Fahrenheit PlayStation 2
Published by Atari
Developed by Quantic Dream
Release Date: Out Now
Fahrenheit, an introduction.
As PC and console games have gained a wider acceptance, the need to create games that can be as involving as a great movie has never been greater. Most games that are around today are not really that involving. Yes there are the classic RPG's and a handful of other games that stand out but most games have a throw-away plot and characters that just wouldn't cut the mustard had they been in a movie or a book. Created by David Cage, Fahrenheit attempts to give gamers that cinematic, gripping experience that will hold your interest throughout the game and for most of the game, it succeeds.
What's the game about?
The game begins with the central character, Lucas Kane, killing a man he's never seen before in the toilets of a restaurant. It's quite a disturbing start to the game but in a strange twist, the moment Lucas has killed the man he suddenly awakens from a trance and is completely unaware of what has just taken place. Of course from the evidence provided by his own eyes he has just killed a man and also carved some strange markings on the inside of his lower arms. Naturally Lucas' first reaction is to flee but what caused him to murder? On the flip side of the story you'll also play as Detective Carla Valenti, the NYPD Agent Tyler Miles and Lucas' brother Markus. Soon enough the whole thing becomes very mysterious as other murders have been committed in exactly the same way by completely different people. Clearly there's some great evil at work here, an evil that threatens the whole human race.
What's different about the game?
That's a brief description of the game then but what about the controls and what kind of game is Fahrenheit. Essentially Fahrenheit is an action adventure game but it's quite unlike anything that's gone before. You'll get to move your character around from a third person perspective, make conversation choices, take part in action sequences and even contend with a couple of stealth missions. OK that's not too out of the ordinary but when you factor in that you only have a small amount of time to make conversation choices and that you have to do a lot of moving your analogue sticks about in a kind of Simple Simon game, along with a small amount of button bashing the L1 & R1 buttons you have to admit it's game with a difference. The game also has three difficulty levels that control the complexity of these action sequences. Characters also have a mental health gauge. Certain events, actions and conversation choices can either deplete or fill this gauge but should the gauge completely empty its game over (well you're taken back to the last checkpoint).
Let's take a look at the action sequences for a minute though. In many parts of the game you'll see two circles appear in the centre of the screen. The outlines of these two circles are split into four segments and these segments are colour coded. The top segment is red, the bottom is green, the right segment is yellow and the left segment is blue. When these circles appear, segments light up one at a time, and you have to push the relevant analogue stick in the direction that is lit. So if the red segment is lit on the left circle you would have to push the left analogue stick up. Of course some times you have to move just one analogue stick but more often than not you'll be moving the two together. Sometimes though you'll have to press the L1 & R1 buttons to either fill a meter or keep the marker in the centre of the gauge which is a lot less complex than moving the analogue sticks around but it can be tricky at times. There is a tutorial that you can take to introduce you to these new control elements and it explains what needs to be done.
What's good about the game?
Fahrenheit's most impressive aspect is that it not only gives you the story from Lucas Kane's perspective but also from Carla's perspective and to a lesser extent Tyler's and Markus' perspective. The quality of the plot is impressive (for at least 60% of the game anyway) and the characters are fleshed out in detail so the story really sucks you in and you're definitely going to want to finish the game to see how the story turns out. The game has multiple endings with conversation choices littered throughout the games so it's fair to say the replay value is high.
What's not so good about the game?
Until I had played around 60% of the game (it tells you how much of the story you've completed if you press the select button), I was very impressed with the story and attention to detail in the game and it really felt like a quality movie. However the latter 40% of the story feels heavily abridged. Plot twists occur that have no grounding in the previous 60% of the game. A sex scene happens, apparently without reason and a new enemy is thrown into the mix too, although at least that part is explained. Another complaint that I have is that the camera angles are awkward to say the least. You can move the camera, to a limited extent, but there are still times when you don't have an ideal view of things, which is a little frustrating.
How does it look?
I've no complaints with how Fahrenheit looks on the PlayStation 2. The environments and characters look great and it's obvious the developers spent a lot of time trying to give the game a real movie look. In terms of the animation, in places it's brilliant and very realistic whilst in other it's simply OK. Load times can be a little long in places but you'll only really notice if you have to redo a section numerous times.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Fahrenheit is subtitled, although you'll have to enable them in the options menu. Having the game subtitled is great (and everything is subtitled) but that doesn't mean that there aren't problems for deaf gamers. The main problem is that quite a few times in the game when there are action sequences (when you have to move the analogue sticks about) there is also dialogue. Hearing gamers will be able to hear the speech and concentrate on the circles in the centre of the screen to see which direction they need to move the analogue sticks. Of course for deaf gamers it's almost impossible to read the text at the bottom of the screen and concentrate on the circles in the middle of the screen. There is one part in particular that highlights this problem, when a flashback occurs and the murder that happened at the start of the game is explained in greater detail. This is quite an important part of the story and it's a shame that deaf gamers will be not be able to fully follow what's happening. Throughout the game you'll collect bonus points and some of the items you can unlock with these points are useless for deaf gamers such as soundtracks and unsubtitled bonus movies. Still this is a minor complaint.
There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Fahrenheit should have been game of the year. Whilst it will deservedly be classed as one of the best games of 2005, the final 40% of the story feels abridged and at times nonsensical. As we've mentioned above there are times when the game puts deaf gamers at a disadvantage, which is a shame. All things considered though, Fahrenheit is a unique experience and most will really enjoy the game. The game is a short game though. I finished the game in a little over 7 hours which may seem disappointing but it's been 7 very enjoyable hours plus I can now replay the game and make different choices in an attempt to get a different ending. If you like your adventure games you're sure to enjoy what Fahrenheit has to offer.
Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
At times Fahrenheit is simply stunning and offers a true sense of immersion. However, the abridged nature of the final 40% of the story and the fact that some action sequences prevent deaf gamers from being able to concentrate on the subtitles means that it's not quite the experience it should be. Still it's a game that has to be highly recommended because even with its faults, it's still one of the best games we've seen this year.