Not so long ago, whenever someone called a game an 'interactive movie' you knew three things: that Tim Curry was never far away, that there would probably be an exposed breast or two and that it would without doubt be an unmitigated pile of shite. Phantasmagoria, Frankenstein: Through The Eyes Of The Monster, The Daedalus Encounter... All of them thought they could conjure up the magic of cinema through rubbish FMV, female flesh and two and a half special effects, and unsurprisingly none of them did.
Fahrenheit though, even if its designers probably wouldn't like the tag, is finally going to get it right. It's played from the third person, but it feels like a movie and actually manages to be truly interactive - and really bloody clever with it. One of the characters you control is a man forced to kill strangers against his will, another is the female cop hot on his trail - from this premise the story pans out and branches according to the way you play the game.
Confused? Well, say you've reached the part at which Lucas (the guy who finds himself stabbing passers-by at inopportune moments and who may or may not, according to your whim, clear up the mess afterwards) meets up with his estranged clergyman brother in a snowy park. Accept his moral advice and he'll play a major role in the coming tale; argue and tell him to keep his nose out of your homicidal business and he'll never appear again.
Minutes later, meanwhile, the powers growing within you foresee the drowning of a small child in the park's lake. Save him and you run the risk of being recognised by a nearby policeman; let him die and you remain incognito, but you'll be plunged even further into remorse and growing insanity - perhaps culminating in you putting a gun to your temple and ending it all prematurely. It's all up to you, and everything you do or don't do - even to the extent of leaving fingerprints or forgetting to wash your hands - will have a bearing on the plot and the way in which you play the parallel tale of Carla and Tyler - the cops following your trail.
JUMP JUMP SPIN
Bizarrely enough, Fahrenheit also mixes in a fair amount of action scenes governed by timely tapping of relevant keys, turning into a bizarre mash-up of The Bourne Identity's fight scenes and Dance Dance Revolution. Something similar was employed in Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, but whereas the most thrilling thing that that had you do there was open a fridge door very quickly, here you're high-kicking, leaping over cars, hanging onto helicopters and jumping off buildings in extremely quick succession. It looks great fun in motion, albeit currently a lot more attuned to an Xbox pad rather than a keyboard and mouse.
Ploughing its own furrow, with more endings than The Return Of The King -and with the first (covered) male erection ever seen in a mainstream game ("may have to cut that out for the US release" says the developer) - Fahrenheit is worth keeping tabs on. Bit odd though.