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    Gabriel Knight III

    By: Terry "DysoN" Martin

     

    System Requirements

    Minimum
    Pentium 166 with 3D card with 4MB+ RAM
    Pentium 233 without 3D card, 32MB RAM
    SVGA at 16 bit High Color
    Windows Compatible sound card

    Recommended
    Pentium II 266MHz
    2nd generation 3D card

     Test machine
    PII 300MHz, 64SD RAM, Riva TNT 16MB

     

    Story

    The game starts out with you coming out of a train at night, looking like you’ve been hit severely on the head. You talk to an officer and you ask if he has seen two men with a baby. The officer says that it is late at night, and you have better get your rest. He safely takes you to a hotel room. You, by the way, in Paris, France.

    If you haven’t read the Prologue, you, with the slightest doubt, will be completely lost, not knowing what you’re doing in Paris or whom you’re chasing. In order to fully understand what’s going on, you must read the Prologue, which can be found on your GK3 Game Box. I’ll briefly explain the game’s prologue and perhaps as to why you ended up being in Paris.

    Your name’s Knight. Gabriel Knight.

    Grace tells you that Prince James of Albany has invited you to Paris. You, sadly, tell her that you have never heard of him. Grace, with the help of SIDNEY (Schattenjager Information Database), looks up some vital information about him. She tells you that he’s the current Stewart heir—whatever that meant, you didn’t really care. Grace urges you to go, meeting a real European society. Grace tries to get more info at this point…

    You arrive in Paris with Grace. A person you have never met or seen greets you.

    You were invited to a dinner party. The evening starts off with strange conversations—it seems that you were the center of attention on that night. It quickly skips from the dinner party to a hotel room, interestingly enough, with Grace.

    Click image to enlargeA strange man suddenly opens your hotel door, asking if he could speak with you… alone. Strangely enough, he says that the Stewarts’ are an old family—for a long time they have been plagued by a kind of… anemia. The Stewarts’ have unusual ‘episodes.’ They awake in the morning exhausted and pale. Upon their examination, it was evident that they were suffering from severe anemia. They gradually recover from this but it happens again—sometimes within months, sometimes not for years. Could this be a medical problem? ‘Tis quite early to tell.

    The man shows you a picture of a child bitten by a vampire (well, it clearly is evident that the child was). You prudently ask if there was a trace of any assailant. "No" was the man’s answer, "over the centuries they have tried guards, dogs, locked rooms…" he quickly adds, "guards and dogs fall asleep. Locks are broken. Nothing stops it."

    This might seem like it does not make any sense—trust me, it takes awhile to figure out.

    You ask if they need your help to protect the man. "Not me. There is someone I want you to meet" was his answer…

    Click image to enlarge"Thank you, Mesmi. This is my son, Charles. My first child." That gave you a strange feeling that you must baby-sit, rather protect this newborn child. It gets worse from hereon… the man (Prince James) doesn’t expect you to understand, but when it was his own suffering, he could accept the… ‘Night visitors,’ as he calls them. Your job was to protect the baby from these ‘night visitors.’ You give your word of promise as Prince James leaves the vicinity. Later that night, you worry about these visitors showing up; you could be sitting up there for months. To your dismay, you find Grace asleep, as well as the guard dog. Your amulet shines with a illuminating gold flash… the ‘night visitors’ have arrived. Before you could have even moved, the figure was gone—and so was the baby…

    You boldly chase after this dark figure on your motorcycle on a warm Paris night. To make matters more intriguing and ultimately add more to the confusion, would be you chasing a car. Heh. At times, when your headlights penetrate the car, you see two figures—two men. The chase ends at a train station… the car is empty! Where have the two men have gone? You ask someone if they saw two men and a baby. This person directly points at Number 4. I assumed that this was a train number. You check the train for any signs of the baby. You see a dark silhouette a few feet from you… you ask if he found a bag that you lost… without your consent, this figure hits you with a wooden weapon, inevitably knocking you out unconscious…

    Your Quest

    Click image to enlargeAfter understanding the rather complex (not quite) story, and waking up on your own hotel room, you must begin your adventure to recover the baby, but a far, deeper and more frightening story begins to unravel while doing so. Rumors of a buried treasure by the ancients, vampires sets you to an inescapable path—to intricately solve the mystery of the Stewarts’ mysterious anemia disease. Perhaps going in depth to your surroundings, trying to ultimately find the answer to an ancient secret meant to stay hidden forever. Your mission as a Schattenjager is never quite done. Be wary, once you find the truth there is no erasing it (this, by the way, is your third case you’re investigating).

