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blehman avatar 12:40 PM on 10.20.2008  (server time)
(Late)Bleh-view: Lost: Via Domus

[Writer's note: Yes, I know this is an older game, but with it being cheaper, and me borrowing it, I figured a review wouldn't seem so out of order now, would it? Besides, it gives a few extra days to space out for the Dead Space review forthcoming.]

Everyone knows movie licenses and video games don't mix. Apparently there's some unwritten rule to where the developers who make these games make them to sell to people that don't seem to know any better and parents. But what about television shows? I seem to have bittersweet memories from days long past of good cartoon video game adaptations, but how would one make a prime-time television show into a game, especially one with such a rich and complex storyline such as Lost? More importantly, does it suck and is it worth spending the money on now that its been out for a while?

Lost: Via Domus is the story of an previously unknown castaway by the name of...well, you'll figure it out eventually. The plot revolves around your character, a photojournalist, who wakes up after the plane crashes with an awkward case of amnesia. You spend the rest of the game trying to figure out who you are, why people are trying to kill you, all the while trying to make your way off the island. All in all the storyline is mostly well done, not putting you too far in the 'good guys' way, as well as not integrating you too far into the main story line to where questions would be raised. Kind've a Nicki and Paulo thing with less paralysis and more picture taking. Also, less whining. Well, relatively less whining. Also, more suspicion.

Like the show, or more specifically the first seventy days of the show, the story takes place in two separate areas: on the island in island time and in the past in the form of flashbacks. The island part of the game is played by basically running around, talking to other castaways, and fetching things to carry from one castaway to another, or to some other place. During the island part you're free to explore around the partial island, exploring such diverse walled in areas such as the Black Rock, several Dharma stations, the beach, and the Hatch. Apparently the wiring has gone bad in every indoor location too, as collecting fuses and integrating them into circuit boards is the only puzzle mechanic in the game, and while well done, is too easy and too spread out to be very difficult. The flashback parts of the game consist of you taking a picture of a certain event, and searching for memories that can help you to remember who you are and what you're doing. While initially confusing, once you figure out what you're looking for the flashbacks are a nice change of pace from the rest of the game.

I don't remember any scary gun toting scenes...

Graphically the game looks very nice with the exception of most of the character models and faces. The jungle setting is appropriately lush, too lush in some places as a matter of fact, as you can't always tell which way is further into the jungle and which way is an artificial wall. And let me tell you, there's some artificial walls. I don't remember the beach being blocked off on both sides by debris that just happens to form a blockade from jungle to water, but I also remember that people happen to be able to walk through shallow water and swim, so I don't know why they felt that was the best way to represent the barriers. The indoor locations feel spot on, and it was fun being able to play through and see how they felt as opposed to just being able to see them. The characters are the real low point however, as some look good, and some look really bad. It feels like they got about half the models done and just decided to wing the rest. They're overly blocky, move awkwardly, and just don't seem to have the polish that others do. And Hurley scares the crap out of me.

Now, unfortunately, on to the absolute weakest part of the game, the voice acting. For six of the characters they had the actual actors come in and do voice work. These characters, for the twenty or so minutes of the game they're actually involved in, sound great. Unfortunately, the majority of the characters for the majority of the game are stand-ins. Several of them sound pretty good, as Jin speaks Korean well, and Hurley sounds kiiiinda like himself, but once you hear the main characters, you'll laugh(or groan). I don't know who thought giving Locke's role to a Native American was, but it really throws off all his dialog. If the protagonist's name was Tommy, I would never have been able to finish this game. Jack and Sayid are apparently potheads, as the paranoia that seeps out of them is tangible, even with Sayid's "scary whisper" voice being all that he uses. And Sawyer just sounds know what, just don't talk to Sawyer.

Is this game for you? Depends. Are you an action game fan, or a platforming game fan? Then this isn't for you. First or third person shooter fan? Nope. RPG nerd? Skip it. Lost aficionado? A definite maybe, depending on how much you like the show or not.

In the end I found myself liking Via Domus. While not really adding anything to the mix, or explaining anything, it was fun to run around and explore the Lost island. The stand alone story isn't the best, but it's a good little tale worthy of a weekend play through. For the price I can't suggest buying it, even at $29.99, but a rental isn't out of the question, and a ten dollar price point would even see me pick it up, therefore I give Lost: Via Domus a C7368/E289

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