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Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (Xbox)

77
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
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5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  MasterMegid (897)
Written on  :  Mar 22, 2006
Platform  :  Xbox
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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Summary

Cthulhu Is Calling Me...And Making Me Write This Review!

The Good

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."-H.P. Lovecraft-

Call of Cthulhu, has been in development for a long time. Too long. Perhaps like the elder god himself the developers were just waiting for the “stars to be right”. More likely the long delay was a direct result of the game having no publisher until recently. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners on the Earth, is based upon the works of American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.(The 20th Century's successor of Poe.-MM-) It is the first and hopefully not last game based on his work from Euro developer Headfirst. Sure there have been other games inspired by Lovecraft, such as: Alone in the Dark, Shadow of the Comet, Prisoner of Ice, and the excellent Eternal Darkness. This game is like nothing seen before in survival horror gaming.

"That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange eons even death may die."-The Necronomicon, Abdul Alhazard-

In CoC:DcotE, you assume the role of Jack Walters, a Private Investigator, whom has recently had some luck cracking difficult cases. The game begins with what will be his most difficult yet, and lead Jack to confront The Great Old Ones. Years later Jack is released from Arkham Asylum, as he rebuilds his life, he receives a call that will send him to Innsmouth, a decrepit village only spoken of in hushed tones. And should be well to familiar to any Lovecraft reader. The investigation will soon have Jack running for his life in some of the most exciting sequences in any game. And will draw him deeper into the abysmal horror that exists just beyond the veil of reality. I will not divulge any more of the plot. It is the games strongest suit, and will keeping you playing even as the game gets exceedingly difficult, but more on that later.

"Out from ruins once possessed fallen city, living death"-The Thing That Should Not Be, Metallica-

The Graphics are quite good, and I found that the screens do it little justice. The use of lighting is pure genius, as is the grain filter, which helps Innsmouth look dilapidated just as it should. The only downside would be that the sanity effects can be quite annoying at time and incredible at others.

The Sound and Music excels as it should in any horror game worth it’s salt. Creepy sound effects heighten the experience especially during the Jack’s decent into madness. Music is scare but all of the tunes are memorable, particularly one recurring tune with lyrics.

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."- H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu-

The Gameplay, is different from typical horror games in a good way. Firstly the P.O.V. is entirely in the first person, which helps draw the player into the game, as well as alleviates, bad “cinematic” views in which you cannot see what you are doing. Resident Evil I’m looking at you. And healing wounds is not as easy as quaffing a potion, you must treat each wound individually. With bandages, splints, and stitches. The sanity effects heighten the experience, hearing voices, hallucinations, and vertigo are all common place. The effects can get in the way particularly the vertigo, and panic attacks. This game is truly an adventure game with combat, as most of the game is spent collecting items and solving puzzles. Mostly you avoid combat, yet the combat itself is functional, and enjoyable, there’s nothing like blowing away an evil hybrid. This game is not for children, as just about everything that a game can receive an Mature rating for this game has.

The combat can take some getting used to. As the FPS with no cross heir is non-existent. Once you obtain a gun, a few hours into the game, you can finally fight back. However that is not an invitation to blow everything in sight away.

When using guns there are two ways top fire. Normal fire, which is less precise. And aimed mode. In which you can target certain body parts. The head, of leg or arm, etc. However if you hold the gun in aim mode too long, Jack's arm will start to shake and make your shots less accurate.

Targeting has other benefits as well. Head shots, of course will deliver instant death to any foes. While shooting the arm of an enemy will make it harder for them to shoot you. If you shoot them in the leg, they will limp and be easier to kill or escape from. Be warned however as they can do the same to you!

The Bad

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

This being said this one is far from perfect. As mentioned certain sanity effects can complicate things. The game can also be frustratingly hard. The game is actually very liner. That is to say that you have to accomplish events an exact way, and you may fail often until you find it. But it will be the excellent plot that keeps you coming back for more.

At some points in the game there are endless hybrids. This is a gameplay flaw. It is annoying. And often you will not realize that the foes will not stop. This also contradicts the short stories, from which the game is based. As in those we learn that Innsmouth has only about 100 people. Where as in the game it can seem there are 10 times that.

In the later stages of the game save points become less and less common. Which means you will end up playing some of the same parts over and over.

The Bottom Line

The Shadow Out Of Time

Any fan of Lovecraft’s “Weird Fiction” as he called it, should check this one out. They probably already have. So anyone who like horror games, or adventure games should also check it out. In the end this game shows how inferior other older horror games are. Headfirst is working on two more Cthulhu games here’s hoping it does not take as long to come out this time. If they ever come out at all. So heed Cthulhu’s call and try this game.