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Perry Rhodan


Release date Germany:
02/2008

Developer: Braingame / 3D-IO

Publisher: Koch Media (Deep Silver)

Game language and manual: German

Homepage


USK: ages 6 and up

 

 

A review by  slydos   April 22,  2008
(translated by slydos 05-23-08)

 

Who hasn't heard of Perry Rhodan yet, must really come from another star. It's the world's biggest science fiction series in dime novel format, expanding an incessant growing universe since 1961. Since then a hardly assessable fan community procures employment for thousands who work in and for the PR universe. Beside a plethora of print products also audio and digital media find their way to the target group. 10 Years ago two adventure games already took our space heroe as their subject - with only little success. The current release by Koch Media wants to change this.

They push open doors with true Perry-Rhodan-fans, because you don't have to command them to buy this product. It belongs to the automatism of collectors to acquire the game to the series no matter what's its quality.

This review addresses the others, the sci-fi or adventure fans, who want to know, whether they could get along with a game created on the background of such a complex universe which has grown over decades. I don't want to keep this interested sceptics on tenterhooks, but give immediate 'all-clear': yes, you too will be perfectly right in this new Perry Rhodan adventure and will even have cosmic fun with it! Read on, why this adventure is something for you too, even if you don't rank yourselves primarily among hardcore escapists into a futuristic parallel world.

 

Story

Robert Feldhoff and Oliver Wronka have combined well-known locations, characters and technical details of the print series with new characters, new scenarios and of course a yet undiscovered secret to a new story, which integrates in the Perry Rhodan universe and its existing time axis. At the beginning of the game they don't expect us to delve into Perry's interesting past because the exciting and rapid Intros - yes, there are two of them - and the initial situation force the players to first help our congenial hero to execute the obviously urgent actions.

The year 1346 of the new galactic time computation would be the year 4934 of our calendar. An attack has shaken and strongly damaged the Solar Residence. In the action-packed intro we can watch how combat robots kidnap Mondra Diamond on the roof-top of the Residence while she's not denying the acrobatic talents of her circus origin. Perry and Mondra - the two have a son by the way, whom Perry however never saw - have never married (Perry apparently does not marry immortals like himself - he must have his reasons) and their love has given place to a deep friendship, although....

How could the aggressors penetrate the protection shield? Who controls them and why? Perry must answer this questions as soon as possible, but his friends are either conspicious by absence or even prevent him from leaving, like his old buddy Reginald Bull, called 'Bully', who imposed a communication freeze over the Residence and is likewise untraceable.

But Perry wouldn't be Perry if he wouldn't find ways and means to follow the leads of Mondra and the kidnappers. It takes him from Terra to the laboratories of the Waringer Academy, to an Arconidian museum planet, the mines of Gom Callaedus and to more worlds in the depths of the galaxy.

From the fantastic prelude to the spectacular end the story is told excitingly, offering the possibility, to get some unconstrained background imformation about the Perry Rhodan universe and other detailed descriptions, if you like, but also the freedom to bypass them, if you don't want to get involved deeper in the many allusions and the terminology of this future world - this differentiates the game from the print version, which depends almost exclusively on the effect of the word.

Despite the relative immortality given to Perry by "IT" and thereby over the centuries acquired many-faceted knowledge, he remains one of us, a good fellow, no distant, strange superhero and also no cool brain- or fight-machine. His strong impetus and his experienced serenity give us the security that he will reliably win, being nevertheless fallible, very human, humourous and even after 3000 years of uncontrollable curiosity about the undiscovered magnificent as well as the hidden banal - characteristics, popular serial heroes are made of. He is the archetype of an adventurer, who faces perils with sparkling eyes.

I felt extremely comfortable in this strong Alter Ego, who by the way physically stays always 39 years old and owns a self healing mechanism due to the immortality technology. Not that he couldn't be hurt lethally, but the safeness of his cell activator lets you buoyantly check out things that other heroes would avoid. And sniffing various drug flavours until you drop - entirely serving the mission of course - is only a small aspect of the by far larger spectrum of dangers.

