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Clive Barker's Jericho

Will Porter reports on yet another disturbance in the Middle East. And this time sending soldiers in seems like a good idea...

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And so, with Barker's aid, soon came the mad and the grotesque: the Jericho meanies, including both flying creatures whose habit it is to eviscerate their prey and use their flesh to pad out their wings; and vast creatures made from mangled, melded corpses that you'll have to climb up and over before you destroy them.

COME FLY WITH ME
Your team aren't exactly everyday joes either - each with their own supernatural forte and armaments that you can use as you leap between them (see 'Meet The Team', right). Abigail Black, for example, was born with the ability to steer bullets with her telekinesis, and Billie Church can create a mist of her own blood that freezes anything that wanders through it.

Exactly how these super-soldiers discovered their powers is up for question, but they certainly come in handy when trapped in the bowels of a hell dimension. What's more, seeing as you're more than a little spectral, you can link brains together - meaning that you'll be sniping with the bullet-telekinesis lady, but can tap into her squad-mates 'seer' powers, letting you see through walls. So, a nasty fleshy skeleton man with all his guts hanging out may well be hiding behind a wall in the crafty belief that he's safe - but you'll still be able to direct a bullet or two around corners to get him...

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SIX IS A CROWD
With six living characters engaged in the brawl, you'd think that such pairings would be hard to come by in the chaos - but the game isn't quite structured like that. True, it'll work so that when you're in wider areas you'll often have the full complement of the Jericho squad, but it'll also conveniently separate the team through various cataclysms as you move through the game.

With three or so characters, levels will become tighter and more specialised - playing to the various abilities of your cohorts. Squad combat will work with you delivering context-sensitive orders, or with the gang just following your lead - while Rawlings the exorcist preacherman will be able to heal those brought down by the evil if they're lying within his line of sight.

Don't worry about a particular lack of bullets though - as one of your cohorts has a fire-demon living in a containment chamber on his arm, it's fair to say that the firepower you're going in with is relatively mighty.

SUICIDE IS DANGEROUS
But what evil lurks? What horrors await? What residue is bobbing in the
U-bend of the damned? You'll regularly come across cultists who are essentially the Al-Khali People's Front Crack Suicide Squad, and who can't wait to kill themselves in horrible ways when you get near. All is not lost for them, however, since they're invariably reborn as hideous creatures far more inclined to rip your limbs apart.

Others, meanwhile, have used their time away from the world to infect themselves with thousands of different diseases simultaneously - and thanks to a handy glistening hook instead of a right hand, then run up to your squad, rip themselves open and let their pus and diseased gases do their dirty work.

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Solely in the crusader areas of Al-Khali, meanwhile, will be child knights - originally used as a weapon in the Middle Ages since it was thought that their purity and innocence would prove undefeatable on the battlefield. These days, however, they fly around in spectral form - through walls and ceilings - floating around at close range before becoming corporeal and lashing out with the unnaturally large veins they have instead of arms, pumped with corrupted blood.

With a cinematic edge, interactive cut-scenes and enough disturbing imagery to cause an entire collective noun of nuns to collapse and die, there's much to get excited about with Jericho. Whether the gameplay manages to match the concept remains to be seen, but in a year where squad combat is in the minority shooter-wise, it's a leading light in horror gaming and the most disgusting thing we've ever covered. Ever. Over to you Mr Barker...

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