A review by slydos 18th November 2002
One year ago Galilea abducted us with "Loch Ness" into winterly Scotland of 1936, where we could participate in the adventures of private investigator Alan Parker Cameron, an American relative of the McFarley family. In June 1936 Cameron is asked again for assistance, this time by Moira McFarley, which we already know from the first part.
Moira McFarley is member of an archaeological research team, doing excavations in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. She is tracing a secret, that has to do with two ancient statuettes. It seems, that other people are after the statuettes too, therefore Moira asks Alan P. Cameron to come to Cairo.
Cameron puts up at the Mokteos Hotel, where Moira is already staying. However Moira couldn't meet him, but left a key for the back door of the museum, where she wants to pursue her studies. Cameron follows her, however always misses her only for some minutes. The search for Moira continues and our hero is involved into mysterious events, which have to do with living deads, evocation rituals, the usual Nazi myrmidons, magic and an ancient curse. His mission leads him on the Nile cruise ship "Wonder of the Nile" up to the Valley of the Kings near Luxor.
"The Cameron Files 2" comes on 2 CDs in a beautifully designed A5 retractable box as well as the English manual and a beautiful Syberia poster (Dreamcatcher is also publisher of Syberia). During the automatic installation routine we can decide whether we want to bring the entire game on our hard disk, that needs approx. 1 GB, or whether we would like to completely play the game from CDROM.
In the Intro we see a blond man at a sarcophagus in an Egyptian grave chamber, decorated with hieroglyphics. He speaks the evocation formula of the hieroglyphics and they start shining, burning... a mysterious power was awakened!
The Intro can be stopped with the ESC-key and you get into the main menu with the standard menu options "New game", "Save", "Load" and "Quit". A great oriental music theme can be heard now, and I must admit that I listened for a period of time, before I actually began to play.
Cameron is set off from a taxi before his hotel and then can be found in the hotel garden, when we can take over the controls.
In 1st-person-perspective we move as Cameron, can turn around 360 degrees and look also upward and down, exactly as in the predecessor "Loch Ness" and other similar games. In the center of the screen we find the cursor in half moon shape, showing an arrow, when you can change to a new scene. Other cursor shapes indicate whether we can manipulate and take up objects or can speak to other characters.
All actions, as move and take objects etc. are executed with the left mouse button. With the right mouse button you open the screen-filling inventory. Each object is shown in a zoom window (this time unfortunately without text descriptions as in Loch Ness). There are few objects combinable within the inventory. All items disappear from the inventory, if they are no more needed. After certain game sections, inventory objects are simply removed, and I was very sorry when the useful picklock actually disappeared.
In the inventory there are two more icons:Cameron's note book and his wallet. Taken up documents are stored automatically in the wallet and can be read there. So the gamer must not take notes herself/himself, but can look up most documents here when needed. This time, Cameron doesn't make any text entries in his notebook, but stores only snapshots of just experienced scenes. If you click on a screenshot, you can watch the cutscene again.
The ESC-key leads back into the main menu, where the "Save"-option now offers double number of saveslots than in "Loch Ness", i.e. 16. Unfortunately this time no additional texts and automatic date and time can be stored together with this savegames.
All in all controls are easy, intuitive handling similarly succeeded as in "Loch Ness". In addition we have the doubling of save slots. It would have been however nicer, if they maintained at least the date feature here.
Cameron must look around and find and use objects. Often it's simply about finding keys and open the correct door or a suit-case. At the beginning the inventory/object puzzles are easy, become however in the process of the game somewhat more difficult. There are several time limited puzzles and if Cameron is not fast enough, he must die. Therefore you should save frequently since lethal situations often come unexpectedly.
Simplifying - regarding the degree of difficulty - is the fact, that nearly all hotspots represent a meaningful contribution to puzzle solution, that all inventory objects are used and disappear when not needed anymore.
There are decoding -, order and orientation puzzles. Dialogue puzzles are missing, conversations run off automatically in the film scenes without options. In the end of the game the developers inserted this time a dead end, which can't be solved without having determined something else earlier in the game.
All puzzles are logical, since there are always more or less hidden references to the solution. The degree of difficulty varies from very easy to moderate, with 2 difficult puzzles as cherry on the cake. However "The Cameron Files 2" can be recommended to genre beginners, since it is very logical and also relatively linear.
