Return of the Phantom (DOS)

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Developed by
Released
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72
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.5
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  MAT (155336)
Written on  :  Aug 21, 2002
Rating  :  3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars

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Summary

First person adventure from the third person perspective (did anybody got this?).

The Good

No, this is not some simulation of Phantom F4 or any other plane for that matter. In fact, there's no single plane in the game, cars yes, but not planes. So, what is it then, you ask? Well, it's an adventure which is just one of those inspired by the classics of the SCUMM and tried to create unique yet full of cliches atmosphere. Well, maybe I had some close encounters with some operas (as a building, not an act), or was weak on some high pitched female vocal in some of my previous lives, beats me, but I could always easily immerse myself into the events that breathed medievil and were full of classical mysteries. But one thing I never expected from such a simple detective-like story, a nicely adjusted set of twists. Traveling back in time, impersonating two somehow connected characters, being in love with two same women, connecting events from the past and the present, and meeting long time deceased people (ingame characters).

The game holds many elements and details on the same place, which increases do-what-you-want possibility, but decreases the exploration places (though that opera house is huge, it'll be long enough, don't you worry), and the fact that there'll be two timelines of playing on the same place will make everything twice as large, and add twice as more characters. Oh, and I didn't mention all those canals and secret hallways that exceed the borders of movement, now did I?

Now, there is a CD-ROM release of this game which consists of only one thing extra - voiceovers. I usually don't care how bad or good the voiceacting is, I just want to have some, and just when I think of some older games which also additionally added voiceovers (like Indy IV or Kyrandia), I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. The voice acting in this game is really okay, but the fact is that I wouldn't much mind if they'd be not, so I may not be the right one to listen on this account. The background music is really nice, and it nicely suspense the atmosphere even though most (if not all) of pieces are classical tunes.

But why would this game attract me so much, is it because of opera house? Because of voiceovers? Naaw, I don't think so. It was because of touching and interesting love story, which seemed so real, so natural, and although it didn't finish as expected (in order to save yourself, you had to die again, so... just don't try to understand), certain parts of the story left a nice memorable scar. Ya know, it doesn't take the hole game to be good in order for game to be good. Sometimes, it's simply enough to have a few memorable moments that may mark it as a part which you wouldn't wish you skipped.

The Bad

I took an oath that I'll never write anything against any game. No, just joking, the answer is actually much more simple, I don't have anything to write against this game. I can only add that I liked it even more because of such easy puzzles that if you finished some of LucasArts' games without peeking in some walkthrough, you could finish this one with your eyes closed. Man, what a great game indeed this is.

Additional note: it might've been much more mysterious and interesting if the phantom wouldn't end up unmasked. This somehow defeats the mystery itself.

The Bottom Line

There were two reasons I bought this game (which by the way didn't work swell as a floppy version, until I later got myself CD-ROM version with voiceovers), one is the price (for 3 bucks only) and the other was that I'm a sucker when it comes to operas (not listening to them, but just as a place of events). The game also perfectly fitted my beloved genre of 3rd-person point-and-click adventures with nice dialogues, some characters, and mysterious and loving story. The fact is, this game may be old, and it cannot be measured to some nowadays stuff, but it definitely raises up to the level of LucasArts classics, and basically surpases most of them (except Indy IV, of course, which is simply unsurpasable piece of magic). This is not the type of game that I (or anybody else for that matter) should recommend to someone, as it may is definitely not as appealing by any of the factors it carries, but to the certain people (or so I've got the impression while playing it, that most people would most likely enjoy Monkey Island or Full Throttle or Legend of Kyrandia that this MicroProse scrappy old title), and I can only say that this little game definitely surpassed everything I though it will not. For me it is a masterpiece, as for you... there's no other way but to try and hope to like the setting.