Game language: English
A review by slydos 21st July 2005
Since the original version of the mystery game featuring master detective Martin MystÚre was released, i.e. just about Christmas 2004, the non Italian speaking gamer community waited for the English language version of the 3rd-person point&click adventure game, which now has been published by GMX in July 2005 after some rescheduling.
Why is it so important, to snatch Martin MystÚre in an understandable version? Well, our superhero issues a lot of text, and it would be a shame, if only one of his funny comments would be missed!
The comic hero and specialist for supernatural and unusual cases, created by Alfredo Castelli at the beginning of the 80's, got an interactive dress tailored by Artematica. By the way MystÚre has married his longtime fiancÚe Diana Lombard, and lives with her and his very special friend Java in New York. He is not only the special weapon of the FBI but also very educated in many sciences and arts, as if he would be a Fox Mulder crossbred with Indiana Jones exponentiated. The sub-title of our game, "Operation Dorian Gray", freely adapted from Oscar Wilde, points out that the story this time is about a dream of mankind - eternal youth.
The exciting story begins with the murder of professor Eulemberg, a highly reputed scientist of the M.I.T.. Martin is informed about it by a telephone call from his FBI friend Travis, who asks him to act as a consultant in this case. Which people were Eulemberg's contacts and what was this ingenious man working on?
Our hero must first fight everyday life problems and succeed against bureaucratic minds. He always keeps his humor, which is really infective. His investigations lead him also to Mexico (every adventure hero/heroine at least once should solve a pyramid puzzle in their lives). It's just a matter of time to learn that Eulemberg probably has discovered a sensational secret, which attracts some dark subjects too. Martin runs into life-threatening situations and we must do everything to bring him out again. More will not be given away, and there are also no screenshots from the 2nd half of the game, where you still will encounter surprising twists. Martin MystÚre is a realistic comic adventure, where both, humor and seriousness, have their place. A contradiction? No, simply lively told with the right dose of amusing, bizarre and intriguing elements.
If you've finished Martin MystÚre, you can't loose the impression that it was a very busy time. Although the game is by no means long with approx. 16-18 hours play time, it seems, as if one would have been active all the time, constantly examining, puzzling, talking, and having experienced so many small details by bustling around that it got to be enough for three games. Simply no idle running and no boredom rises, so you feel only little repetition and thus no frustration. On the one hand this is due to a healthy quantum of non-linearity within the limits of the story-line on the other hand due to the very large number of hotspots and possible activities beside the minimal strand of the story. And if you don't have any idea at a time to advance, then you can let Martin have a phone chat with Alfredo Castelli and enjoy to listen.
With a few exceptions (decoding puzzles) Martin MystÚre is all about object/inventory puzzles. I perceived them as downright logical, providing a fluent gameplay. Of course our hero can't get around banal door opening puzzles but there are also some amazing imaginative tasks and a very special clue. Altogether the puzzles are almost exclusively on the easy side. There are no brainteasers without a hint. I take the game as a fine gateway drug into the adventure genre without dead ends, game overs, action or dexterity elements. The only cause for criticism was offered by the fact, that after a steady slight rise of the difficulty level, the earlier high hotspot-factor of perhaps 10:1 was very abruptly halved in the last quarter of the game, while the puzzles fell back to the starting level and the story is somewhat more hastily brought to an end.
Martin MystÚre is a 3rd-person-adventure which is 'nearly' totally mouse driven. To show the main menu I had to drop in on the manual however, because this function only works by using the F1-key. Under 'Extras' the menu offers, besides the standard options, sketches and video scenes depending on your progress in the game. Saving and loading is done by clicking on one of sparse 8 save slots, represented by screen icons, that are also showing the appropriate act of the game.
We open or close the inventory at the bottom of the screen using a fixed button in the left lower corner. So one can decide whether the inventory should be visible or not. One should better leave it switched off, as long as one doesn't intend to use it, because the colourful filled inventory bar draws the attention off the text line above, where we find the descriptions to hotspots and thus get to know whether there is an interactive screen area or not. With another left-click we get more detailed descriptions and comments, which are on the one hand unfortunately only faded in for a short time and not spoken by our hero on the other hand. I missed a spoken description of the screen objects, only the inventory items are worth Martin's voice.
Generally we look at objects with the left mouse button and can browse through the possible actions with the right mouse button, to interact with objects or characters. The cursor is used exactly the same within the inventory, where we can also accomplish object manipulations and -combinations. Objects, that Martin carries with him on his mission, are a map of New York, where all accessible locations are automatically marked, and his mobile phone, to call stored numbers as well as getting contacted by others. Up to the text line, which turned out to be a bit on the uncomfortable side, handling is easy and readily understood.