 

Music/sound-effects/voice-overs

The sound track of Martin Rosengarten holds low up to the action-packed cutscenes or to the confrontation with new gigantic scenes, already overwhelming by themselves. A recurring sacral-spherical, wordless singing accompanies the main menu, in whose background our hero is meditating while looking through the panorama window of the Solar Residence into the sky, populated by innumerable spaceships. We may not be able to imagine, which thoughts really move him, but are reverencefully sweared into the coming events, the vastness of space and the one man at the threshold to a new, grand adventure by the lonely-mystic sound and the moving picture.

A movie-like soundtrack is assigned to the monumental cut scenes, letting you forget that you are actually only spectator at a ridiculous small computer and not the pilot of a fast orbital glider. Within the game the sound effects are also in line with the pictures of the alien worlds: between the giant buildings of the mine city easy-maneuverable mini spacecrafts tear around, apparently curiously stopping in the fraction of a second, turning around and flying off again. A dark Bladerunner-atmosphere replaces the pulsating, bright Waringer Academy or the magic-technical museum where Perry's steps lonesomely echo.

One can regulate volumes of voice, effects and music separately, so it's possible to turn off the always low-keyed orchestral background music and only perceive the elusive ambient white noise and technical humming, the far, vague sounds of chattering humans in a cafeteria and the hallways of the academy as background. Each gadget or device produces its own beeps and chirps just like your menu-clicks. Overlying are the conscious noises such as steps, doors, a past-rushing express train or the velvet-soft announcements of Elke Schuetzhold.

The first-class dubbing result is based on an adventure-experienced, professional crew of speakers, excellently cast starting with brilliant Martin Schäfer as Perry up to the smallest parts. Most voices will somehow sound familiar and that's not only due to the fact that their speakers bustle about in commercials and other TV productions, but probably to the fact that they could be heard from Simon the Sorcerer over Moment of Silence, Keepsake, Grim Fandango and Monkey Island to Overclocked. There is for example Erik Borner (Simon) as cool bartender behind the counter of a night club. They've got the knack of it and they could rely on Oliver Wronka's excellent dialogues.

 

Graphics

The overwhelming background graphics of more than 300 scenes in 5 very different locations reminded me strongly of Benoit Sokal's adventures. The golden-monumental museum on Titan with soaring architecture almost seems to lean against the Sinking Island tower and also the idea of a mine city going into endless depths rings the bell of Sokal's Paradise, here however adapted to the now popular steam look in dark futuristic colors with many metal gimmicks.

The Waringer Academy reminds of modern light-flooded mass buildings such as airports, equipped with rapid-transit railway connections and data terminals. Beam elevators provide fast change of location. Here and there we meet hologram characters, doing their communication jobs, small cleaning bots, swarming around everywhere with their cleaning rays or levitating projections of soccer games. Many service functions are performed by robots or automats, but that should not surprise us, as our reality isn't very far from this scenario yet. Our multiculti everyday life is however still limited to a bouncy conglomerate of earth citizens at the main station, who don't yet move with mini spaceships over invisible sky roads. Here the world of PR scores pretty phat, because beside Terranians and many manlike beings we do encounter some more alien looking species from time to time. But even in this case they hardly deviate from 'normal' StarTrek or Babylon5-people, thus upright walking bipeds with two arms in the usual positions and a head, which can be used for looking and speaking.

Movement is all around and there are also lively ambient sounds where they should be according to the spectator's feeling. Beside lots of animations such as smoke, raising dust, sparks, running monitors, busy robots and an everlasting motorway-like air traffic we find a busy hustle and bustle particularly in the Academy. If we have increased the number of background characters to the top in the options menu, then the scenery is crowded by passers-by. We can, by the way, address everyone of them and get different answers from a fairly filled pool of NPC-answers, even based on their galactic origin. The Waringer Academy is however the only place, where you have an embarrassment of riches. At other locations Perry is either solo - according to the story - or meets only few but actually game-relevant characters, as for example in the dim mine city.

