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SummaryTraitors Gate in France
The GoodThe Messenger is an obvious attempt at going for the same edutainment/adventure hybrid "success" as in Traitors Gate, a title released earlier that features a remarkable similarity to this game. Basically The Messenger uses the same Myst-like interface to navigate an historically important landmark (this time the Louvre museum in Paris) and you are cast as a special agent with a multi-purpose crossbow to have your fun in it.
The storyline is merely an excuse for you to experience the history of the museum. As I mentioned, you are some sort of secret agent whose now dead father warns her about a group of satanic devices that can destroy the world all hidden in different time periods in the Louvre by the dark templars. As luck would have it, there is a time portal hidden in the depths of the Louvre, and so your task is to journey to each time period and get the devices before someone else does.
As a masquerading edutainment product you would expect a wealth of historical information and you get it in the form of a full on-line chronology of the Louvre's life from it's begginings as a small keep to contemporary times, and the building has been methodically re-constructed for each time period (or so the developers say anyway).
The interface and mechanics have been slightly refined for this game, with less loading-heavy interludes, a bigger playing area and an overall faster place, as well as a helpful audio cue that pops up whenever you are in a puzzle-related screen and a use of more streamlined technologies that allow the game to run smoother under XP.
The BadTo say that the graphics are shitty is an understatement, the game is composed of panoramic still-images which are mercifully well modeled and textured, but every time you meet up with a character you'll cringe at the amateurish character design and poor detail. The main character herself looks like a transvestite, and the animation is so poor you'll swear that the developers never heard of such stuff as inverse kinematics for character animation.
Soundwise the music is poor and uninspired and only manages to annoy you whenever it makes it pops up, all the sfx have that dry "ripped from a library" sound quality, and there are other assorted technical mindfarts such as needing the first cd of the game always to run the game, no matter if you are on the second one.
The general level of the puzzles ranges from idiotic to moderate, but the real problem with them is that they often include stupid Myst-like puzzle locks and crap like that that makes no sense at all in the context of the game. And speaking of the context of the game, doesn't time travel involve paradoxes and stuff like that? How come our she-male hero goes around snipping people in the head with a crossbow across all time periods without so much as flinching??