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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Sierra

 

Developer

Sierra

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q3 1999

 

- Fascinating location and history of Rennes-le-Chateau

- Good 3D graphics (with some minor glitches)

- Easy navigation and interaction

- Complete and detailed manual

- Some replay value

- Couple of good plot twists

- Interesting plots and theories

 

 

- Sparse puzzles and ones included are sometimes incredibly hard / irritating

- Gaming world is just too big

- Voice acting is mediorce

- Die-every-two-steps finale is a blast from the past

- Main plotline seems to be forgotten

- Getting all the points near impossible without a walkthrough

- Probably Sierraís last pure adventure game

- Uber-villian has a cameo role

 

 

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Gabriel Knight III: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

Enter the world of vampires, the occult, gruesome murders, viticulture, schattenjaggers and cops with huge, misshapen butts, and youíve entered the world of Gabriel Knight. Blood of the Sacred; Blood of the Damned is Gabrielís third adventure, and marks his first outing into 3D. And what an outing it is!

 

        

 

Past experience with Gabriel Knight games prepare the player of what to expect during the course of game; occult powers, ancient mysteries, that sort of thing. The writing has always been top shelf for the Gabriel Knight series but GKIII was put in easy reach of dwarves. That is to say that more than half way through, most players still wonít know whatís going on or what to expect. The opening chapters of the game plod along, revealing bits and pieces of the overall story arch.

 

The setup for the story is that Gabriel and Grace, Gabeís assistant, have been asked to stand guard over a baby, protecting him from the mysterious "night visitors". The baby is kidnapped, Gabriel gives chase, gets a blow on the head, and winds up in Rennes-le-Chateau. From there, Gabriel must find the baby and learn the mystery behind Rennes-le-Chateau. If the player knows anything about RLC then the player will realize what a monumental task Jane Jensen (writer and designer) has committed to. Unfortunately, there is no feel of urgency to find the baby. Gabriel walks around, talking to members of a tour group and his old friend Mosely rather than trying to pinpoint the babyís location. When the player gets control of Grace, the urgency still isnít there. The story details to be remembered are so numerous (who was where, when, why) that notes should be taken to fully understand what happens at the conclusion. The ending itself suffers a bit since the uber-villian (voiced by John DeLancie) is practically a cameo role. The previous installments had incredible endings because the player was involved with the uber-villian right from the start. But aside from that, historical fact and fiction are melded together in a believable fashion. The plot is convoluted. This seems to unavoidable considering the subject matter strands that are tied together. There are also a few unexpected twists, especially the ending.

 

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The 3D world that Gabriel and Grace must explore is huge. So big that many extras will be missed by anyone playing without a walkthrough handy. For the most part, the characters go about their business searching for the RLC treasure. This is a neat feature but it also adds some aggravation. Whole portions of the story can be missed if the player isnít at the right place, at the right time. The graphics themselves are good. The scenery is easy to look at and is a 

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fairly accurate representation of the real world locations. The characters are modeled well. Gabriel has never looked better, right down to the twin scars on his arm. Some the other character though are blocky as all get-out. Moselyís butt accounts for 35% of his body! There are a few problems with being able to see the seams holding the character models together (at the waist and along the ribcage, for example) and collision detection but for the most part they do a good job of representing the characters. The facial models are excellent. There are several graphic resolutions to choose from which is great if the player has a good 3D accelerator. The cutscenes are rendered and do not use the game engine although some attention was paid to use the same models, so any jarring effects switching from animated to actual is avoided.

Navigation is handled easily with the mouse and can be combined with the keyboard. There is the option to zoom in on items and locations so that actual travel time is cut down. Zoom in on an item then perform an action and Gabriel or Grace will come from just off screen and do as instructed. This is very handy for crossing large areas. Plus, the player controls a 3rd person perspective camera which has a wide range of movement (up, down, angle) so the player can view the action from practically any angle. Interacting with the world is handled with an onscreen menu. Click on an object and a series of boxes will appear, one to zoom in, examine, push, pull, (whatever is appropriate) and one with whatever inventory item currently in use. Conversation is handled the same way, only with subjects instead of actions.

 

Since GKIII falls in the adventure game category puzzles are to be expected. Most of the "puzzles" require Gabriel or Grace to follow people and question them. There are also crime scenes to investigate and conversations to eavesdrop on. But real puzzles are sparse. The first puzzle, which requires Gabriel to forge a passport, is obtuse at best but for seasoned adventurers the answer will be obvious after some thought. The biggest puzzle is also the most frustrating. It deals with deciphering a document and converting that information into map co-ordinates using SIDney (Schattenjagger Information Database). The puzzle is critical to success and itís not easy by any stretch. The puzzle is so big and complex it stretches over many chapters. The next group of puzzles occurs in the last section of the game, the first of which is a chess puzzle! Seems that chess puzzles have become a staple of American adventure games. Part of the problem is that the world is so big that finding the puzzles or the components to complete a puzzle can be frustrating. The last batch of puzzles will bring death with each misstep. Decapitations and impaling are common. This is how classic Sierra adventure titles implemented puzzles. There were consequences for the players actions. At least now itís done in 3D.

The music and sound is good. The music itself is sparse but does add to the game when it appears. The ambient sound conveys convincing environmental sounds. The voice acting is clear and crisp. The dialogue falls flat in some areas, and there is a lot of dialogue. This is partly the fault of writing, and partly the fault of crummy voice acting. All the characters seem to be over the top, which is not bad in itself but it detracts from the realistic feel that GKIII seems to be shooting for. Tim Curry as Gabriel Knight gives a so-so performance. The one liners he spouts just arenít funny. The New Orleans accent is variable. Some of the supporting characters turn in some credible acting.

Overall, the recommendation is that fans of Gabriel Knight will enjoy GKIII. Those that hate obtuse puzzles will want to steer clear. The real attraction to GKIII is the information about Rennnes-le-Chateau and surrounding environs. Itís the next best thing to actually traveling to the south of France, and a lot cheaper. Just about every theory on the RLC mystery is presented, some of which are fascinating and may interest players enough to spark further research.

No crashes were experienced on the computer used to complete this review.

- Omni

 

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