Perry is known all over the Milky Way as elected leader of the Terranians and 3000 year old immortal. Therefore he now and then automatically slips into the role of another Terranian using a DNA-converter, if he needs privacy and doesn't want to be recognized immediately. This happens faster than you can say "Beam me up Scotty" - including underwear - and turns the blond resident into an inconspicuous brunette student. If you've selected the maximum setting for antialiasing in the graphics options, then Perry's energetic, active body smoothly dovetails with the environment, like all other 3D-characters and objects too. Even if his basic poise or got-going is still a bit soldierly, his other actions and those of the never rusty NPCs are smooth and realistic. Perry's graphic character strongly follows the catchy cover art of the print series, which shows him always powerful and masculine. While the lip-synch succeeded almost always, supporting mimic and movements are still often missing. But that doesn't really make a spectacle, since super-close-ups à la Culpa Innata or Sherlock Holmes are forgone.

Those who can set all graphic options to maximum and then still have easy movements and a smooth-running cursor, will love the visual impact and the overall atmosphere. If one has to set the graphics options to minimum due to lack of computer power, one has to take a more pixelated hero without antialiasing in a grainy general context. Perry Rhodan's graphics are almost but not completely perfect, even in deluxe mode: here and there the environmental light wasn't correctly mapped to the character (see screenshot), sometimes Perry is typing far above the actual keyboard, objects are not visible when handed over or manipulated, gestures and facial expression still could use some fine polish.

I liked the usually static camera perspectives, which only become dynamic when the screen for instance is scrolling within a larger scene or we change to another, usually closer view. The mixture of up to 3 camera positions per scene with the reduction to only few pan and zoom shots is wonderfully balanced and offers the feeling of full game control to the player without exaggerated self-portrayal. Hollywood-like, rapid camera movements and tracking shots show up in the 'extraterrestrial exquisite' cutscenes, to be watched between chapters and key scenes and of course at the beginning and the end. If sub-titles would have been provided here, which hearing-impaired would surely be glad about, I would have said, one cannot do it better.

The inventory animation is a little graphical delicacy. If you move your mouse horizontally across the objects in the always visible inventory bar at the bottom of the screen, then the objects are undulated increased and emphasized from their monochrome grey status into colors. With one right-click of the mouse we get a nearly screen-filling window, set on a translucent level showing a detailed description of the selected object.

 

Equipment

In the beautiful silver mini -box with flip-cover we find the game DVD in a cardboard and the 44page color-illustrated manual, where you are welcomed by two friendly pizza-headed Blues, one of the extraterrestrial peoples of the game. Design and contents of the manual are exemplary! When I still had to criticize the absence of any information about the effects of graphic settings in my last review, the Perry Rhodan manual shows exactly, how to do it right. Each individual menu option of the extensive option screen is comprehensibly described, for example that the shade setting 'Blob' means that the character shade always remains circular. Aside from handling, the Perry Rhodan world is described in the manual and the main characters and peoples. With a color-illustrated walkthrough you'll find access to approximately half of the first chapter. The section about trouble-shooting is very helpful and detailed either. If the game should crash, what never happened to me however, you find a description, what the automatic bug report window is doing, which will send the report directly to the developers, if you have an internet connection. The prices of the given hotline phone numbers are o.k. regarding technical support with 62 cent/minute (Germany), the puzzle help hotline for 1,86 euro/minute is only something for people, who don't have internet access and really are at the end of their tether. But I cannot picture something like that with respect to the puzzles of Perry Rhodan.

 

Puzzles

One enters the puzzles with a middle degree of difficulty and reaches some highs with difficult tasks in the process of the game. Straight away Perry Rhodan makes clear that it doesn't want to underestimate its fans. All right! And all right that the puzzles actually only seem more difficult at first sight than they really turn out in the end. Hints are at least during the first chapter always easy to discover, sometimes in the depths of Perry's allround data base, sometimes in his portable computer, providing brief information about inventory items, and sometimes from the game environment, by graphic-, text- and dialogue clues. Apart from that Perry acts commonsensibly and that brings him a fair way forward. Puzzle variety and complexity are again exemplary. From inventory/object puzzles over logic riddles, decodings, machine puzzles à la Myst and even a deeply modified slider puzzle, everything is so convincingly and imaginatively integrated that especially the more difficult hurdles make fun instead of discouraging.

