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Edward Carnby, the supernatural detective is back! And this time he\'s out for revenge. His best friend, Charles Fiske has been found dead off a mysterious island near the coast of Maine, Shadow Island. The investigation quickly leads him to Fred Johnson who informs him of Fiske\'s search for the three ancient tablets that have the ability to unlock an incredible and dangerous power. Johnson pleads with Carnby to take the place of Fiske and reopen the investigation in order to recover the tablets. Carnby accepts the mission as his life\'s goal to find and destroy the murderer of Fiske and avenge his death.
From his first steps on Shadow Island in the cold night of winter, Carnby is immediately confronted by mysterious and evil creatures, which seem utterly determined to stop his progress. Stricken with a terrible sense of anguish and paranoia, few remaining people on the island cross Carnby\'s path. Fear lurks around every corner, within every shadow. Encompassing the island rests a somber mansion filled with endless traps and deep shadows. Each and every shadow could hide the deepest secret, or the worst nightmare. Who and what is hidden on this somber island? Which invaluable secret is covered under its depths? When will Carnby end this horrible nightmare?
For those of you unaccustomed to the horror/strategy genre then gameplay basically involves guiding a chosen character through a series of spooky scenarios, finding keys to unlock new areas, collecting and solving a range of puzzles and clues, while intermittently shooting various deformed beasties along the way.
The link between computer games and film grows ever nearer. Blending stunning visuals, cinematic music score, realistic sounds and impressive camera work the opening CG scenes could easily advertise an upcoming blockbuster movie serving to set the scene of this horror/thriller superbly. From the instant Edward Carnby and Aline Cedrac set foot on Shadow Island, mysterious, evil creatures seem intent on thwarting their progress to recover 3 ancient Indian tablets (vindaloo, madras and tikka… hehehe), believed to hold the secret key to some incredible menacing phenomena.
Once you get through all of the icing its time to taste the cake, but first… choose a game character to play. Edward the Private Eye, who we are reliably informed owns a double barrel gun (make of that what you will), or buxom Ethnology professor Aline who owns a mighty fine wiggle. The main difference between then is actually quite sexist for the 21st Century as \'big tough man\' tells \'shaky frightened lady\' to go hide in a creepy mansion until he gets to her aid. Regardless, the game should be played through by both characters as they each offer an alternative route, different storyline and many different clues and weapons.
Visually it would be incorrect to say that Alone In The Dark 4 (AITD4) is \'pretty as a peach\'… after all, most of the game takes place in a semi-lit dingy environment. However, each playable character carries a torch that barely illuminates the immediate area (ala Silent Hill), increasing the nervous tension threefold of what may, or may not lie ahead in the shadows. The impressive scenery appears to have been loaned from the Resident Evil set, while the characters and creatures look satisfactory.
The atmosphere is further increased by the well-directed camera angles. Positioned in front of the character when you really want to see what it is that lies ahead making that squidgy scuffling sound, and then switching to a more helpful position when the initial scare is over and combat begins. On occasion the viewing perspective switches from third person to first… only it\'s not YOUR eyes that the view is coming from. It\'s someone peeping at you through a distant broken window. Another nice touch was the occasional tilted camera angle, which brought back memories of Kubrick\'s awesome Shining. Creepy!
As in all good horror flicks the sound effects can make or break a production and here the combination of music and sound creates as tense an atmosphere I have ever experienced from a video game. It\'s obvious that a great deal of time has been spent researching some of the classic movies as \'Omen style\' choirs pitch over a heart pounding \'John Carpenter style\' rhythm. In fact I wasn\'t in the least bit surprised to discover that ex-Police drummer Stuart Copeland was the man behind the tunes as movie soundtracks are now his forte.
Gameplay sticks rigidly to the tried and tested horror formula… push statue, find code, combine items in inventory, etc. Meanwhile the action comes in intermittent heart-stopping bursts rather than a constant frag-fest. It\'s the waiting for something that \'doesn\'t\' happen that proves scarier than when it actually does. For example, a short cut-scene shows a pack of rabid dogs breaking free from their unstable chains. Now instead of them going straight in for the kill they head for the shadows and persist in stalking their prey. You wish they would get it over quickly… but no chance of that.
· Choose between game characters Edward Carnby or Aline Cedrac.
· 2 totally different, but equally terrifying adventures, combined in one spooky island.
· Over 20 characters, in a chilling atmosphere, deep in cinematic production and realism.
· Face frightening creatures such as the Arachnocide and the Night Ripper, a monster from the deep that only comes out after midnight.
· Apart from the usual pistols, triple-barrel shotgun and rocket launcher, you get to enjoy tasty weapons of destruction such as the Photopulsor, Plasma torch and Lightening gun.
1 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
Up to 1 Players (without Multi-tap)
Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility
REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:
We promise that we have fully played 'Alone in the Dark 4' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)
00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.
60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.
70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.
80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.
A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.
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