    Game Menu

    Click image to enlargeWhen you right click the screen (inside the game), it brings up the game’s toolbar. From the toolbar, you can easily access your Inventory, Room Cameras, Hints, Help, Game Options, and Cinematic Camera toggle. You also see your current game score, currently selected inventory item and the current timeblock, which I will discuss later on. I will briefly discuss these toolbar options:

    Inventory – this brings up Gabriel’s or Grace’s inventory. Left clicking on the items in the inventory will bring up a ‘verb-chooser’ giving you options you can do with each item.
    Room Cameras – this gives you a "thumbnail" view of up to six preset cameras in each room. You can use these cameras to move quickly around the room—quite useful on low-end machines. Please take note that these cameras don’t necessarily show everything important in a room.
    Hints – the game does not quite provide hints for every puzzle, but for Grace’s SIDNEY puzzle sequence starting around day 2, there will be hints available. You also can get hints on the driving map, however, using this will cause the locations to flash where you still have a required activity left in that timeblock. Take note that other times, hints will be disabled.
    Help button – brings up screens describing the main controls in the game, including keyboard shortcuts and camera movement.
    Cinematic Cameras – this option allows you to turn on or off the automatic camera cuts that happen when you (Gabriel) or Grace are performing an action or engaged in a conversation. With this option turned off, you will be able to move the camera freely around the room, or watch a scene from a different angle. Having this option turned on is the recommended way of playing GK3.

    Game Options – by clicking this, it opens three options available to you:

    • Save – clicking this takes you to the Save game screen. I assume that I don’t need to go to a much more detailed and comprehensive review talking about the Save option.
    • Restore – this takes you to the Restore game screen. This option, of course, allows you to load a saved game.
    • Volume – this will change the volume of all sounds in the game at once. This also can be controlled from the sound options.

    Ah, before I continue any further, there are many more of these sub-menus. From the ‘Advanced Option’ field, you have: Sound Option, Graphics Option. I’m not here to give a tutorial or a lecture about these sub-menus, now onto the review.

    Graphics

    Click image to enlargeGK3’s engine handles graphics quite well. The game world is immersing with stunningly beautiful, detailed graphics. They are quite awe-inspiring to see from a Mystery/Adventure game. The way you move the camera through the world is quite smooth; of course, this will indefinitely be decided to how good your video card can accelerate them. Sierra has put so much backbreaking work to make the graphics what they are—beauty defines this, very masterful work for a game. Am I missing anything? Oh, yeah. They severely lack realism.

    Despite the game’s wonderful graphics, they don’t have any realistic feel. It’s as if the graphics are stationary—never moving, unless an action is done. Heck, even if an action is done, nothing much changes. Take a tree in the game as an example, it just stands there, lifeless, completely devoid of life. This same problem goes with the textures, buildings, and perhaps doors!

    Ah, a detailed world? Perhaps. The game world lacks detail, believe it or not ladies and gents. Not only does the game world lack details (further explained in the review), but as I’ve already mentioned in one of the paragraphs, they also lack a realism feel. They’re, sadly, just an accident waiting to happen.

    When I said that the game world lacked detail, well, this isn’t entirely correct, perhaps a bit exaggerated. Beauty describes this game in many ways. The game doesn’t feel real, has an artificial feel to it, as with other games you feel like you’re exactly amidst of enemy fire, or feel like you’re really in the game. GK3 doesn’t do any of these. So, what about the game’s detail? Ah. They don’t necessarily lack any sort of detail to them—it’s just that sometimes you would think to yourself, "Hmmm. This building right here… needs more detail." You would get that feeling—sometimes, anyway. The game doesn’t suffer from clipping problems, though the models do, will be explained later on.

    Models/Animations

    Click image to enlargeThe game’s models are quite astonishing, rather amazing, from top to bottom. The models are great to look at, not only because of the details, but also because of the animations. The animations are impressive. Faces are highly detailed, you can even see, during a cutscene, the mouth moving with accuracy, as they talk, is very intriguing to watch. However, problems I’ve noticed were the model arms. They’re not detailed—looks like they’re missing a helluva lot of polygons and miss out on detail. You, obviously, will see that. The models, almost all the time, don’t repeat their movements. It would be a shame if it had done so. Give Sierra a pat on the back for the game’s intricate looking models and facial animations.