If you should have lost the thread sometime, you can look up the finished and yet not finished tasks in Perry's note book. A further ingame help is Perry's scanner, likewise iintegrated in his bracelet. If this function is activated with the 'S'-key (the functions of the bracelet are described by right-click), the environment gets scanned from top to bottom with a blue light and relevant hotspots are marked in bright yellow. From a psychological viewpoint this function is so skillfully designed that it accomplishes its task in a relative slow way and releases the cursor only after some delay. Thus the impatient player will think twice whether he/she shouldn't first look for him/herself and only use this help function if it is really inevitable.

The to my opinion most difficult puzzle is a combination of sound and decoding with a few additional solution hints. Who knows the film"Close Encounters of the Third Kind", will know, which tone sequence is meant. I admit, that I always have my problems with such sound puzzles, even if I belleve to know the complete sequence. Since there are several different hints and help for this puzzle, it isn't as nasty as it initially seems.

The inventory puzzles reach another dimension due to the possibilities of combining objects among themselves, because characters and dialogue topics are stored as inventory objects too. One can use these dialogue topics with each of the material inventory objects, each character and each hotspot. The comments for that are refreshingly almost always contextual and often surprisingly humorous, in particular if a combination is actually absurd. Only one of the standard phrases was used a way too often in my opinion.

I was able to discover one serious plot- and puzzle bug: In a hospital of the mine city we must carry an object to a patient. We can talk to him both before and after the object delivery. If you talk to him afterwards about something else than a special topic, then the entire game makes a time jump back and repeats the story including the reappearance of a character, who shouldn't perform any longer and does not allow Perry to speak to the patient about the relevant topic anymore. So you get trapped in a dead end, where no further progress is possible. In this instant I have damned the small number of 7 saveslots, since I was allowed to repeat a very long game sequence. Well, this error only happened to ME, because I wanted to play as much possible dialogue options instead of selecting the actual logical and requested one. Therefore the bug will not necessarily be noted by a normal player.

You will only need savegames if you want to pause the game, as there are no GameOvers. Perry Rhodan is a pure adventure game without dexterity parts or time pressure. Depending on how much you decide to read the offered information in data bases or game environment, you should be able to finish the game in approximately 18-20 hours min.. The relationship between game-relevant and non-game-relevant hotspots is balanced and satisfies the players' need for information about the background of characters and scenes. Story and puzzle design are predominantly linear, in the museum you can however deal with different puzzles at the same time.

 

Handling

The point&click control of Perry Rhodan is accompanied by the ESC-key for the main menu and some keys for auxiliary functions, among them the already mentioned 'S'-key for the scene scanner. The cursor changes its shape and sometimes also its color over hotspots. Perry cannot plan his movements with absolute freedom, but is dependent on certain move-to hotspots (walking cursor). He automatically walks there when left-clicked. Usually he is already running, but a doubleclick sets him to fast movement mode in any case. In the beginning I was a little confused that a pure left-click on one of those beam elevators automatically forces the hero without preliminary warning, to enter and disappear to the next scene. After all I planned to pre-examine the gizmo, and perhaps wanted to try different hotspots before leaving and also wanted to make sure that beaming does no harm to me. If you don't want to be surprised such a kind, you should study the manual before or directly find out for yourself, that looking around and examining is exclusively designated to the right mouse button. So ... right-click for a comment or hotspot information (there are no screen texts in advance by mouse-over), left-click for an action, which depends on the kind of hotspot: characters are talked to, objects are taken or manipulated ... and elevators are just used.

If the mouse pointer transforms into the scene change cursor, a quite large window in the appropriate area appears simultaneously. If you've entered this area before, this window shows a preview of the next room. With a right-click Perry enters this next scene immediately. Here and there we can remote control objects. There is an additional yellow cursor to control them. In the Perry Rhodan game environment some puzzle solutions are made more difficult by nearby hotspots. I hereby have mentioned this fact. For me it's difficult to find something wrong with it. Personally I have nothing against nearby hotspots. For me, complaining about such a thing or about finding small hotspots, called pixel hunt, is ridiculous. And to be completely honest, hotspot hints, in this case the scanner help, are offending adventure fans of the old stamp - still I'm not yet senile and able to drive the mouse without external assistence! If I once should have 10 diopters, one is allowed to offer me an acoustic game add-on. Fortunately I am not forced to use the hotspot-help what preserves the fun of self-made discoveries, actually one of the main pleasures in adventure environments (they say, there are people, who do nothing else in so-called Casual Games, than look for hidden objects; and these games do apparently sell too!). In a nutshell: both, pixel hunters like me as well as people, who feel incapable to cope with the pixel-hunt challenge, can live excellently with the offer of this game.

