Gray Matter

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Mark GRAY MATTER

6/6
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No votes
5/6
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4/6
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3/6
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2/6
1
100%
1/6
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0/6
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Total votes: 1
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Chevalier Bayard
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Gray Matter

Postby Chevalier Bayard » Tue 21 Dec, 2010 00:46

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If the name “Jane Jensen“ doesn’t ring a bell, I’m quite sure any of you below 25 years old will most surely have heard of “Gabriel Knight” . In 1993 Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, first episode of the series signed by Jane Jensen, allowed Sierra to take a step against LucasArts, its major competitor in the P&C genre.

During the late 1980s and the 1990s these two studios were indeed at war; for all ours benefits. Truth is, this is one of the most prolific and innovative time in video-games. Whatever your pleasure was, you could find a P&C game to answer it. With P&C games we've been indeed able to play a wannabe pirate in The Secret of Monkey Island, a wannabe wizard in Discworld, a space adventurer in Space Quest, a sci-fi detective in Under a Killing Moon, a L.A.P.D. detective in Police Quest, a dog and a rabbit detective in Sam & Max Hit the Road, a medieval knight in King's Quest, a badass biker in Full Throttle, a space explorer in The Dig, the most famous archeologist of all times in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, a pathetic lousy virgin in Leisure Suit Larry, ... and I realize I've not yet mentioned Day of the Tentacle, Phantasmagoria, Maniac Mansion or Grim Fandango ! So many amazing and creative games which are at the bases of our current video-games but if First Person Shooter have managed to survive to the arrival of HD consoles (and what a survival!), P&C had almost disappeared from the radar...

If the genre was not dead, very few titles reached the lights of fame. Then Steam, Xbox LIVE and Playstation Network started to distribute some P&C again, mostly HD remakes and variations, betting on players around thirty years old. And it worked quite pretty well! Among these refreshed oldies, a brand new game signed by a legend of the genre, let me hope for some real novelty and I was quite impatient when I started to play Gray Matter.

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It didn't start well as the introduction already disappointed me, both on the form and on the content. On the form first as, well, in 2010 I do expect more than static images illustrating monotonous and soporific dictions. On the content then as Sam, the character we are going to play for most of the game, appears at once to be a very abhorrent person. Witness of a kidnapping, she only sees there an opportunity for a warm room on a cold night, just by impersonating the poor woman. She is then only concerned about not to be caught and do not wonder at all about the reasons of the events she witnessed. Really weird... Worst! When asked to do so, she has no scruples about lying to students in order to recruit them for an experiment lead by her host, whom locals rumors assimilate to a mad scientist. Creepy!

Getting back to the form, Gray Matter is not an homage to 1990s Point and Click, games it is a 1990 P&C games! Maybe the rendering wasn't as good at the time but the animation was. The 3D rendering of the face illustrating the dialogue scenes is quite awful and, talking about dialogues, the interface is really playing with your nerves when you have only one choice of conversation possible and, yet, it waits for your approval click to go on ...

The only innovation on HD consoles, the wheel of choice, is supposed to save you the time you usually spend exploring all areas with your cursor. Ok controlling the cursor with the paddle is not really enjoyable though it's quite expected in a P&C. Which is not is to often do several rounds of the wheel to finally get Sam watching a specific area. Sam moving, the wheel is reconfigured and there you go again. While we got rid of the cursor exploration I think it would have been better to have a static wheel, oriented from the center of the room instead of an approximate position of the clickable areas around Sam.

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Then comes the music... I don't think I have weird tastes regarding music but when I read Gray Matter reviews felicitating the score, really I start to doubt my own taste cause this music is nothing but an auditive nightmare! Far too short the melodies are looping and looping and looping and looping and looping and looping .... driving you closer to insanity than any of the experiences described in the game! And I shouldn't complain as I was at least playing to the game and not enduring it because of someone else (ask my wife about it...).

Getting back to the content, Gray Matter is also very poor. Despite the antipathetic character you've hardly got an atmosphere in the game as you won't be given more information than the ones needed for your sub-quests. Worst, and we get back to the games mechanics, you have to get them in a certain order. Miss a little something and you are stuck for good.

Sometime you also don't miss anything and end stuck anyway. It has happened to me at the end of chapter #2 where I've reach 100% completion on all sub-quests, the bonus one included. After having checked online a complete walkthrough and double checked everything I only had my eyes to cry for Sam would stay stuck in this level till I get back to a former save, which of course was at the beginning of the chapter... Discussing with Peav' from Mad-Movies who was also playing the game on his Xbox 360, he learned me he had to face two freezes of the game before reaching chapter #3. A few weeks ago the game was supposed to be postponed to February 2011, maybe it should have stayed like that...


I've tested Gray Matter on Xbox 360 and clearly I won't advise you to play this game on console. I'm not sure I'd advise it on PC as well though as the game has been quite a deception for me. 2/6
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