The promise of Jericho begins in its title ... Clive Barker’s Jericho. The very name brings with it a chill that guarantees that Codemasters’ new horror FPS will be something special. Not only is Britain’s premier horror writer at the creative helm but it is an original story written for the game.
The idea is that a prehistorical evil has broken through into our world from the Middle Eastern city of Al-Khali, built on ancient ruins of millennia of conquerors. The Department of Occult Warfare is on the case, however, and the Jericho Squad is sent in to clear things up.
Well, that’s the background, so what about the gameplay?
From the title screen through the selection and loading screens the gamers is confronted with the visceral horror that they’ll soon be forced into. Walls pulse and drip gore, and that’s the least of your worries as the game gets under way and you’re forced to face the first of your enemies.
The game begins as the squad break into the ruins and come across gruesome and twisted forms of men who once breathed life. No more. Controlling the squad you can employ both impressive firepower and magic attacks, and you can jump from character to character to deliver the most appropriate attack for the enemy – Sgt. Frank Delgado is a pyromancer, Lt. Abigail Black is a sniper who can control her bullet mid-flight, Sgt. Billie Church uses her own blood to cast spells. And that’s only three of the squad of seven.
The action comes thick and fast, the graphics emerging you deep in the story. Weapons are varied and frankly cool. So’s the magic. Every shadow hides more detail you can pick out with your flash light, and every corner hides more enemies… proceed with care, or if you’re really worried you can always use Cpt. Xavier Jones whose astral projection lets you reconnoitre ahead.
Most compelling about the story are the jumps back in time. Starting in the present you then jump back to the Second World War. From there it’s back to the Crusades and then to the Roman Empire before landing in ancient Babylon to confront the Firstborn. It’s a slick trick that works and keeps the game rolling in its originality.
There’s more to the story, particularly the dynamic of the squad, and how the battles take their toll, but that should be something for the gamer to discover.
The game we were given to play was uncompleted and obviously we couldn’t play right through all the levels. But what we did see looked, well, mighty fine. It’s blend of action and story is a winner and, you’d suspect, it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Clive Barker and the games industry.