Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Blade Runner", Windows, 1997.

Here we are -- another Westwood game, as promised, more than a little derived from Philip K. Dick (at least, as filtered through the sensibilities of Ridley Scott!) It qualifies as cyberpunk due to its provenance, a follow-up to a movie that practically defined the gritty high-tech look of a possible future despite not having any sequences set in "cyberspace" (though the game boasts the "ESPER photo analysis machine, administering the Voigt-Kampff replicant detection test, ... and analyzing clues with your Knowledge Integration Assistant" for futuretech points. Similarly, Manhunter doesn't count as cyberpunk despite its characters communicating online on their Manhunter Assignment Devices, since they're just bulky '80s laptops. But I digress.)
Westwood's own True Color Emulation delivers game play and break through lighting and special effects in screen (640 x 480).
Over 70 Real-Time virtual actors pursuing their own agendas that affect your final outcome each time you play.
Real-Time camera movements DURING game play, and Real Time animation with Westwood's own optical motion capture technology.

Armed with your investigative skills and the tools of a 21st century BLADE RUNNER(tm), you'll be immersed in a futuristic world that revolutionizes computer gaming, and tests your ability to survive in one of the richest and most atmospheric games ever created for the PC.

It's hard to engage purely technical ad blurbs, since even if the claims are incorrect, the refutations are hard to make interesting. It does appear to have some innovation here (3D actor digitization with voxels!) but in retrospect it's not so impressive to a blase contemporary audience. Intriguing and noteworthy aspects of this game include the use of piles of actors from the film (guess Sean Young hasn't been getting a lot of work lately... oh crap, this was 16 years ago!) and a certain degree of autonomous NPCs living their own lives resulting in no two sessions being a like, making your walkthrough worthless!

It's also an interesting member of the "licensing the property, but omitting the biggest part of it" category, like the Godfather game which used the faces and voices of all actors except for your character, represented in the film by Al Pacino (who was tied up in contractual tape for his likeness appearing exclusively in the Scarface game. But... digression.) This isn't a Blade Runner adaptation, more of a ... "gaiden" (trans. "side-story"), and it's not about the main character from the movie... just one of his co-workers. It's like: let's see just how close we can make him to Harrison Ford's Deckard without actually making him the same. (Worked for Sega's Space Channel 5: when Lady Miss Keir of Dee-Lite wanted more money for the use of her likeness than Sega was prepared to pay, they just tweaked the character model, renamed it Ulala, and paid her nothing. She took them to court, lost, and had to pay their court fees. If there was any groove remaining in her heart, it has been foreclosed.)

There is another licensed Blade Runner game (actually, is it licensed?) Basically, it is an adaptation... of the BR film's Vangelis soundtrack.

Blade Runner trivia: the film's name comes from producer efforts to find a less toxic name for their product than Philip K. Dick's short story that inspired it (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), and optioned a totally unrelated William S. Burroughs screenplay about smugglers of medical supplies (blade runners, get it?) just for use of its name. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.