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The first time I came into contact with the prime scenes of Under a Killing Moon, it was at the CES in Chicago last June. I can still recall my reaction upon exiting the booth where Access performed the demonstration. "Incredible!", "That's the most beautiful game I have ever seen!", I exclaimed continuously until the end of the show.
Finally, after waiting several more months, during which time we learnt that the game would henceforth hold on 4 CD-Roms, here it is, the finest adventure game ever created for the PC.
Under a Killing Moon (UAKM) is not a classic adventure game like the highly acclaimed titles from Sierra On-Line, LucasArts and other companies. Extremely innovative in several aspects, it incorporates an easy-to-use interface consisting of a qualified "interactive" mode and one other called "Movement mode".
In the first mode, different actions are possible such as: look, get, move, open, talk and on/off. Contrariwise to other games in which all these functions are always available, UAKM offers only a limited choice of actions in relation to the objects or characters encountered. It is an overall good idea and makes for one less difficulty. There are so many details in the game, that we are tempted to click on everything and try all sorts of actions on the objects.
The other mode is related to the movement. Thanks to numerous movement possibilities, ACCESS has succeeded in getting as close to reality as possible. Furthermore, the Virtual World where the player moves about is a true wonderland! You will walk about in a tridimensional universe where each piece of furniture is an obstacle that you will have to walk around. You can look anywhere (from the ground to the ceiling) in real time, and all in SVGA (full screen) if your machine's performance permits you.
Another innovation in comparison with other games of this style, is that you can choose the state your mind is in when you respond to the people you will meet. No more does one speak to characters with a choice of many possible phrases, now you have to chose the style in which you speak among three possibilities. This sometimes makes it more difficult to know exactly what should be said, but we quickly get accustomed to it.
During conversations, we watch the astounding animation of the characters, which is very realistic, thanks to the usage of video techniques like the blue screen which is a very popular method in the new productions.
The music is omnipresent in UAKM and above all, of a quality rarely attained in other games. The stereo sounds were digitized in 16 bit 22 KHz, which is a radical change compared to the traditional 8 bit 11 KHz mono!
Finally, to place where the action is, UAKM takes place in San Francisco in the year 2042. The time following World War III saw the appearance of two distinct classes of population: the "norms" and the "mutants". The first group did not suffer from any radiation and therefore has no physical degradation unlike the mutants. The criterions of race slowly disappeared and was replaced by the genetic quality.
Tex Murphy, the hero, this means you, is a PI (Private Investigator) who lives in the Old San Francisco area populated mainly by the mutants. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that you are a norm, you prefer to live in this area of the city instead of the New San Francisco.
From your office, you can see Chandler Avenue with its merchants like the Brew & Stew Cafe, the Slice O'Heaven Pizza Parlor, or even the pawnshop. This last one is precisely where you will start your investigation. Without going into too much detail, I can tell you that you will soon be looking for a stolen bracelet and that during your investigation, you will make a gruesome discovery and risk your own life. For the remainder, I will not reveal anymore to you, but rest assured, you are not ready to imagine the continuation of your adventures.
Access Inc. GRAPHICS ------ 97% 4910 W. Amelia Earhart Drive, SOUND ------ 95% Salt Lake City, UT 84116. MUSIC ------ 95% Tel: 801-359-2900 GAMEPLAY ------ 92% 800-800-4880 INTEREST ------ 96% OVERALL ------ 95%