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Night Watch review

This Russian thriller adaptation gets lost in translation

Like most turn-based strategy games, you'll get an unlimited amount of time to make your decisions. The amount of actions (moving through the level and physical attacks) you'll be able to perform depends on how many Action Points (AP) you have. Similarly, magical feats are dependent on your EP, or Energy Points. Finally, Vitality Points (VP) represent you and your teammates' overall health.

While this all seems fairly straightforward, the world of Night Watch contains an important twist: a parallel universe called the Gloom that changes all the rules. In the Gloom, you are visible only to Others also in that plane (normal humans can't enter the Gloom). Your magical attacks strike harder, and cost less energy to perform. However, the Gloom sucks down your magical energy (EP) while you reside there, eventually killing you if you stay long enough, so it's merely a temporary advantage. But the Gloom offers distinct tactical advantages besides invisibility. For example, you'll also be able to pass through many locked doors just by traveling through the Gloom.

You are initially instructed by Olga, a powerful Light Mage who was the leading man's partner (Anton Gorodetsky) in the cinematic release. Sadly, we don't see Anton during the game, but leaders of both the Light and Dark Others - the enigmatic Geser and evil freak Zavulon - appear and play an integral part of Stas's account of what happens between the first two novels (and movies).

The Russian to English translation of the original movie was a delight, with genius use of captioning and stylish, tight interpretation of Lukyanenko's original fiction. We get none of that in the game version. The stiff dialog and sloppy, unoriginal writing take a back seat only to the graphically dated presentation of the game's characters. The game is built on top of a stripped-down, three-plus year old Silent Storm engine - and it shows.

Mismatched voice volumes and poor lip synching also plague the game, but the publisher has promised a patch due out during the second week of July that we hope will alleviate those concerns.

More Info

DescriptionThe Russian born-and-bred novel became a blockbuster movie, and now a turn-based strategy RPG of sorts.
US censor ratingTeen
Release date26 June 2006 (US), 26 June 2006 (UK)