Dracula Unleashed

A surprisingly decent, if frustrating, interactive movie game.

The Good
Video-only games usually don't appeal to me. Aside from Gabriel Knight 2, this is probably the only other one I devoted enough time to complete. To understand why for the sake of this review, I had to actually sit and think about it.

The setting, of course, is a major draw. Late 19th century London is a perfect setting in general and the stereotypical one for classic Vampire works. ICOM did a decent enough job utilizing props, clothing, and other aspects from that time period to make the whole game seem like it truly was set in 1899. Unlike some full-motion video games that played like the cheapest of b-movies, this one has surprising taste and used their budget well.

The actors are fairly good as well. For this genre, I would daresay the actors are remarkable. Most can act and can do so without hamming it up either. Some of the characters are portrayed better here than they were in the Dracula movie that came out the previous year (sorry Keanu). You will actually find yourself playing to watch the actors, not just get to the end of the game, like in most games of this type.

The music, though mostly not original, is perfect for the whole gothic horror genre, and is present when needed by the storyline.

The Bad
This is, after all, a full motion video game and suffers from all the limitations of the type. You are restricted to exactly whatever the story is scripted to show you in the videos. You can only have encounters when and where they are assigned and your actions are very restricted. In fact, your only true choice of 'actions' is in the item that you currently have active in your inventory before you engage in that scene. This makes the game very frustrating as you sometimes have no clue what you may need for a particular scene before you see it. Being unable to change an item halfway through the scene hampers your ability to react. More often than not, you are forced to watch the scene and possibly die and reload to a previous save game and be prepared next time. For most gamers, this is not a truly enjoyable way to play a game. For those who just wish to watch the videos, find a walk-through somewhere to save you from the frustration.

While the fact that this game picks up from where the novel leaves off and stays traditional, the story sometimes lacks originality. Anyone who's read the novel or seen one of the better movie translations will find themselves repeating aspects from the original work.

The Bottom Line
A full-motion video game that is a sequel to the classic Dracula story, you play the brother of one of the original characters who finds himself facing off against the vengeful vampire in an attempt to save the life (and soul) of the woman you love. A surprisingly good addition to the usually sub-quality genre. Fans of full motion video games and those Dracula fans willing to fight their way through the interface to see a decent vampire movie should catch this game. Adventure game players or those seeking more options and depth should avoid this and protect themselves with garlic.

by Ray Soderlund (3569) on April 5th, 2000

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