Review of Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient

Matt Barton's picture

Just a quick note--my review of Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express is now available. If you intend to buy the game, be sure to use the link below.

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Calibrator
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That game could've been better

It's not so much about what is there - it's about what isn't.

Murder in the Orient Express is one of my favourite Christie novels because of the setup, the atmosphere and the denouement at the end.
With the player possibly having this knowledge it's surely incredibly hard to design a game to follow that exactly and one could live with altercations to be able to play the thing. IMHO the whole plot feels "forced", however, and I was somewhat disappointed.

The render graphics are fine and atmospheric but one constantly wishes for more interactivity. And with constantly I mean that you often have to wander the same path as the train, naturally, is stuck. People outrightly refuse to talk with you, objects are IIRC hidden, unless you need them etc. In some pictures there isn't a single object to click on.
Some -welcomed- episodes outside the train are rather short and seem to be included somewhat hastily (the puzzles are easier than on the train) but at least they are there.

While I played the German version, I agree with the voice talents as they were done well, too, and the general capture of an Agatha Christie novel, especially one of the Poirot ones which tend to be slightly more amusing than the rest.
However, you don't play Poirot but one of those generic obstinate woman in adventure games for marketing reasons: Get those women to identify with them and those guys some female butt to look at (well, no butts here, of course, as the costumes are accurate). However, the character is at least carefully created to give the player access to most cabins etc.
Of course this is necessary as you really do the shitty legwork for Poirot.
If you do the clever thinking bit as well, Poirot judges you, always giving you the feeling that he already knows more than you.

In my eyes it's a mediocre adventure game and as a literary conversion it's barely acceptable. I didn't play other Christie conversions so I cannot say something about advances but I'd rather recommend one of the newer Sherlock Holmes games. They are not based on novels ("Silver Earring" for example) and therefore the designers have more freedom but one really feels like a detective there - even if you play Watson in some episodes.

take care,
Calibrator

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Matt Barton
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Yikes, I couldn't disagree

Yikes, I couldn't disagree with you more, Calibrator. I also have the Silver Earring game and thought it was so terrible I finally gave up trying to complete it. That's after having completing Nemesis, which I thought was mediocre. :) I guess tastes really are different with this sort of thing. That's no doubt why it's good to look at several reviews before committing yourself to a new game.

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
Variety
Matt Barton wrote:

That's no doubt why it's good to look at several reviews before committing yourself to a new game.

That is exactly the reason I posted my impressions with the game! ;-)

take care,
Calibrator

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Mark Vergeer
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David Suchet - Murder on Orient express

Cool that they managed to get David Suchet involved in the project. There is actually an interview out there on youtube. Here you go. The real voice of David is much lower than Poirot's so if you haven't seen David in one of his many other roles you might be in for a bit of a surprise. Elise and I are big fans of Poirot and David Suchet.

He says he is rather possessive of the character and just needed to be involved in the project he's been involved with for the best part of twenty years - especially now it is moving into a 'new direction'. Just watch it you'll like it.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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Great find, Mark. I loved

Great find, Mark. I loved that video!

No matter what some people say, I really think these games benefit from good voice acting. I remember those early games (cough - sierra) where they tried to use the developer team (or whoever was hanging around??) to do the voices, and yeah, that stank. I don't so much care if they are movie or TV stars, though, as long as they have the voice.

Indeed, I'd think videogames would be a great place for people to get good jobs with acting who don't necessarily look like the characters they are portraying. Lani Minella, for instance, is my favorite voice actor from the Nancy Drew series, yet I hadn't really seen her until I saw that photo. It just doesn't matter to the game, whereas I doubt she'd ever land the part in a movie or film.

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
Some examples
Matt Barton wrote:

No matter what some people say, I really think these games benefit from good voice acting. I remember those early games (cough - sierra) where they tried to use the developer team (or whoever was hanging around??) to do the voices, and yeah, that stank. I don't so much care if they are movie or TV stars, though, as long as they have the voice.

Absolutely!

I *love* proper voice work - the venerable Lucas Arts talkies like The Dig, Grim Fandango and especially Full Throttle were among the best I've ever heard and I still compare todays games with them.

I don't know how many people here know UltraNeko but her show on Youtube is getting more and more popular. She's also known to be a huge fan of Metal Gear Solid and David Hayter who dubs Solid Snake.
She did several videos of him and the MGS cast (and also John St. John of Duke Nukem) - this is probably the funniest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN2WkHLIweE

("CQC" = Close Quarter Combat ;-)

take care,
Calibrator

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Matt Barton
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I always like to calibrate a

I always like to calibrate a reviewer by first looking at what he or she said about things I personally liked or disliked. That's how I came to appreciate Reelviews and James Baradinelli. I hardly ever disagree with his assessments. However, other critics diss films I like or praise ones I hate. :)

I noticed early on that many supposedly unbiased review sites tend to heap praise on whatever the game-of-the-week is, and automatically trash anything that doesn't come out as a AAA title. I honestly think some of them just print the ad copy sent to them by the publisher. God only knows how many of them have never even played the games in question.

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
Economy
Matt Barton wrote:

I noticed early on that many supposedly unbiased review sites tend to heap praise on whatever the game-of-the-week is, and automatically trash anything that doesn't come out as a AAA title.

Simple explanation: They can't flog a triple-A-title when they hyped it for months. They even come up with the most bizarre arguments to not retract their statements like "It's very buggy but it still has me in its grasp!", "There is a special quality about it", "the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts" etc.

More differentiated expanation: Lots of people are interested about the title and they cover the game more comprehensively because they know that it brings more clicks. They also need a major title for their front cover or most prominent page spot. I assume that those titles also have better press kits which

It doesn't need a Gerstman to know that the publishers only decide economical and not humanitarian decisions.

Quote:

I honestly think some of them just print the ad copy sent to them by the publisher. God only knows how many of them have never even played the games in question.

Add to this sloppyness (lack of time and resources) and incompetence (lack of intelligence, knowledge and experience) and you get paraphrased press releases.

take care,
Calibrator

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Matt Barton
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LOL ,well I'm back to trying

LOL ,well I'm back to trying to solve the Silver Earring. Wife is working on a helluva soduko-like puzzle as I type this. :)

I'm hoping we won't have to consult any more hints.

Also am working on Penumbra, Overclocked, and a really neat-looking one called Enter the Book (Les Miserables). That last one is really ambitious and will hopefully satisfy. I have the new Nancy Drew game coming as soon as it's out--oh, boy. Nancy Drew and pirates! Don't see how that can possibly go wrong. I was playing a marvelous little game called Dream Chronicles: The Lost Child (or something like that), but my free trial wore out. My guess is that I will either pay the $7 or perhaps order a copy. I was very, very impressed with what I saw. I was also pleased with the World of Goo demo. That game looks great.

On the side, am playing Freedom Force and have ordered Oblivion and that newish Jonathan Boakes game about ghost hunting (Lost Crown, I believe is the title).

Hopefully all of this will keep me busy for awhile. Still not really feeling Team Fortress 2.

Still need to get up a review of Nancy Drew Dossier and Commodore Forever. :)

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