The developers did hardly anything wrong with the controls. The inventory too functions according to the overall game principle - left mouse button to take and interact, right button to look and inform.

The ingenious option menu with its umpteen possibilities, yet all explained in the manual, deserves applause.

However I would like to nag about the number and presentation of the savegames. 7 player saveslots plus one quick-save plus one auto-save are too few. And if you cannot label the saved games by yourself, then at least the game location should be noted in addition to the saving time. You cannot really pinpoint the small screenicons (perhaps I'm nearer to the 10 diopters, than I thought).

 

Result

The Perry Rhodan adventure game is worth watching, worth listening to and above all worth playing! Give me more! A brilliant achievement of all involved people bestows an exceptional adventure - thanks!

I altogether subtract 8 per cent in the fields of graphics and handling and for the small dead end bug from the perfect 100%. 

 

Total rating: 92%

 

 

 

Adventure-Archiv rating system:

  • 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 XP/Windows 2000 SP3/Vista
  • Pentium IV 1,5 GHz CPU or similar
  • 512 MB RAM for XP/2000, 1024 MB for Vista
  • ATI Radeon 8500 64 MB / NVidia GeForce 3  64 MB, with latest graphic drivers
  • 3,5 GB free space on hard disk
  • Sound card
  • DVDROM-drive

Played on:

  • Windows XP
  • Pentium IV 3,6 GHz
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 48x DVD-ROM
  • NVidia GeForce 7600GS 256 MB
  • Sound card DirectX-compatible

 

Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, April 22, 2008

 

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Main menu
Main menu

 

The attack
The attack

 

Mondra defends herself
Mondra defends herself

 

Perry takes inventory of losses
Perry takes inventory of losses

 

First code puzzle
First code puzzle

 

The Residence has been hit hard
The Residence has been hit hard

 

Perry's past adventures (illustrated with pictures from the dime novels) in the museum area of the residence
Perry's past adventures (illustrated with pictures from the dime novels) in the museum area of the residence

 

Mate Bully is a collector of model spacecrafts
Mate Bully is a collector of model spacecrafts

 

Mondra's bureau has a wonderful view
Mondra's bureau has a wonderful view

 

The engineer has never a loss for a cool and funny answer, when Perry shows him any of his inventory objects
The engineer has never a loss for a cool and funny answer, when Perry shows him any of his inventory objects

 

 Park&ride system of the Waringer Academy
Park&ride system of the Waringer Academy

 

The Academy's Rainbow Dome as railway map
The Academy's Rainbow Dome as railway map

 

There's life at the Academy
There's life at the Academy

 

Objects in the environment cast shades, but Perry isn't appropriately shaded/lighted in this place. By that he looks like a floating body
Objects in the environment cast shades, but Perry isn't appropriately shaded/lighted in this place. By that he looks like a floating body 

 

A interesting menu
A interesting menu

 

You must experience the encounter with the Muurt-Burger for yourself
You must experience the encounter with the Muurt-Burger for yourself

 

Towards new destinations
Towards new destinations

 

Sometime Perry comes to the conclusion: "Somebody is out there directing my steps.
Sometime Perry comes to the conclusion: "Somebody is out there directing my steps.
What am I, a pawn in a game?"

 

The giant museum on Titan
The giant museum on Titan

 

Camera pans and changes of perspectives are used at such places
Camera pans and changes of perspectives are used at such places

 

An old game of the Illohim
An old game of the Illohim

 

In the alien data bases Perry looks up, what his enemies Feinde think of him
In the alien data bases Perry looks up, what his enemies think of him

 

The mine city on Gom Callaedus
The mine city on Gom Callaedus

 

Unusual architecture
Unusual architecture

 

The odor bar
The odor bar

 

During the odor-trip the mine city looks really colourful
During the odor-trip the mine city looks really colourful

 

Verhandlungen ...
Negotiations ...

 

... mit Mackro da Thrang
... with Mackro da Thrang