    The way they (the models) interact with the world is very realistic to a large extent. As anyone would clearly notice, they sometimes suffer from clipping problems, hopefully it wouldn’t bother you; you hardly see these problems, anyway. Phew. Nothing to worry about, huh? Indeed.

    Music

    Click image to enlargeThe music is rather vague, but somehow fits well in the game. Sometimes, you would feel that you are actually in the place. The game, sometimes, would play a spooky music… nothing like a good freaky music to set you in the right mood, especially in this Mystery/Adventure game. I’m not entirely sure, but it’s hard to notice if the music is repetitively looped or not, it probably is, but it would be hard to notice when it ends and when it begins again. You wouldn’t nor would reviewers complain about GK3’s music. It’s well done, and sets the tone and mood for a scene.

    Sound

    Gk3 sports some tremendous, realistic, and comprehensive sound. The sound, though realistic, doesn’t feel right. As said above, the game doesn’t feel very real, more of an artificial than real. In turn, the game doesn’t necessarily suffer; it just doesn’t feel real. Take a motorcycle as an example… sure, it sounds realistic… does it really? The sounds were quite believable—not quite top-notch, but come close. GK3’s in-game speech further backs this up.

    In-game speech

    Click image to enlargeWow! GK3 has the most impressive voice acting. GK3’s voice acting was done quite well, even beyond professional level, well, perhaps (for those of you that have GK3—you would know that I’m making a sarcastic comment about the voice acting, as it is not above professional level). The motion of characters moving their mouths with animation makes conversations interesting, not dull and boring. This intrigued me. Speeches don’t lack emotion, as it was with Infrogames’ Silver. Each time a conversation is fired up, the music changes, this adds up with the excellent voice acting, however, most of these characters are French speaking—even Gabriel himself has quite an astonishing accent. The accent(s) are quite noticeable on every character, except for Grace (she doesn’t have one—odd for an Asian girl).

    They way the characters express themselves within the game is perplexing beyond belief. If you add the game’s speech, sound, and music, you’ll be initially impressed. Are GK3’s speeches top-notch? You could, I suppose, say that. Oh, yeah. I failed to mention that the in-game speech isn’t really top-notch, they are merely above average. Heh, I’m afraid I exaggerated again—yes, GK3’s voice acting is top-notch. Sierra has done great job-hiring professionals for doing the voice-overs.

    Gameplay

    Click image to enlargeAs a Schattenjager, meaning, "shadow hunter," you are to guard Prince James’ son from these ‘night visitors.’ Rest assured, as you probably have read from the Prologue, Prince James’ son is abducted that same night. You chase after these visitors, you end up being knocked unconscious, and you awaken in a nearby village in Paris. It’s not an ordinary village, mind you—stories of a Holy Grail, Templars, vampires, treasures and modern mysteries surround the village.

    You must definitely use cunning sneaking techniques, question possible suspects, inspect, in order to solve and advance through the story. GK3 is a 3D world, which means you could almost do anything in the game. Areas of the game are separated into different districts, most often; you can see parts of a town, but in order to get to a specific area, you must travel there, and wait for the area to load. The load time isn’t embarrassingly long, but certainly is tolerable.

    The church... Hey!  Who turned off the lights?

    Click image to enlargeThe way the camera is handled is very unique (and the way it’s controlled). You aren’t restricted to a particular area of the game, the camera is free to ‘fly’ wherever you wish. This, of course, is handled using the keyboard. You can use the D-pad (left arrow, right arrow, top arrow, bottom arrow) to move the camera. You can set this up however you please (I have it as the standard WASD controls from… Quake). You can manipulate, uh, rather do other things to it; ie – by holding the CTRL key, this allows you to make a sidestep movement (the camera does, not Gabriel) with the help of the arrow keys. Another keypoint that helps you flawlessly move the camera faster is to use the mouse, by holding the left mouse button and holding the right mouse button and make a movement to your left or right, makes the game much faster, though it takes time to get used to. The camera is very advantageous, too. Instead of waiting for Gabriel to walk (the game doesn’t have a ‘run’ option) over a certain area, the game will "warp" Gabriel to the area (only when the camera is pointed to it). Another way to speed up the game significantly is by pressing the ESC key, Gabriel or Grace will immediately skip to the area where you wanted them to go. Do not do this to a cutscene, you will most certainly miss out on what’s going on.