Our 3D-hero does not deny his comic origin with his angular face and his blond quiff. He smoothly moves where our mouse sends him or walks to objects, which we want to examine a bit closer. Martin will not remain the only controllable player character. Also some of the other 3D-characters (over 30 interactive), but not all, look more comic-like. But Diana or Travis e.g. have again very realistic features. Movements and gesturing are smooth and suitable, however one could have wished more anti-aliasing. There isn't much mimic and lip-sync as the characters in these situations are nearly always shown small or from the rear except in some video scenes. Reflections and dynamic shadows, rain and light effects please the senses.
The video scenes nearly always serve as transitions between the individual chapters and are geared to the overlapping comic-strip-like windows. A nice idea, but unfortunately they cannot convince, since they are very blurred.
On the other hand the rendered background graphics are gorgeous. The opulent locations, equipped with an enormous number of hotspots, look less comic-style-like than the character graphics. They invite to roam and examine. Martin Mystere has an immediately noticeable own flair, thereby uses no trick-film-like graphics style such as Runaway for example, but shows its own light and soft-drawn expression. More and more of the 9 main locations with approximately 50 interactive scenes become accessible.
The sometimes jazzy, sometimes dramatic music contributes a lot of atmosphere. During a scene change we can already feel, whether the story will continue easy-going or becomes exciting. If for example our hero enters the museum with skeletons of dinosaurs the music sounds for 2-3 notes allusively like the Jurrassic Park theme.
The translations of the texts seemed sometimes not so perfect to me with a couple of spelling mistakes which could have been avoided, also in the manual. E.g. the Aztecs are written sometimes Aztecs and often Aztecks, which didn't bother me personally as much as maybe native speakers probably.
The selection of the dubbing voices is suitable and they sound expressive up to the fact, that the speakers stick with the utmost care to the speed of the sub-titles and therefore often pause within a sentence before the next text comes up. But even if sometimes a sentence is not as fluently spoken as it normally happens in a conversation, I was actually very glad about the synchronicity as die-hard sub-title reader. While cutting in spoken texts, the background music is always reduced, which is not to be sneezed at, but sometimes a soft cracking disturbed these transitions.
It's a pity that not all text lines, thus the descriptions of the many objects too, are not audible, on the one hand because I would have gladly heard more of the sonorous voices, on the other hand the high speed text display would perhaps been slowed down. Some texts are only faded in once and with the next click we get a new comment.
No problems ocurred during the automatic installation of the CDROM. Starting and leaving the game, as well as loading some video sequences is a little time-consuming, while scene changes are still within 'normal parameters'. There are no game crashes or other bugs with my configuration.
I noticed the justification using a proportional font either on the DVD-box and especially in the manual. The marginless print-space in the manual neither looks aesthetic, nor does it provide easy reading of the manual's 16 pages, which has a newspaper-like design. Here one should have deployed professionals.
Martin MystÚre is the likable hero, to relate to immediately. The story offers an extremely succeeded mixture of humor and suspense, which surely won't be only entertaining for comic or mystery fans. The game is easily controllable, action-free, pure point&click, and offers an easy to digest puzzle food for a broad audience, both for beginners and advanced gamers. I don't see any dangers or problems for the age group starting from 7 agreeing with the European PEGI-rating (can't speak for North-America and other cultural areas where scenes maybe censored differently). Of course one should understand English to enjoy the game version on hand. Martin MystÚre and his friends are almost perfect series heroes. I hope, we will soon get positive news from Artematica concerning a new adventure game with the master detective.
Rating: 82 %
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for hardcore-adventure-freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:
- Windows ME/2000/XP
- Pentium III 866 Mhz
- Graphic card 32 MB
- 128 MB RAM
- 700 free space on hard disk
- 32x CDROM
- Windows compatible sound card, keyboard and mouse
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Ultima Artec)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
Copyright ę slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 21st July 2005
The map of New York
The corpse of Prof. Eulemberg
Eulemberg's mansion is filled with paintings
In zoom views we can look at and eventually take objects
Martin MystÚre is investigating the Eulemberg mansion
Some inventory objects can be magnified
The natural history museum is another interesting place
The kiosk owner is helping Martin
Talking about the situation
A trip to Mexico
Looking for Prof. Alexander
We can read a lot of documents
An excavation site in the jungle
Back to Eulemberg's bureau
The Blue Rose Club
Martin wishes to have more time to look through the library
Within the Aztec temple