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     " Listen, pal, I donít need to go out there to help you identify what's going on. Smelly, shambling bodies and pot-bellied, ugly little imps? Theyíre called Frenchmen. "

   Title: Nocturne by Gathering of Developers

   Format: PC Adventure

   Reviewing Monkey: Monkeymus Prime

   The Hype: Real shadows, accurate multiple source lighting, and true volumetric fog, more than 40 types of enemies, true 3D environmental sounds.

      What This Monkey Thought...

   Graphics: This game is setup like Resident Evil, a 3rd person survival shootiní game. The lighting effects are spooky (the instructions tell you to play this game in the dark, and you should!), the animations are smooth, and blood spatters the walls and floor when you shotgun a ghoul in beautiful fashion. Your characterís trench coat flaps in the wind, and you can read all the period style posters and such that lie in the background. Unfortunately Vampire: Redemption has spoiled me, and I expect my characterís mouth to move when he talks, not just be a drawn-on skin. Also, and a disclaimer on this one, some of the characters had a line going vertically down the center of their faces, like a seam in the skin. Now, Iím running the unpatched version of the game, and this may have been fixed in the patch. But both of these are enough to ruin the otherwise complete total immersion in the game. 4 out of 5

   Sound: Damn this game sounds good. The music is haunting, and spikes appropriately when something moves across your vision momentarily. Sounds are agonizingly, and I do mean agonizingly, perfect for each creature. Voice acting isnít cheesy or poor in the acting department either. This more than anything else puts you totally in the game. I havenít been scared by a game since I played Doom with headphones on in the dark, but this one did it for me. 4 out of 5

   Game Play: Here the game falters a little. A little bit of a throwback, this game has no mouse features and is pretty much keyboard (or game pad) only. The controls are pretty easy to get used to, though there are some problems. Picking up an item is sometimes supremely difficult, much like flipping some switches. It seems like the game just doesnít want to go to the hassle of running the animations on occasion. Lazy bastard. The auto-aiming feature is a godsend, though, pivoting to fire on the nearest baddie. Only a minor amount of precision aiming is sometimes needed, as the auto-aim goes for center torso shots, while planting a stake or crossbow bolt in a vampireís heart or putting a .45 slug between the eyes of a walking corpse makes you aim higher for quicker, ammo-saving kills. Unfortunately, and excitingly, the choice is often aim or get bum-rushed by the monsters. Get shootiní or die. 3 out of 5.

   Level and Environment Designs: Again, total immersion. From the lighting to the little touches in the background, like photographs, graffiti, posters and the like help set the time period to the 1920ís-1930ís. Levels seem pretty straight forward, with a few little hidden passageways that you may miss if you arenít eagle-eyed. Plus, unlike any other survival horror game Iíve played, the bodies of slain enemies stay! In Resident Evil, you could always tell if a zombie was truly finished or not by leaving the room and coming back; if the bastard was still there, better shoot Ďim some more. Not here, pal! Only way to tell if the monsterís really dead or not is to walk over to it and see if it bites you on the leg (actually, much like Resident Evil, thereís a big pool of blood that spreads out from the body when it dies, but when you kill something really messily, all the blood looks the same and you canít tell). 5 out of 5

   Multiplayer: N/A

   Replayability: Iíll probably pick it up again in about 4 months or so, just to run through it again. Hell, Iím going back through Starcraft again right now. No extra costumes or anything to get, but you can download a level editor and swap new levels online from other players. 2 out of 5

   Story/Dramatics: Straightforward, tight plots and good voice acting keep the story moving right along to the next bloodbath, but also keep the game from dazzling us with twists. It does leave us with a cliffhanger ending, though. Plus, there are some naked vampires in here! Nothing says, "plot" like nudity. 3 out of 5

   Instructions and Learning Curve: As the instructions are really vague and unhelpful beyond giving you a basic knowledge of keystrokes and character bios this should actually be two separate things. Plus, it kind of gives away a lot of the plot in the enemy bios. The learning curve is nice and easy. There are only a couple of frustrating insta-death scenes due to pit traps and the like, but as long as you save your game at decent intervals youíll be fine. 3 out of 5

   Installation and Real System Requirements: Smooth as butter but not as easy as your mom. Also unlike your mom, it requires more and then delivers. 4 out of 5

   The Verdict:

       Almost perfectÖ Iíd like to share some fun moments in the game with you to illustrate why this is more fun than a barrel of undead monkeys.
       Iím walking through a zombie-infested hick town in Texas, securing the outside before I go in. I hear zombies grunting all around. "Ungggh." "Grarrrghhh." "Mooooo." Moo? Sounds like a cow! So I figure, farmhouse, must be cows, Iíll probably come across some horrid scene where the zombies are slaughtering bovines. Then what comes lumbering around the corner? ZOMBIE COW!!!!! The fact that they put this in the game makes it damn cool. I marveled at it for a moment, then blew off its head.
       The last mission is to go to a former member of your teamís mansion in France to investigate and identify a demonic presence in his graveyard causing the dead to rise. Listen, pal, I donít need to go out there to help you. Smelly, shambling bodies and pot-bellied, ugly little imps? Theyíre called Frenchmen.

   The Good: Total immersion into the environment, music that underscores events, awesome graphics, ZOMBIE COW!!!!!!

   The Bad: Vague instructions force you to figure out as you play, some control issues cause unneeded delays and aggravation, no moving mouths.

   The Overall Ugly: I soooo grooved on this game. Take the instruction manualís advice: Play in the dark. Sure itís got some control issues, but hey, who doesnít? They donít take away from the game unless you let Ďem. Canít pick up the weapon? Pull another one and wait till youíre not under pressure. If only the mouths movedÖ And oh, yeah, ZOMBIE COW!!!!!

   What it's Worth: I got it at a warehouse store for $24.99, Iíd pay up to $39.99 without blinking.

Buy it now from Amazon.com

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