    Everything in GK3 is interactive, from tables, books, cups… everything is interactive. When you left click on an item, a ‘verb-chooser’ menu appears over the item and/or character. The ‘verb-chooser’s’ main tools are: Inspect (which zooms to that object or character), and Look (this lets Gabriel or Grace comment on the selected object or character). Other tools include Talk (which lets you either comment or speak to a character). When you engage in a conversation (sometimes could be long lectures), it brings up a picture menu of all possible topics to talk about. The rest are Eat, Think (gives you clues to a certain puzzle, and sometimes could help you to think about what to do next), Smell (ie – smell the toilet), Pick Up (lets the player pick up the object), and finally the Lock/Unlock option. The open/unlock option lets you either, obviously, lock or unlock a briefcase, doors, etc. When you start playing the game, it takes a minute or two to get used to these options. (Keep in mind that not all these options are available at the same time.)

    GK3 is a real adventure game, for adventure fanatics. If you have a knack for intricate puzzles, riddles, insane mind bending tasks, this game is for you. GK3, however, isn’t a combination of both FPS and Action—this is a Mystery/Adventure game, damnit!

    Click image to enlargeA lot of GK3’s puzzles are hard to solve, and in this review, I will give an example. While talking to the owner of a moped (‘mow-ped’) rental shop about trying to rent a bike of your own, the owner asks you for a passport. You show him your passport, and he takes his time looking over something posted on a wall. He says that you are not with the tour group and rejects your offer for a decent bike, he instead offers you a below average bike. I needed a disguise and someone from the tour group’s passport… but how? That took so much thinking it literally gave me a migraine headache. I figured it out, though. There are some puzzles that would leave the casual gamer saying, "what the f*ck?" repeatedly. Take your time with this game, it’s well worth it.

    GK3 is split into "timeblocks." There are required activities for each timeblock, and after completing all of these activities, you will progress to the next timeblock. These required activities could be anything from talking to a character about a certain topic to picking up a certain object. For example, the first timeblock is Day 1, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. That means that as you are playing that timeblock, all activities will happen in the "game world" between 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. That does NOT mean that you only have two hours in your time to finish that timeblock.

    Click image to enlargeLike most traditional adventure games, you'll find yourself walking around, talking to the people you see, and clicking on, picking up any and every item that's lying around. The detective spin of Gabriel Knight 3 kicks in with the gameplay—at certain points throughout the game you'll have to spy on the other characters, find creative ways to break into their rooms, record conversations, and even lift fingerprints off of items with a fingerprint kit. What can you do with all these evidence? Analyze it with a computer could be an obvious answer, and it most certainly is in this Adventure game.

    After Day 1, you will have access to SIDNEY (Schattenjager Information Database). SIDNEY functions like a real computer. It has options to analyze maps, photos, make fake I.D.s, browse for a relevant subject for the case, even translate other languages to English. When using the browse option, it gives you a web-style format to search for a subject; ie – typing "Templars" will give you result(s) regarding the subject. Pretty nifty. You, of course, will not be spending a lot of time on SIDNEY as you have other places to go, mainly driving around the mysterious valley of Rennes-le-Chateau, searching for clues, talking to people, to name a few. You will never be bored of the town, there are simply too many things to do and too many places to go to keep you occupied. There are a few towns in the game that are actually based on real life locations in France.

    Bottom Line

    Click image to enlargeIf you’re a die-hard fan of the first two hit Gabriel Knight series… then this game’s definitely for you. If you are not a die-hard fan, but still love Adventure games with great graphics, solid voice acting, and intriguing gameplay—this game is a must. GK3 has a fascinating complex plot that’s truly based on real history. GK3 is a fine game that makes up for hours of amusing entertainment.

    Do not get GK3 if you’re not an adventure fanatic of any sort. With the sometimes overly difficult puzzles stopping your advancement into the game, this could be a hard game to beat for veterans and fans alike. Don’t worry about model problems, clipping problems and the trees, etc., having a lifeless feel. Those can range from minor to anywhere from middle to severe. They are not troublesome and certainly wouldn’t cause the game to be thrown out.

    Pros:
    Great graphics
    Professional voice acting
    Complex and fascinating story
    Nice job of using the interface
    Camera is incorporated into the game quite well
    Learning the game isn’t a complex and convoluted matter

    Cons:
    Puzzles can be impossible; ie – having a disguise to get a decent bike
    Clipping problems
    Models lacking polygons
    Trees and the likes are completely devoid of lifeBuildings, textures, etc., sometimes lack detail

    << Rating: 80 >>
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