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Reviewed: Curse: The Eye of Isis
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: November 15th, 2004
Page: 2
Normally I don't mention installation for games or products anymore - if they pass a certain ease of installation, it's just not worth going over. By contrast, if I do have problems, they ARE worth mentioning.

Curse: The Eye of Isis has issues on the first installation of the PC version. They're minor, but they're there. It requires a reboot to install "protection drivers" before you can play it. Then it requires a CD key, which isn't on the CD case where every other game manufacturer puts their CD key, but instead is on a smaller than postcard-sized white piece of paper that I almost threw away. Hold on to this key with your life if you ever have to reinstall.

But I got the game running. Briefly. The software also had problems running with my DVD-Rom drive, and even with running a screen capture program in the background. This was REALLY fucked up; if you don't like that sort of protection, don't go for this game. Eventually, I worked around it all. Everything except the non-skippable opening movies.

Ok, so the presentation sucked. On to the game.

The game opens up ominously enough - a valuable Egyptian artifact, the Eye of Isis, is stolen - thus releasing its curse onto a museum full of guards, robbers who were cleaning out other parts of the exhibits, and the researchers holed up in the library at all hours of the night. Dr. Darien Dane arrives in the morning to find the place under heavy guard, and slips in to find his assistant/girlfriend Victoria Sutton and figure out what the heck is going on. Of course, he's not without assistance. He's followed by a man named Abdul Wahid, his father's old assistant, who possesses the mysterious power to move about without being threatened by the curse, and who functions as an ever-changing save point and "guide."

In terms of the controls for the game, unless you've got a good gamepad, I'd say to stick with the Xbox. The mouse movement can be gotten used to, but it's too kludgy, and the game designers didn't allow the mapping of axes manually. Mouse left/right spins the character, while arrow keys (and ONLY arrow keys, WASD's not even available) move the character forward and back, and strafe relative to the character. Painful.

The Xbox controls are much more logically laid out, and function pretty much like any other third-person game. Score one for the Xbox. The only downside apparent in either version, and slightly more in the Xbox version, is that it takes a decently long time to go back and forth between objectives and the museum's easy to get lost in.

Storyline-wise, the game's a straight shot. There are no choices, no branches; the game is laid out linearly, with the main goals in each section being to find the key or object necessary to move to the next. While there are puzzles, they're pretty short and meaningless; no convoluted Myst-style play to be found here.

That being said, graphically - for a game that runs on a 600 MHz CPU - the game's not bad, and sound-wise it's quite well done. The ambient noises, screams, groans of the game and minimal soundtrack do wonders for the immersion that the controls lack. The only real flaw in the graphics system is that every time the game is run, it "forgets" the gamma adjustment setting, forcing the player to reset it as the default is much too dark.

Abdul will follow you around the whole game, acting as a save point and plot device.

The menu is pretty decently well laid out - weapons, items, and story pieces stored in three layers.

Most of your enemies will be the dead come to life, though a few will just be common thugs trying to loot the exhibits in the museum.

Darien pushes onwards, killing (or re-killing, depending how you describe dispatching zombies) enemies, and collecting weapons. The billy club quickly is replaced with a shotgun, which is replaced with a handgun (strange, but it IS more powerful), and finally an "experimental" flamethrower. Healing items increase in power as well, from menthol flannel and smelling salts for calming effect to strange, necromantic scarab gems placed into mummies, and onwards. There are plenty of things that feel anachronistic and out of place, as the time period of the game (Victorian England) intersects with the placement of the game as a museum storehouse of historical and modern oddities, with a full Egyptian Mummy exhibit on display.

Once the player finds Victoria, she becomes a playable character with her own set of missions. Meanwhile, Darien finds out the full backstory for the game, and has a few run-ins with a Ninja, the one trying to steal the artifact. The storyline points and plot devices are decently well done, and for a budget storyline game it's well worth playing.

Overall, Curse: The Eye of Isis isn't worth $50. But that's okay - it's not selling for $50. The starting retail is only $30, and players interested in it are likely to be able to find it for less with a little hunting. It's worth it.

Added:  Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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