by Marcus Mulkins
previewed on PC
Poirot is back
So, did you read the book? Yes? Then we're probably about 90% done here. That other 10% is that they changed the ending. For those of you that have not read the book, here's the official Press Release from USA publisher The Adventure Company (or was it UK publisher Dreamcatcher? or developer AWE Games?) that you can find practically anywhere on the Internet:
"Famous detective Hercule Poirot is back in typical style, turning up at just the right time to begin an investigation into the murder of a famous actress during what should have been the start of a relaxing holiday.Taking on the role of Hercule Poirot, players can scour a stunning tropical island for clues and delve deeper into the mysterious relationships between over 20 unique characters to search out the killer."
Okay, now for the "Tell me something I didn't already know" part.
Step into Hercule Poirot's patent leather shoes
This is a Hercule Poirot game where you actually get to play Poirot! Unlike in Murder on the Orient Express, you have to roleplay Poirot instead of some fictitious assistant. You can steer Poirot around with the usual point-and-click interface. The game is more like And Then There Was None in that you will have a whole island to wander around, rather than the string-of-pearls in the railroad cars where you spent most of your time in Murder on the Orient Express.
Unlike either of those two games, you will be able to skip the tedious path following necessary to get from Point A to Point B by simply "teleporting" there with a single click. I assume you'll have to actually walk through each intermediate screen at least once so your character alter-ego will know where the locations are. Besides, you wouldn't want to miss any clues lying around in those intermediate locations. As you wander the island, you'll interact with only 20 NPC's, so your notebook shouldn't get too cluttered.
Another new feature is that the developers have sunk enough into graphics so that as you interrogate suspects, their facial expressions may offer you additional clues now and again. And when you get desperate for something to do, you can shadow someone to see where they're going, what they're doing, eavesdrop their private conversations -- you know: snoop. Or maybe just to vent some voyeuristic inclinations. For those lacking Poirot's infamous little grey cells, there are in-game hints available. As with most of these kinds of games, it would most likely be just realistic to expect that you will have to avail yourself of the clues a time or two. Designers always toss in a couple of truly warped solutions just so they can feel superior to the audience.
Theoretically, the Inventory system has been streamlined. I take that to mean that you may actually be able to see ALL of the items in your Inventory on one screen, and it should be only one click away.
Some unfounded Suchet-bashing
And that's pretty much it. If it seems that I have been less than enthusiastic about this latest Adventure Company offering I'd attribute it to nauseous sensation that arises when I think of once again having to listen to many hours of that nasal, condescending Belgian accent that every voice actor has given to Poirot. Nearly as bad as nails on a chalkboard! Or is that the fault of actor David Suchet?
(I liked Peter Ustinov's voice soooooo much better!) Argh, David is the only true Poirot! – Editor's feeble cry.