames released that year. Definitely not a game that is well described by a score out of ten.
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#5 Lorfarius

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 11:34 PM

I really, really loved this game at the beginning. Right up until the park its really interesting and differnent. Then it just descends into random button mashing that doesnt even match up to onscreen events. Pish.
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#6 JoeK

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 11:20 PM

To be honest, the game pretty much blew its load on the first cafe bit (which was a demo as well). It never really lived up to the choices given out in that first bit.

But, the music was wonderful, and it definitely was worth playing through.

I'm looking forward to whatever the new game's gonna be called - the 3d sequence with the woman with huge teeth was fab.
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#7 Keyboard Koala

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 12:59 AM

So, it's no good this one? PC Gamer (esp. KG) seem to rate it rather high though...
I picked it up brand new for a fiver today and I must say, I'm about 4-hours in, and this really seems like a unique if not great gaming experience. Glad to see some developers try and tackle some more mature and fleshed out storylines. But in these days of Bioshock, who cares eh...? B) Prolly gonna save this for some cold Winter evening :(
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#8 Shindig

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 06:41 AM

I think it's great. Problem being the story going really, really off the rails and the Simon Says sections meaning you can't enjoy the action sequences.
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#9 dw2k6

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 08:25 AM

Was good up until the part where you have to fight giant dust mites.
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#10 Shindig

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 12:08 PM

I could put up with it until the reanimated corpse turned out to be a puppet of David Bowie's imagination as a tool to get hold of an autistic dullard child. Whilst some monks were making people stab other people at random.

And the necrophilia. Ewwwww.
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#11 Keyboard Koala

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 12:12 AM

I could put up with it until the reanimated corpse turned out to be a puppet of David Bowie's imagination as a tool to get hold of an autistic dullard child. Whilst some monks were making people stab other people at random.

And the necrophilia. Ewwwww.


David Bowie?? Are we talking about the same game here? Or are you confusing this with the Nomad Soul?
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#12 Space Renegade Ulala

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 12:29 AM

I just got this cheap last week and was mostly enjoying it for all its faults. Then I got to some dreadful stealth section just after Lucas 'dies' at the rollercoaster and gave up after 50 attempts at sneaking past the guards with preternatural detection abilities. No matter what I tried, the fuckers always saw me. Pah.
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#13 Keyboard Koala

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 12:44 AM

I just got this cheap last week and was mostly enjoying it for all its faults. Then I got to some dreadful stealth section just after Lucas 'dies' at the rollercoaster and gave up after 50 attempts at sneaking past the guards with preternatural detection abilities. No matter what I tried, the fuckers always saw me. Pah.


Now, this I don't like... The army base was bad enough... :) And, this is worse I suppose?
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#14 Space Renegade Ulala

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 11:27 AM

It's Son of Army Base, only this time it's at night with massive big spotlights. I've given up for the time being.
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#15 Shindig

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 12:22 PM

David Bowie?? Are we talking about the same game here? Or are you confusing this with the Nomad Soul?


Ziggy Stardust, man. The alien looks like Ziggy Stardust.
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#16 Keyboard Koala

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 12:54 AM

It's Son of Army Base, only this time it's at night with massive big spotlights. I've given up for the time being.


:)

Tsk, back to the Ness with you Lochy... Seriously, I'm not even going to bother now. Or maybe only when I'm really, really bored...

I dunno what it is about French games, but I never found one that I (really) liked. BG&E, Rayman, Future Wars, The Nomad Soul... and now this. Somehow they always fuck it up by trying to be too much avant-garde imo.
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#17 Shindig

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 09:53 AM

I got around the stealth sections via walkthroughs. Is the second one the one where you save the fat kids from the fire?
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#18 uglifruit

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 12:47 AM

I used walkthroughs for the stealth too. Bloody annoying they were.

This 'game' is barely a game. And what the dickens was the story about at the end. Needlessly confusing. Control was either minimal or clumsy, depending on the section.

Yet...

Something about it was utterly gripping. The bits that hooked me, hooked me - and I finished it. Which is rare for me. Ico is, I think the only other game I've finished this year.

Everyone should play it. Cost £3 for the XBOX version it was easily worth that amount, and gave me at least ... £7's worth of entertainment.
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#19 johnj

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 11:40 PM

I can't believe Astillius enjoyed the interactions between the two characters.

I mean, the funk, in his ...pad...and the..basketball thing...I mean...

Deary doo.
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#20 essell

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 06:29 AM

I used walkthroughs for the stealth too. Bloody annoying they were.

This 'game' is barely a game. And what the dickens was the story about at the end. Needlessly confusing. Control was either minimal or clumsy, depending on the section.

Yet...

Something about it was utterly gripping. The bits that hooked me, hooked me - and I finished it. Which is rare for me. Ico is, I think the only other game I've finished this year.

Everyone should play it. Cost £3 for the XBOX version it was easily worth that amount, and gave me at least ... £7's worth of entertainment.

Aye. Regardless of it being flawed, it was pretty unique, and it was definitely onto something. Roll on Heavy Rain.
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