Version tested: PC
System Requirements - P166 or P233 without 3d card Windows compatible sound card 32Mb RAM 4x CD-Rom drive
Gabriel Knight Strikes Again
After two top selling games, Gabriel Knight has returned in the third instalment of this award winning adventure series. With Jane Jensen once again behind the engrossing story line, "Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred Blood of the Damned" promises to be a great adventure...
With the disappearance of the son of a prince, Gabriel is called in to help and soon finds himself on a train through France hot on the trail of the kidnappers. As usual things go wrong, and Gabriel soon finds himself on the wrong end of a heavy object, only to awake in a hotel in a small French village called Rennes-le-Chateau.
Once awake you have free rein over the whole village and the ability to talk to virtually everyone that you see. You can very quickly determine that something isn't quite right with this pleasant looking town, and with tourists looking for everything from the buried treasure of the Knights Templar to the Holy Grail, there is a lot more going on in Rennes-le-Chateau than meets the eye.
Some old characters return as well, namely Grace Nakamura, and Gabe's old cop chum Moseley. It's always good to have recurring characters, as it does help make the game feel that little bit more friendly for players familiar with the previous games in the series.
As is common to all adventure games from Sierra, there is a points system to give the player some idea that he/she is "doing the right thing". With a massive total of 965 points to earn, GK3 is no walk over.
The game is also split into 3 days, each one consisting of 2 hour periods, and in order to progress you must complete all the required tasks. This can certainly become a little annoying, as missing just the smallest item will send you running round the village looking for what to do like the proverbial village idiot.
Check Out The Talent
Being a Gabriel Knight game, there is a fair bit of talking between the various characters. And inevitably there are a few well known names that make up some of the cast.
Tim Curry reprises his extremely annoying southern drawl as Gabriel - think nasal Forrest Gump meets Cameron Po, Nick Cage's character in Con Air. Other stars that lend their vocal talents to the game are Rene Auberjonois and John de Lancie (known to any trekkers as Odo[DS9] and Q[TNG] respectively).
Another point of note regarding vocal talent is the lip synching. It may not be entirely accurate, but when Gabriel and the other talk their lips seem to move incredibly realistically, which is a nice touch. As is the random blinking of each character.
Usually in an adventure game you are stuck with very static scenes and very little control over the camera. In GK3, not only are all the rooms fully 3d accelerated, you also have total control over the camera. In fact, moving Gabriel around doesn't effect your view at all (until you change scenes).
By providing the user with control over a free camera, you can go virtually anywhere you like, and look around things without having to wait for Gabriel to get there.
Generally the scenes themselves are well drawn, but are geometrically quite simple. Fortunately though the designers have covered up a lack of complexity with some detailed texturing, which further adds to the ambience of the quaint little town that you are stuck in.
The engine doesn't actually require any 3D acceleration to run, which is nice, as far too many games will only run with some serious graphics power - I should start a "bring back software rendering" campaign... But given a suitably powerful piece of 3D hardware, GK3 will take full advantage of it and allow you to run in any resolution and bit depth that your hardware can support. It is certainly a treat to play at 1024x768 in 32bit colour.
There are some serious limitations to the game though. Due to the room/scene based nature of the game, when moving from one scene to another there is a significant loading delay, which is unacceptable in my opinion (yes, I found Half-Life to be just as annoying). This seriously impacts on the games fluidity, and it certainly made me feel more than a little tired at having to wait five to ten seconds just to go from the lobby to the dining room...
GK3 is a superb game with a truly deep story. Couple this with a rather good looking graphics engine, some great dialogue, detailed environments, and an all round attention to detail, and you have a great game. Unfortunately though, thanks to the nature of the adventure system and the pauses while loading scenes, the game can become tedious at times.
Rest assured though, Gabriel Knight fans will love this game, and for anyone wanting to get their teeth into some serious adventure gaming I can thoroughly recommend GK3. Release Date - available now
7 / 10