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atari yars
Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (43094)
Written on  :  Dec 28, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
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More than just finding an assassin

The Good

You are a member of Bureau 13, an organization that is funded by the government, but operating on its own. Bureau 13's purpose is to identify and eliminate all dangerous paranormal entities. Three days ago, in the town of Stratusburg, a person called J.P. Withers tried to assassinate a former sheriff. You are asked to pick two people to hunt for the assassin, and they are the Hacker, Mech, Priest, Thief, Vampire, and Witch. Furthermore, you are specifically asked not to draw any attention to yourself so as not to have that attention lead back to the Bureau. Eventually, the investigation soon centers around stolen explosives, demons, microchips that have the ability to alter someone's behavior, and a virus wreaking havoc on the military.

Having two characters to select from, Whichever character you pick, he or she is likely to perform tasks that most of the characters cannot do. For example, the Mech can smash locked doors open, the Thief can pick locks, and the Vampire can "mist" through doors. This technique offers alternate solutions to puzzles such as unlocking doors, which then lead to alternate endings. I consider Bureau 13 an adventure more than an RPG, partly because when you point that red bullseye cursor over an object and it turns yellow, that means that the object can be interacted with. And when you right-click on that object, it changes to several icons including eyes, teeth, hand, manipulate (varies depending on the two characters you select: For the Mech, it's "smash", while for the Thief, it's "pick"), and treasure chest, and more icons that I possibly haven't mentioned here, and in that order, they mean look, talk, push/pull, manipulate, and open/close. Clicking the red bullseye on a "surface" allows you to walk to that part.

Most of these icons (and more) appear as verbs in the verb interface, which you can access by right-clicking on the top half of the screen. This is also where your inventory is display, which can contain an infinite number of items, and what character you are currently controlling. Click on the Bureau 13 Badge on either side of the interface, and you switch characters. So, basically, you could say that the interface is similar to Sierra's, except that there's an option you can turn on to make the interface always stay on the screen, but since the interface takes up almost half of the screen, I have no idea why anyone would use this feature. Also similar is the scoring system, where you score points for performing required tasks and solving puzzles. However, to get the highest score possible, you are encourage to leave everything the way you find it so you don't draw attention to yourself. You lose points for performing tasks that are unnecessary. Even though the two characters you choose at the start of the game can perform tasks that the others can't, these may be unnecessary. For instance, if you choose the Mech, you can smash doors, vending machines, cash registers, and book returns open. But instead of committing the crime, you could as well use something to pry these open. You also lose points for attacking people. Like many adventure games, you can die, although when I was playing Bureau 13, I only encountered two situations that contributed to death.

As far as I know, Bureau 13 has heaps of locations to explore. This includes the military headquarters, gymnasium, hospital, cemetery, church, and suburbs among other things. To get to each of these locations, you'll just have to find a way to steal a RV which allows you to travel between locations, as well as finding information about people. The save and restore features are quite useful since both of them allow you to save you progress somewhere in the game where you are bound to make a mistake, and load it up when you actually make one. Bureau 13 also keeps track of where you are in the game. If you exit the game, and load it back up again, the game doesn't ask you to select two characters, but you are taken back to where you previously left off. Useful if there was a power blackout.

Bureau 13 is also available on CD-ROM. As far as I know, there is speech throughout the game, and a selection of songs that you can listen to while playing the game. The game has detailed VGA graphics, with no support for SVGA. There is support for sound cards like the Adlib, Sound Blaster, Roland, and Gravis Ultrasound. Also, a mouse is required to play Bureau 13 (you do know how to use one by now, don't you?)

The Bad

There are heaps of locations to explore, that you expect GameTek to include some map in the game so that you travel to locations much quicker, but sadly, there isn't. If you are on one side of town, and your destination is on the other side (the very last screen), a lot of time will be wasted. No matter which character you pick, each ending is disappointing. I expected the endings to be much more than one or two lines of dialogue (Maybe this is not the case with the CD-ROM version). For example, when you complete the game as the Witch, she says that her quest was time-consuming that she feels like a cup of Earl Grey Tea. And unlike all adventure games, this one hasn't got credits.

The Bottom Line

A very good game that can be played multiple times with different characters and endings, as well as different dialogue. This game is based on the pen-and-paper RPG by the same name, and was designed by Tri-Tac Systems. If you want more information about it, then contact the address that is shown when you exit to DOS. ***

atari 50