Oct 23, 2007
Diehards will know this is not Barker’s first foray into pixels and polygons, he’s already dabbled in the genre with the PC adventure, Clive Barker’s Undying and the oft-talked about among horrorites, Demonik that was once being tinkered with by the same crew behind BloodRayne (eek!) before being canned. Now the Scouse scarer has teamed up with Codemasters for this, Jericho, a sort of sickly supernatural “middle finger” to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six shooters slathered nicely with his own disgustingly unique brand of gore, scares and unholy parables.
Barker throws them all at us; skinless demons, S&M Nazis, cyst-covered monsters and blood-spewing hellhounds with faces that bare a striking resemblance to the female anatomy. They even spew scalding blood; very akin to a seething woman. Everything you could ever not want to meet is in here making for one deliciously devilish fright fest that first-person shooter fans and gore hounds will absolutely lap up when it hits shelves. So colour us excited because Barker and Codemasters have pulled it out of the bag. And now it’s dripping all over us. Gross.
Unfurling across an intensely whopping 32 chapters, Jericho is one tough bastard that will kick your ass if you don’t pay attention. Barker and Mercury Steam hurl nasties at you left, right and centre making for some frantic firefights that in some cases are won over by trail and error and ample utilisation of your simple, but neatly effective squad-based commands, all of which are controlled by simple taps of the D-pad. Left and right determine which squad you want to use (Alpha or Omega); up and down hurling out advance and halt commands to your squad of trigger happy misfits. Of course, you can make it through the game with little or no consideration for these commands but the chances of your squad mates croaking it at every turn increase tenfold, so be warned.
You see, everyone in the Jericho Squad isn’t just good with a firearm; they play home to a number of arcane abilities that you have to master and use in tandem with a smoking gun barrel. More on this in a moment. What happens next, though, is an ingenious little storytelling one-two punch from Barker that sees Ross butchered before his squad eyes by a bat-winged, razor-taloned Hell creature. And despite being shuffled loose the mortal coil, Ross is very much alive in the spirit world, possessing the bodies of his six-man (and woman) team at will, which is at first a little nauseating, but secondly Jericho’s major hook that sets it aside from other squad-based shooters and allows you to mix things up on the battlefield.
With six characters to soul surf between, there’s a meaty wedge of firepower and superpowers on offer. There’s Lt. Abigail Black; sniper and telekinetic who can control her bullet for precision hits; Sgt Frank Delgado, lunkhead with a chaingun and the ability to wield flames thanks to a fire parasite that lives in his arm and Sgt Billie Church, raven-haired samurai sword-brandishing slicer and dicer with the power of blood magic. Then there’s Jones; astral projector, handy with a sub-machine gun; Simone Cole, baby of the gang rigged up to a supersuit that slows down time, loads up team members with ammo and has the ability to find weak spots in enemies.
From here, Jericho sees you jump from body-to-body over the course of the four subsequent timeframes including 1942 World War II, the Crusades of 1213, Roman Provinces in 38 AD and Sumeria 3000 BC. The game is quite simple in its structure, requiring you to move from checkpoint to checkpoint battling grotesque ghouls, moving on and eventually coming face-to-face with an end-of-level boss like Lichthammer the skinless Nazi bitch, Vicus the bulbous orgy-addicted cannibal who spews blood at you from a gaping wound in his stomach or Bishop Maltheus and his army of undead child crusaders.
It’s not without its annoying moments though. Some of the squad members have a habit of getting themselves repeatedly creamed, like Rawlins for example. He’s supposed to be the healer in game but we found ourselves bailing him out of sticky situations time and time again in the heat of battle. And for some strange reason, whenever you encounter a new enemy, they have this uncanny ability to know which character you are controlling, sending them straight for you while your squad pauses before unleashing backup.
Worst of all, though, was the game's ending. We don’t want to spoil it for you, but let’s just say it was too flaccid a payoff for a Clive Barker story.
Still, what it does do and do superbly well is create a horrifically brilliant atmosphere thanks to plush level design from the very start that shoehorns in everything from crumpled castles, dank darkly lit corridors, huge gladiatorial arenas and ancient Sumerian towers. And all this is coolly backed up by a beat perfect score from God of War composer Cris Velasco that, with the right setup, adds a whole new layer of jitters.
Jericho isn't a groundbreaking shooter, but what it does, it does really well. Sadly, there’s no online content here, just a slew of production art to unlock by completing skill tests in the game - making for a sound FPS that will have horror geeks gagging for more and shooter fans reaching for the sick bag.