Game Over Online ~ Blair Witch Project Volume I: Rustin Parr

GameOver Game Reviews - Blair Witch Project Volume I: Rustin Parr (c) Gathering of Developers, Reviewed by - Cody Nicholson

Game & Publisher Blair Witch Project Volume I: Rustin Parr (c) Gathering of Developers
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II-233, 64MB Ram, 500MB HDD, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 85%
Date Published Wednesday, September 27th, 2000 at 08:52 PM

Divider Left By: Cody Nicholson Divider Right

The film 'The Blair Witch Project' was one of the most talked about movies of 1999. Audiences came away with an intense love-hate relationship towards the independent sleeper, propelling it to immediate cult status and helping it attain box office records as one of the highest-grossing films ever. The movie was so successful, and perhaps controversial, that the studio decided to create both a sequel and a prequel to be released in the coming year. The sequel, entitled Blair Witch II: The Shadow Book, is set for theatrical release this Halloween while the prequel is due next fall. Coincidentally, Gathering of Developers also announced a trilogy of games based on the Blair Witch franchise. The first of those titles has arrived from Terminal Reality and is promptly titled Blair Witch Project Volume I: Rustin Parr.

The plotline in Blair Witch Project Volume I arises from the back history of the movie. Rustin Parr was the hermit who lived in the woods just outside of Burkittsville, Maryland. The year was 1941 when Rustin emerged from the woods proclaiming he was "finally finished". As the rest of the small town soon found out, he was referring to the abduction and brutal murders of seven local children. Rustin Parr was found guilty of his ghoulish acts and was consequently hung. In his professions, he claimed the Blair Witch had placed a hex on him, forcing him to commit the murders.

It's important to understand that Blair Witch Project Volume I: Rustin Parr is not a game based solely on the film. You actually take on the role of Doc Holiday. For those of you wondering why that name sounds familiar, it's because she was a cast member from the original Nocturne. This game basically crosses over material from both the Nocturne and Blair Witch franchises, creating an ultra-eerie experience. The game begins as you, Doc Holiday, arrive in Burkittsville shortly after Rustin's arrest. The secret government agency created to investigate supernatural phenomenons, Spookhouse, has sent the lovely and talented Doc to investigate the murders, figuring something must be amiss.

Blair Witch Project Volume I (I hope I don't have to say that many more times this review) is predominantly a plot and exploration oriented game. It features numerous cinematic and dialogue sequences as Doc searches for the truth behind the Blair Witch, the forest, and the mysteries surrounding Rustin Parr. That's not to say there aren't any combat sequences as there are plenty of baddies, both mortal and spectral, that go bump in the night, but Volume I is, and will be, the most story-oriented game of the entire trilogy.

Blair Witch opens with a short tutorial session designed to introduce the Nocturne engine to potential newcomers. If you missed out on the original Nocturne, and I wouldn't be surprised considering the immense system requirements of that game, the engine features a third-person perspective. The camera reacts to the position of the character within a particular area, which can often create some frustrating moments during combat when the camera shifts. Admittedly, this enhanced engine has improved on the camera control during the game, but there are still instances of havoc created by the camera view. Combat is made slightly easier in part due to a futuristic laser sight attached to your weapon (although they never would have existed in 1941). Besides handguns and shotguns, you'll also be able to use such items as axes and stakes (for the vampires of course), but the combination of keyboard/mouse controls remains the same.

Awkward camera work aside, the Nocturne engine is a marvel to watch and this enhanced version is no different. The textures and environments are breathtaking, helping to create an intensely creepy atmosphere. The dynamic lighting is stunning and the attention to detail is impeccable. As you traverse the woods, Doc will actually kick up leaves that continue to accumulate on the ground from the trees overhead. The only problem with the visuals lies in the character animation. The facial animations look like separate skins and certainly don't match the overall quality of the rest of the visuals. During the cinematics, the expressions and lip movement don't match the dialogue at all, creating rather awkward storytelling moments.

The audio in Blair Witch is just as top notch as the visuals. The voice acting, in particular, is incredibly well done and despite the fact the speech is rarely in sync with the lip movement of the characters, the dialogue is crisp and the English accents are spot on. The musical interludes and creepy sound effects add an edge to the overall atmosphere of the game. If you turn the lights down low and the sound way up, you'll undoubtedly have a few heart stopping moments as zombies and other creatures of the night jump out of every conceivable angle.

Those of you who played the original Nocturne are probably wondering about the system specifications. The requirements for Nocturne were absurd, as many gamers didn't near have the power to run the game efficiently. The enhanced engine for Blair Witch has been improved slightly, but don't expect a lower-end machine to run this game very well. The only reason Blair Witch will probably cater to more gamers is the fact that the once incredible requirements are nowadays rather average. A Pentium II-400 with 64mb RAM is probably as low as you'll be able to go. Considering Blair Witch Project Volume I comes with a budget-like price tag, you really can't complain, although there is one obvious reason behind the set price. That reason is simply because Blair Witch Project Volume I is an incredibly short experience. There is half the amount of gameplay in Blair Witch than there was in Nocturne and you'll probably be able to breeze through the game with relative ease. The puzzles aren't particularly tough, although there are difficulty level settings pertaining to the action sequences. If you take away the continuous dialogue and cinematics though, you'll realize Blair Witch Project Volume I is not a lengthy journey.

The similarities between this game and the film are quite ironic. Both feature nausea-inducing camera work and each is a tad bit on the short side. The similarities end there though, as Blair Witch Project Volume I is arguably scarier than the movie. Where the movie played on the fears and imagination of the viewers, the game isn't afraid to show you what you should be scared of. Zombies, vampires, poltergeists, oh my! But when the curtain closes, the movie and the game share one important quality: both are engrossing entities that are sure to bring chills and thrills to unsuspecting victims.


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