Like already with the predecessor you are enchanted by the excellent graphics, the freedom of movement and the splendourful film sequences. The four main locations - hotel, museum, ship and Valley of the Kings - don't actually correspond to scenes in reality (the mountainous Valley of the Kings lies e.g. some kilometers away from the Nile), are taken for themselves very close-to-reality. Particularly the colonial style hotel or the blue-white Nile ship arise memories of the last Egypt trip, even if there everything was not as roomy and extensive as shown here.
Two changes with the graphics particularly catched my eye: First all outdoor scenes show lens reflections of the sun. A beautiful gimmick, but it occurs in nature only if one has a lens before the eyes, e.g. a camera. Cameron does not even wear glasses!
Secondly, at last a developer team of a 1st-person-game took pity on the heroe's reflected image and de facto showed it! How many games I've already played in ego perspective and thought when viewing into the mirror, my hero must be an invisible ghost probably! Not so here - I am enthused! Unfortunately the scenes are to a large extent dead also in Cameron's second case. Our hero meets only very few people outside the cutscenes and you might ask, where they keep hidden all the time. Altogether I counted 10 other characters. Cameron can interact with 6 of them. That's not many and makes the whole thing spooky and sterile.
But this time more video sequences were inserted and I can say, those are really top class! They again show improvements in relation to the already very good film scenes in "Loch Ness". Here we can observe Cameron and the others in 3rd-person-perpective. Cameron looks younger and better than in the 1st part. Movements, mimic and gesturing are really top! Everything fits, the conversations are spoken lip-synch and each smallest emotional movement is recognizable!
All characters have very bright, talking eyes (but I would have wished them more unsearchable dark with the local people) and Cameron has now even a scar - Harrison Ford salutes! While Cameron in the first game still rather reminds of a Scottish bookkeeper, he now actually appears as an adventurer. One finds allusions on Indiana Jones e.g. in the guest book of the hotel, where a certain Dr. Jones registered some days before and in a cellar of the museum we find a hat and whip!
Up to few music themes, which are usually then used, when suspense is to be increased, the game is done without music. I found the introductory song really super - an oriental ear candy, which opens the mysterious exciting story. Soundeffects are economically set and underline Cameron's actions. Background atmosphere is established by the plashing of the Nile water or e.g. engine noises of the ship. In some places in the Valley of the Kings however I found the background was buzzing too loud and mismatching (actually the desert swallows noises).
Sometimes Cameron commentates situations with dry humour. His voice and those of the other characters is suitable and expressionful, the accents of the Germans and the Russian countess were however somewhat too much. Unfortunately there are no sub-titles. If Cameron speaks to himself in the game, sometimes also only quietly murmured, one must sharpen the ears, because here often hints are hidden. One must then open a savegame, because Cameron doesn't repeat the important things. The dialogues in the cutscenes however can be repeatedly listened and looked at.
Altogether "The Cameron Files 2" pleased better than the predessessor "Loch Ness", because it knows to develop suspense from the beginning and to hold it, particularly underlined by the numerous excellent cutscenes and the time-dependent, dramatic puzzles. Unfortunately Cameron is just as solitary as in the predecessor game, has exaggerated many key/door puzzles and helpful text data e.g. in Cameron's note book, at savegames, in the inventory and the sub-titles are this time omitted, which clouds the otherwise very good impression a bit. With approx. 25 hours gaming time (perhaps hasty adventure artists will get along with 20 hours) "Cameron Files 2" does not belong to the short entertainment group. For Egypt fans, who like the resemblances to Agatha Christie and Indiana Jones, a must. For all others simply a recommendable exciting mystery adventure with logical puzzles that runs technically perfect.
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 98/2000/ME/XP
- Pentium II 233 Mhz
- 64 MB RAM
- DirectX compatible graphic card
- 16x CDROM-drive
- DirectX compatible sound card
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
The main menu
Cameron follows Moira to the museum
"Dr. Jones" has been here
Such stories can't do without a Nazi beer-belly
The hotel bar
Cameron's wallet containing documents
The often missed reflected image
The bartender is asleep
Leaving the ship for a trip
Everywhere Cameron finds people in trance
"Blue Eye" Cameron is not always welcome
The countess seems to know more
What happened to Edmond La Destriere?
Cameron can't beleive his eyes!
Moira is in danger