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The Cameron Files: Secret at Loch Ness (Windows)

62
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
2.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Jeanne (75634)
Written on  :  Dec 27, 2002
Rating  :  2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars
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Summary

No competition for Tex here!

The Good

The story in Loch Ness is intriguing and gradually evolves as you get deeper into the case. There's more to it than meets the eye, and Cameron eventually learns of a much deeper, evil plot which makes it interesting. It has nothing to do with the real fable about the Loch Ness monster, though, other than to provide another explanation about its sightings.

The point-and-click interface is easy to learn and use. The graphics were fairly good and, although the landscape was dreary in winter, the inside of the Manor was realistic enough. Some of the rooms (especially the attic) were a bit too dark for my liking. The characters were drawn creatively and a bit uniquely, but were not blocky or unrealistic. Lip-sync was done very well, their lips moving well with their words.

Nothing moves in the scenery, not even the water, even though you can hear water sounds when you are near the lake. There were a few other sound effects which were appropriate (the creaking of an old door opening, for instance). The music was distinctly Scottish and in keeping with the location and the overall theme of the game. It was nothing unusual, though, and did not break any new ground. You are given a few rewarding music clips when something important is accomplished, though. Voice acting was great! Cameron's voice was always a pleasure to listen to, and other Scotland "locals" had just the right amount of accent.

Some people complain about having "hot spots" when nothing can be done until much later in the game. Well, this game has plenty of that but all of them are needed to keep you on track. The story is divided into days and all of the hot spots you find during each particular day will eventually be done that day. All you have to do is accomplish them in a particular order, so the game is very linear.

Puzzles were almost too easy, as puzzles go, especially since Cameron almost comes out and tells you what to do next - either verbally or written in his journal. Picking up and using objects from inventory, solving cryptic puzzles (clues for which are in books and other documents) and, unfortunately, an underwater maze are all part of the questing. Some of the puzzles require a combination of objects in inventory to be solved.

The in-game map was nice to have. When specific actions were done and appropriate triggers occurred, you were able to hop to and from each location. Some of those triggers only happen when you are walking around, though, so you had to be careful not to use the map too often.

The Bad

What I found irritating about this game (and, I might add, others made by the same company during the last couple of years) mostly involve the basic interface:
1. There are only 8 game save slots and no way to save a description
2. You must listen carefully because there are no subtitles (One of my pet peeves.)
3. No adjustable options for anything (video, audio etc.)
4. You must always start the game from CD1 even though there are 2 CDs

Everything you do is in or around the Manor itself and those locations are very few and mostly empty of people. I would have liked more places to travel and many more people to question. The landscape is somewhat drab in its winter blanket of snow.

And, lastly, I dislike mazes that are inserted simply to lengthened playing time, which is what the one in this game seemed to be.

The Bottom Line

Once you get used to the game's shortcomings, Loch Ness is a pretty good adventure game, but definitely not a great one. The story kept me interested enough to finish it, and the ending was satisfactory enough to conclude the questions that were left hanging.