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|18 JUL 2004 at 7:58am|
Posts : 34
Joined: 7 JUL 2004
Status : Online
|Access Software created the character of Tex Murphy in the late 80s for the game Mean Streets. Having played that game through to the end, I can safely say that their latest Tex Murphy game, Overseer, is a superior version of the same game. No one will ever have to play Mean Streets again, which essentially transforms this five game series back into four. Still, as a fan of the series in general, I must admit that though Overseer is a very solid game it couldn't help but be a bit of a letdown coming hot on the heels of the best Tex game, The Pandora Directive.|
This time Tex is six years younger, a lot more optimistic about life in general, and very committed to his little book of rules for a P.I. Tex doesn't yet understand that sometimes the rules need to be bent a little bit; that the world isn't perfect. Shortly after going solo in the detective world, having parted from the agency that employed him when he couldn't handle the Colonel not going by the book, Tex Murphy gets a client. Her name is Sylvia Linsky, and her request doesn't sound all that difficult. She simply wants Tex to prove that her father's death was a homicide, not a suicide. Tex takes the case, and of course what begins so simply goes spinning into a web of enormous proportions.
The story is one of the strong points of the game, as it was in Martian Memorandum, Under a Killing Moon and The Pandora Directive. Truthfully, this is probably the deepest Tex Murphy plot, though it isn't as enjoyable as the one found in Pandora. Pandora was paced very well; it was exciting and suspenseful, with just the right amount of exploring and puzzles between events. Overseer maintains the lighthearted side of the Murphy mythos, but then it tries to take us into the nature of man itself. The results are decidedly mixed. The game not only tackles politics and Tex's evolving beliefs, but also the failings, no matter how sincerely attempted, of trying to create a perfect world. I liked the use of chess throughout the game as a metaphor for life itself, and the idea that the destruction of "created perfection" is what keeps humanity free. The ending is really rather great at providing satisfying closure to the tale, despite a little surprise before the credits, and the character of J. Saint Gideon is an interesting and tragic one (not to mention well acted in comparison to almost everyone else). What holds the story back a little is that, unlike in Pandora, you are left hoping for even more characterization (since the themes are so strong), better paced drama, and believe it or not, less humor...given the subject matter.
Another problem, though not as pronounced as it was in Under a Killing Moon, is the acting. Don't get me wrong, some of the acting is fine. Chris Jones, for instance, has really become comfortable in the shoes of Tex Murphy. Gideon is solid, Wanda Peck is portrayed acceptably, Sonny Fletcher works, etc. But Sylvia, Chelsea, Eve Clements, Delores Lightbody (awful, just awful), and others overplay their roles to maddening heights. It was also very distracting to see that apparently some of these actors are reading their lines off a damn teleprompter or something. The woman who plays Eve is constantly moving her eyes back and forth; it's enough to drive someone crazy. This kind of thing is not acceptable in a game of Overseer's pedigree, especially when it was trying to be so cutting edge at the time.
As a game though, Overseer delivers. Again, it's not on the level of Pandora, but it's close. Like the last two Tex Murphy games, the Virtual World engine is in use. In 1998, this engine was already beginning to show its age graphically, but it's just as playable as any 3D style engine. The player has full freedom to explore the environments, looking up or down, elevating eye levels up and down, looking at things, opening things, taking things, etc. The game has an inventory, of course, where you can combine items to make new ones, and there are also a number of puzzles in the game that have more in common with The 7th Guest than say, a Sierra or LucasArts inventory-based adventure. It all comes together to give that tasty blend of adventure game styles that fans of the series love. Overseer doesn't do a whole lot, if anything, to improve on the gameplay of Moon or Pandora, but it was never broken, so why fix it? Aside from the graphics themselves, that is. Also, Overseer seemed to be a bit of a step back in my view as far as conversations are concerned. You still get several response options, but Overseer lacks the multiple paths Pandora had, where Tex's attitude and decisions actually changed the result of the game.
Now seems like as good a time as any to mention that Overseer comes with both a 5 CD version, and a single DVD version. Everything is identical between the two, except for two things: (1) In the DVD version you never have to swap discs, which is a huge relief and a welcome improvement over the last two games. (2) The movie sequences are of much, and I stress the word "much", higher quality than those on the CD version. Indeed, if at all possible, everyone should play this game on DVD.
