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The Longest Journey

Product: The Longest Journey
Company: Funcom/Empire Interactive
Website: http://www.longestjourney.com
Estimated Street Price: 29.99
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

Point and click adventures are slowly becoming a thing of the past, which is a little worrying to me as I am one of their biggest fans. Adventure titles are moving into full 3D (Monkey Island 4 for example) but have so far had little impact in terms of sales, one of the best adventures in the past year or so - Grim Fandango managed to blend 3D/2D graphics together to produce an excellent point and click adventure, but very few people actually ended up buying it which is a real shame.

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Now we have "The Longest Journey" by Funcom again trying to blend 2D and 3D graphics together to produce a more advanced point and click adventure. Here are some of the features:

* Over 150 locations spanning two distinct and detailed worlds
* More than 70 speaking characters
* Exciting mix of 2D and 3D graphics in high-resolution
* Supports both 16- and 32-bit colour depths in software and hardware
* Each scene featuring multiple 3D characters with up to 1,000 polygons each
* Support for most 3D accelerators through Direct3D
* Real-time lighting with detailed shadow-effects and moving light sources
* Dynamic coloured lighting in both software and hardware
* Motion captured animations
* Skeletal animation system with real-time interpolation
* Real-time lip-synching of dialogue
* 40+ hours of gameplay
* 20+ minutes of high-resolution pre-rendered video footage
* Cinematic musical score

Installation And Settings

The Longest Journey comes packed across 4 CD's. Installation is very easy, if a little long winded due to the large size of the game and the amount of information it has to install onto your PC. There are choices of small, medium and the massive full install of over 1 Gigabyte of space. If you have a fast enough PC you probably don't need to go the full hog and install the full installation as the medium install does the job just as well.

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Once the game is installed auto play starts up and you get a number of choices to choose from before starting the game. They are:

  • Play
  • Reinstall
  • Uninstall
  • Install "DirectX 7"
  • Register Online
  • View "Readme.txt"
  • Quit

So it is now time to click on Play....when you have done this, you are greeted with a number if new options that setup the graphics in the game, first is to choose your graphics card (G400 in my case), Color depth (32 Bit here) and enable 3D acceleration.

The Gameplay

The Longest Journey is a point and click adventure, if you have ever played Grim Fandango, Monkey Island etc then you'll know exactly what I am talking about. You play the part of April, a young student who has been having bad dreams and it is up to you to find out exactly what these dreams mean and why you are having them. The Longest Journey is full of logical puzzles and a massive amount of speech and the great thing is - there are no action orientated parts in the game, it is just pure adventuring.

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The game is split up into chapters of which there are 13, (Beginning with a short prologue which you play through) each chapter ends once you have completed a certain amount of puzzles. The Longest Journey is pretty large and isn't a game you are going to complete in one weekend of playing. The Longest Journey manages to combine 3D movement very well compared to one of the first ventures in to 3D point and click adventures, Grim Fandango, there is very little sign of characters getting stuck in places and movement is all done via the mouse with no keyboard or joypad interaction necessary. The only concern I had on the gameplay side was the fact that some of the conversations did tend to go on a bit too long early on in the game, but that kind of thing stopped bothering me the more I got into the story.

Graphics, Sound & Music

What can I say, The Longest Journey is gorgeous to look at right from the start. It manages to blend 3D and 2D pre-rendered backgrounds very well and the style is excellent throughout. Almost every location is detailed, animated and full of other characters going about their business. A number of locations scroll along the further you walk to the edge of the screen and the way in which the background and foregrounds move is excellently handled.

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The 3D characters are very well animated and beautifully detailed, but as is the problem with games that only run in 640x480 (Not too bad in adventures) the 3D can get a little blocky the further the characters are away from the screen. Thankfully though, you get so engrossed in the game you don't really notice. Cutscenes crop up during the game too - and these are superbly done and you hardly notice them as they hardly ever take longer than a millisecond to load up and they also don't go on for ages like in some games...These cutscenes are just right and again they are wonderful to look at.

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As I mentioned earlier - The Longest Journey is packed full of hours of speech all of which is very well acted out, especially by the woman who does the voice of the main character April. Orchestral music plays in the background in many scenes, although there isn't quite as much music as I would have liked to have heard during the game, sound effects are again excellent, from the running water to the sound of the subways.

Final Comments

How It Grades
  Originality: 87%
Gameplay: 92%
Story: 90%
Graphics: 91%
Cutscenes: 92%
Sound: 92%
Music: 92%
Manual: 85%
Interface: 87%
Multiplayer: N/A
Overall: 91%

 

I have been playing The Longest Journey every day since it arrived here for review and I can safely say that anyone who likes point and click adventures with great stories will love the game just as much as I do. Point and click adventures don't get much better than this.

 

Specs & Package
Overall Score 91%
Version Reviewed English Final Build 142
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 4 CD's
1 Manual
The Good Points Mixes 3D and 2D well
Lots Of Puzzles
Great graphics
Great Music and Sound
Excellent story
The Bad Points Speech can sometimes drag on
Characters can get blocky further away from the screen
Similar To Grim Fandango
Reviewers PC Setup Pentium II 450
Windows 98 Second Edition
128 Meg SD-Ram
Matrox G400 32MB AGP Graphics Card
DirectX 7a
SoundBlaster Live! Value
17" LG Electronics Monitor
Microsoft Force Feedback Pro
Microsoft Game Pad Pro (USB)
Microsoft Digital Sound System 80
Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer

DVD TV Player - Pioneer DV-626D
Widescreen TV - Sony KV-28WS2U 28"
DVD-ROM: Toshiba SD-1202

PC Required Windows 95/98
Pentium 200
32 mb ram
4x cd rom Drive
Mouse and Keyboard
640*480 SVGA high colour (16bit) video card with 2mb ram
Windows compatible sound device
400 mb free hard drive space

 

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