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SummaryLike a "B" movie that should've been released in the 90s
The GoodMost reviewers of Conspiracies put a veil over the fact that this is a lousy game from an inexperienced company using old technology. That said, let's see what I think that company did right.
I played the English CD-ROM version which is packaged in the box with the DVD-ROM version. After installation, the first disc is only needed to verify ownership of it. I never noticed disc being accessed during gameplay.
The interface is what I would call "bare bones" - simple and easy. One-touch keyboard keys are used for saving games and accessing the simplistic main menu. There is no limit to the number of games you can save. Your saved games are identified with a snapshot of your exact location with the date and time. The mouse is used for direction and interaction, while the arrow keyboard keys actually move your character. Touch your spacebar to see the inventory items, which can be combined and manipulated (somewhat), but have no on-screen descriptions.
"Down on his luck" Nick Delios, your character, is a balding, poorly dressed PI living in a shabby apartment. Nick's personality is light-hearted, even when the going gets tough. Some of his comments throughout the game are very entertaining and even made me laugh out loud.
Besides Nick's humorous, tongue-in-cheek comments, I suppose it was the story that kept me playing until the end. Set in the somewhat distant future with a science fiction atmosphere, the case evolves gradually and gets more intense as you near the finish. The characters could have been set in any time period - drug lords and their gang of thugs, a hard-working and somewhat helpful policeman and several women from different sides of the tracks. Eventually Nick must save the world from a high level syndicate comprised of seemingly legitimate big business owners and corrupt government officials.
The puzzles themselves are all based on inventory objects and fairly easy. Some are really cute and show real imagination. For instance, in the very beginning of the game you'll figure out a way to make coffee, even though Nick's water has been turned off.
I liked the music, especially the "live" performance of the rock band, which reminded me of ZZ Top. Sound effects were minimal, but adequate.
The ending cutsceen provides a satisfying conclusion, even hinting to a sequel. I also enjoyed the "bloopers" during the scrolling credits.
The BadHere are the things that I found lacking, from the worst to the least.
Low Budget, Inferior Quality Graphics
-- The Full Motion Video cut scenes have the look of a fuzzy "B Movie".
-- Interactive scenes and objects are flat and pixelated (more 1D than 2D).
Click and Wait
-- Loading a game or a location takes as long as 2 minutes. This is especially irritating after you've died for the umpteenth time. (Yes, you can die in this game!)
-- Finding a "flat" object in between 2 closely placed "flat" pieces of furniture is painful, especially since you can't adjust your angle very well.
Lost in Translation
-- Greeks must talk faster than English-speaking folk because the "dubbing" was spoken so rapidly that I missed half of what was said.
-- Questions in the dialog interaction didn't quite convey exactly what you were going to ask.
Obvious Programming Errors
-- You can get stuck in a narrow section of the graphics (in between a chair and the wall, for instance) with no recourse but to load a saved game and redo.
-- While exploring one area, walls are not solid (even though they're supposed to be). If you're not careful, you'll walk straight through them.
-- Only 27 object slots. Dropping items to free up slots is not as easy as it could have been.
The Bottom LineWe must remember that development of this game began in 1998, but it wasn't released until 2003. Many technology changes happened in those 5 years, but it seems that Anime Ppd ignored them. Rather than feeling "retro", the whole game comes across as a poorly designed, and poorly programmed, product. Of course, I played it in 2005, so maybe my standards are higher now too.
Like the Prologue of a great novel, games must grab the attention of their audience during the opening scenes and the first chapter of gameplay. Well, Conspiracies is one of those games that doesn't lure you into it from the get-go. Many players will uninstall it in frustration before the story has had a chance to fully develop.
Would I recommend it? Well .. possibly. But be aware of its shortcomings. I would suggest that you have a walkthrough handy simply because of the hidden objects and the long loads.