Game Review - by James Allen
One of the most famous directors of all time is Alfred Hitchcock. His suspense movies have been critically acclaimed and played on American Movie Classics ad nauseum (of course, I saw Predator on AMC once, so maybe they are all-right). Many other directors have tried to copy his style, most without success. Since Alfred was before the age of computer games, we have yet to experience many games inspired by the director. Speak of the devil; we have ourselves The Final Cut, apparently presented by the man himself (I read the game boxes). Will The Final Cut feature all of the suspense and mystery so mastered by the director, or besmirch the good name of Alfred Hitchcock?
The Final Cut is an adventure game, and as such features only the single player scenario. This adventure is fairly long when compared to other games of the same type, especially when you screw up and don't click on the right thing. The story goes something like this: you go in to investigate the disappearance of a movie crew, and hilarity ensues. Or just a bunch of dead bodies, I forget which. With not much else to say here, I guess I can touch on the fact that, every time you enter the game, it starts at the beginning, rather than your last save point. This adds a couple of extra clicks and stuff that shows how unpolished the game is. Another are the fact that you must disable hardware acceleration for audio and the game seemed to crash HyperSnap, so I had to Alt-PrintScreen the screenshots. Boy, I love having to do things like that for a game. Inexcusable.
The sound is pretty bad. The voice acting is poor at best, and there are no environmental sounds at all. You can stand near a beach, but not hear any surf at all. There are no birds, no other living things besides you and the few people that you meet along your journey. The game provides the indication that it's just you and you alone in this crazy world. You are constantly reminded that you are playing a game rather than enjoying a gaming experience in a living world. In addition, the background score is also substandard and easily thrown away, which is in stark contrast to those found in Hitchcock's movies (see Psycho for a clear example). No much to write about here; better luck next time.
The gameplay in The Final Cut is the usual run-of-the-mill adventure fare: search around rooms for specific things that may or may not help you out. There is the usual amount of weird locations for things (like a key hidden in a pipe valve, whatever) that would take a rocket scientist (or at least a person with a walkthrough) to figure out. Worst of all, you must complete all of the actions in the correct order, AND the game gives no indication that you are doing the right things or enough things. A message along the lines of "Maybe I should look some more" would be greatly appreciated. When you converse with other people, most of your responses are either "Yes" or "No," even if the question isn't a yes or no question ("What is your name?" "Yes."). You use the keyboard to move (rather than clicking places) and, while different, it doesn't work well since the 2D backgrounds are hardly 3D and the camera angles are bad. The game comes with a PDA for all of your data, a nice modern twist, although you can't click on the button on the screen, just at the bottom of the PDA casing. The puzzles (once you find out the obscure locations of key objects) are actually quite simple, as you can only interact with very few objects in the game, unlike a game such as Morrowind (all right, unfair comparison, but who cares at this point, right?) where everything can be picked up. Other than the fact that the game isn't very good, I just can't figure out the tie in with Alfred Hitchcock. The only connection are the "flashbacks" which are just movie clips from his films, and the occasional puzzle with answers Hitchcock fans would know. I guess the only things more baffling is WHY Alfred Hitchcock (or the estate thereof) would associate himself with this game. It provides no suspense, no drive to complete it, and it's slow and boring. The Final Cut commits almost all of the sins that an adventure game can.
The graphics have two flavors that have become very popular in adventure games lately: 3D models on 2D backgrounds. Once you've taken a look at this, you'll see why adventure games are the only genre to implement this tactic. It doesn't look real, though the 2D backgrounds are sometimes quite nice and stylish (and the best part of the game, I might add). This is offset by the worst aspect of the game, and that's the seemingly random camera angles. Boy, these get annoying very quickly. They seem to try and pick points of view that are the most disorientating when it switches. You have to spend a couple of seconds quite frequently to discover what the heck just happened. And not only that, but some of the time it doesn't even show your character: I was off screen for several minutes once, trying my best to see myself. In addition, the angles have the tendency to switch sporadically, which induces motion sickness. This is totally unwarrantable and should not be present in a game published in this day and age.
Why this game is being presented by Alfred Hitchcock is beyond me. Everything that he stands for (like, having good movies) is not seen here (like, being a atrocious game). The camera work (and the rest of the game) is buggy, non-sensical, and just a pain to play through. The mix of 2D background with 3D characters does not work here (and anywhere else for that matter). And most of all, the game just isn't fun. I'd be rolling over in my grave if I were the master of suspense, as the only suspense in this game is how fast you can return it to your local software store.