Synyster Graves

Clive Barker’s Jericho

by on Apr.14, 2011, under Xbox 360

Clive Barker, the man responsible for such cult horror, lent his name for the horror/shooter which was released on the Xbox 360. It’s in the style of a first person shooter and starts you off in the ruins of the Middle Eastern city of Al-Khali. You are hunting the “Firstborn”, a deity created and subsequently rejected by God before creating Adam and Eve. This abomination was banished into the abyss because of it’s imperfections but kept trying to breach the walls of reality and break back into the mortal realm. While this sounds like Mortal Kombat, it is, sort of, but instead of a fighting tournament we have religion. And instead of Shao Kahn, we have some freaky unborn child.

You play the protagonist Devin Ross, who is commanding officer of the “Jericho Squad”, an elite military unit specialising in supernatural encounters. Ross is killed right at the beginning of the game by the antagonist, Arnold Leach, a former Jericho member who’s lust for power has aligned himself with the occult, becoming a Sumerian demon himself and attempts to free the Firstborn. While it may seem weird that your character has been annihilated right at the beginning, you essentially control Devin Ross’ spirit. The six remaining members of the squad can be “possessed” by Ross and you take control of them through this, pretty much like Quantum Leap. Each member has a different supernatural ability including homing flame demons, telekinetic guided bullets, flaming walls of protection and time augmentation, Max Payne style. This has it perks definitely, but the shitty AI in it tend to have the CPU-controlled members wandering aimlessly into enemy fire when you’re not controlling them. And when you can only control one at a time, this becomes quite an issue.

The Jericho Squad...who you gonna call?

The enemies are tough and relentless giving this game quite a good challenge, as the presence of the firstborn spawns these abominable monsters which you really need to work with your braindead CPU team to take down. The Firstborn’s attempt to break into the mortal world sees the squad having to transcend different points in time when the firstborn manifested to drive it back to the abyss. This is where the game shows it’s real beauty. You start off in modern day, in the ruin of Al-Khali, before traversing time and space back to World War II (1942 AD), fighting weird and twisted demon Nazis; the Crusades (1213 AD) with huge Arabic castles and rivers of blood, The Fall of The Roman Empire (38 AD) with enemies in Roman formations and finally, spookiest of all, Sumeria (3000 BC) where the team will finally drive back the Firstborn from the top of the Tower of Babel. The graphics and level design, while being slightly linear, are amazingly detailed and atmospheric.

Lichthammer falls foul of the shaving foam while you sleep prank...

The boss enemies are really well designed too although it has to be said that the bespoke technique to defeating these bosses is obvious in the slightest. You really have to remember what powers each of your unit has in order to defeat them, and most of the time when the bullets or whatever disgusting projectiles are thrown at your face, you just spend the time returning fire, instead of deduce a cunning tactic using your teams powers. I really don’t want to throw in any spoilers in this review, but I will say that the final boss makes no sense whatsoever as to how to hurt it.

What is irritating is the stupid “survival” moments in the game. It encompasses the obligatory quick time event to make your whatever has acosted you keeps you alive, and in some cases basically makes a cut scene into a pain in the arse. I hate QTEs and this is just another example of trying to insert a huge cutscene in and making sure the player doesn’t skip it by pissing them off.

In summation, Jericho wasn’t a bad game, it just wasn’t brilliant but it was an entertaining game and for the cut price I got for it was worth it. The story is good if somewhat confusing but dark and creepy. It’s another game that would have totally benfitted from being in multiplayer co-op but you can’t have everything so I’ll leave you with the sentiment that this game may not excel in the horror stakes, it definitely makes up for it in atmosphere and incredible level design.

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