Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


With the advent of 3-D games, it's hard to remember a time when games used two frames of animation to show off motion. Games like Prince of Perisa and Out of This World made note of just how great their characters moved, and it made each of them memorable. Blackthorne follows the slower pace of the latter titles with mixed results, but it's well worth playing through at least once, and the 32X port is the way to do it.

This is a laboriously paced title; one where taking your time will keep you alive. Even the action is slow. It's all because of the animation, which needs to cycle completely before making another move. At times that feels natural; other times it can get you killed.

That's where the game is at its most frustrating, as leaps of faith will kill you. You'll need to put your gun back, walk to the edge, turn around, crouch, hang, and then fall. It's too much. Everything is done on a screen-by-screen basis. You don't know what's coming at you in the next room, nor do you know if there's something deadly below you. Without memorization (and the liberally spread out passwords), you'll be sent back to try again until you get it right.

This is a title probably best known for the ability to shoot handcuffed prisoners after they either divulge the information you're looking for or you rescue them. The ability to shoot behind you without even looking makes it even more appealing. The actual fighting is handled plainly, and mostly without too much aggression. It's to the player's benefit to hide in the shadows and pop out to fire off a few rounds than to go head-to-head. Since you can't shoot while walking, this is your only choice.

The first few levels are rather drab in their tone as you make your through a prison camp. It doesn't seem like a major improvement from the other versions until you make it outside. That's when the added color palette of the 32X is put to good use. It seems to move a little smoother as well, though that difference is negligible. The "T" rating on the box is a misleading, as this is a brutal game, especially since you can blow an innocent persons head clean off with a spattering of blood. It's all for mood setting, and it is effective.

The mission structure means you'll be stuck in each level for some time, and there's not enough music to fill that time span. It's very drab without much energy behind it, and the action seems flat without a tense theme behind. The sound effects on the other hand are brutal. Each shotgun blast is convincingly powerful and combined with the animation of enemies dropping flat on their faces; it's a nice mix to convey the death sequence.

While this is a slow, plodding adventure, it's an entertaining one. You can easily adjust to the pacing early on, and if you've spent anytime with Prince of Persia, you'll recognize this style early. If you need something with more action or gunplay, this is the worst thing you could do to yourself. If you want a thinking mans action title, Blackthrone fills that niche nicely.


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Last updated: Friday, July 01, 2005 12:51 PM