In closing, Tex Murphy: Overseer is a challenging, lengthy, fun, and for the most part engaging adventure game. Despite its shocking ending and the "To be continued..." message, it looked for a long time like the continuation would never happen. Now though, it's looking like Chris Jones and Aaron Conners may finally be able to get a new Tex game out (last I heard, anyhow). It may not use FMV anymore, but who cares? I suppose the greatest compliment I can offer Overseer is this: It makes you want the next one. Badly.
|23 JUL 2004 at 10:09am|
Posts : 34
Joined: 7 JUL 2004
Status : Online
|Some really splendid feedback in this forum... How will I ever absorb it all? :-P|
|29 JUL 2004 at 3:04am|
Posts : 612
Joined: 25 JUN 2004
Status : Offline
I loved the old Tex adventures, simply funny and very fun!
|5 AUG 2004 at 12:00am|
Posts : 112
Joined: 16 OCT 2002
Status : Online
|I tried playing Overseer DVD but it was desinged for the old style DVD players where you have to have a DVD decoder card and a DVD drive. It refused to play and always prompted me for my "VD decoder hardware"|
|25 DEC 2006 at 10:27pm|
Posts : 5892
Joined: 4 NOV 2002
Status : Online
|Recently finished it after a long time of not getting it because my machine couldn't handle it, not getting it because I didn't pursue adventure games any more, not getting it because I couldn't, not getting it because I wouldn't. Finally got it. Which is a very long time if you keep in mind that I loved, loved, LOVED UAKM and PD. |
Overseer, from an objective perspective, is a great game, again. I agree that some parts are just not in the same acting category than some others. Clements was particularly bad and Sylvia wasn't much better. Not to mention I never understood why Tex was attracted to her. She looked rather beaten down. No offense. But the same was true for UAKM and PD. I remember some decent and some bad actors. Chris Jones is actually the best out of all of them at this point. This past Tex Murphy is a lot different from what we saw before. And I especially liked that part of this game and how Chris Jones dealth with it. He seemed to have two different faces, more than I ever noticed in the previous Tex games. There was more depth in this than in the others, although I think PD had great dramatic moments. And yes, the pace of PD was simply perfect. Overseer sometimes feels dragged down. Considering that is is a re-telling of Mean Streets (I didn't know how close, actually) this might be a problem.
I didn't mind the graphics, although I must say the Anasazi area looks pretty crappy these days. This engine works well in secluded areas. On the open field it starts to fade in attractiveness pretty fast. I think even at the time people complained that Overseer didn't look better than PD or actually worse. However that might be possible. I guess that must have been perception and nostalgia.
The game runs pretty well in XP compared to UAKM and PD, but is still a big old unstable mess. After some time into the game I started to suffer from constant crashes I could only fix by setting the detail down to the minimum. Then it wouldn't crash after a cutscene while loading back into the game. I saved, set details back to max, then it would crash. Then I would start it up again and it might run or it might crash when I load the savegame. I had no music in the game, just the cutscenes. Never tried any tools for that, though. I had read that the midi is annoying, anyway, although I remembered PD to have great score. Whatever, I didn't bother.
Towards the end of the game there was an area that would keep me crashing, cutscene or not. It was something else that disrupted the gameplay:
The droids in Alcatraz.
It was not acceptable. Yet I figured I was close to finishing the game and persisted. I must have saved and loaded 100 times. I had to use the hints, because I had to know where to find particular items and get there as fast as possible. Well, it was actually just one item. Not too bad. Finally, I made it out of there and things got stable again.
Aside from those problems I had some instances of objects I just couldn't find or never even thought about looking for. Used the hints, because I don't want to be stuck for ages just because I'm missing something that is pretty hard to tell apart from the rest of the environment.
The rest of the challenges was not that hard, after all. I played entertainment level, though. Not sure what the other mode does instead of putting time limits on the non-inventory puzzles. Some of which were pretty creative, once again. But PD had tougher nuts to crack, I'm pretty certain about that.
In the big picture, Overseer was a welcoming return to Tex Murphy for me. It was just good to see him again. And the other side of him, at that. No evil Tex this time. He came full circle here. If it wasn't for that ending, you'd say this was a pretty good exit of the series...
And yeah, the ending is a bad tease. Makes you wonder what they had planned. It will never happen. Although we all said that when Sam & Max finally seemed gone. Who knows?
[b]playing[/b]: Destination Treasure Island (done in two sittings, but it's nice), Syberia (ho-hum), Dracula: Last Sanctuary (on hold)&&[b]reading[/b]: even more study papers&&[b]listening to[/b]: [url=http://www.last.fm/user/Brax82/]this and that[/url], plus [url=http://www.musicovery.com/]Musicovery[/url]&&[b]TV favorites[/b]: (currently) Pushing Daisies, Chuck, Journeyman (cancelled! grrr...), Heroes&&all-time) 24, Stargate SG1, X-Files, Lost, House
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