PC REVIEW: THE MOMENT OF SILENCE

Wait for it....wait.....wait....wait....almost.......there! That was it. The moment of silence. by Cole Smith

January 24, 2006 - The Moment of Silence is a moody, point-and-click, sci-fi adventure game that is certain to appeal to X-File fans and just about anyone else that enjoys the old-school charm of the genre. The Moment of Silence doesn't bring anything new to the table in terms of gameplay features but the focus, like so many games in the genre, is on the storyline. It plays out like a futuristic Kafka novel where government conspiracies abound, but it could have been executed a lot better as there are some holes in it.

Peter Wright is a communications specialist for the fascist American government that spreads it propaganda messages throughout the country via large video screens installed on every street corner. The entire country is under surveillance and controlled by this oppressive regime giving us an Orwellian view of the future prophesized in the novel Ninteen-Eighty Four. Late one evening, Wright awakens to see that his neighbor is being abducted by an alleged government SWAT team. Assuring his wife and kids that he will investigate the situation, Wright discovers that the government has no record of his arrest or knowledge of his whereabouts. The plot weaves a web of intrigue, betrayal, corruption and dark secrets.


Following the traditional adventure game formula, you will explore your environment looking for clues and adding items to your inventory while solving puzzles to help you gain access to new information or physical locations. Not all of the items are easy to locate as they can be pretty small. You can usually find them by accessing the H button for assistance with hotspots. The mouse can be finicky at times so make sure you go over everything a couple of times.

Puzzles are a necessary evil with such a game. They aren't integrated into the gameplay in such a way as to actually help you with your quest. Instead they are used to open something that is impeding your progress such as a locked elevator, door or PC file. You'll have to look for codes, keys, clues and characters to help you solve these puzzles. They aren't mind bending but they can hold you up for a while. The only time I really appreciate a puzzle is after I've solved it. Such is the case here.

Thrust into the future we are given very little explanation of the world in which we exist. The game assumes we have lived in this world all our lives. Robots are employed as security guards. The use of fossil fuels have been banned forcing everyone to use satellite cabs. How did the present government get into power? Who controls the internet known as GlobalNet? There are a lot of unanswered questions. We have to accept certain situations at face value. I appreciate that not everything is explained but perhaps we could have had the main character develop a classic case of amnesia or maybe have him come from the past. This way we could explore the mysterious world of the future together. As it is, I feel as though my character has more knowledge of this world than I. I'm missing the sense of attachment to my character.

There is a lot of conversation with NPCs, intended to drive the plot forward. Much of these conversations take place over the GlobalNet which is the main communication medium for the oppressed population. While it seems believable when people are trying to reach Wright with information it seems totally unnatural when he encounters random characters that all seem in on the plot. This is New York. There are millions of people in this city. There have to be some innocent NPCs that don't have a clue what's going on. This phenomenon is further exacerbated by the empty streets. You will see the odd character walking around in the background but the streets are virtually void of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. The game makes your characters and your situation the focus of attention and while that's what we all wish for it's very unbelievable in a city the size of New York.

Backgrounds are breathtaking. They display depth and detailed architecture with shiny reflective surfaces that portray the gleaming vision of the future but there are also darkened and decayed areas where the optimism of a bright future has never taken root. Some of the character movements might be a little stiff during the actual point-and-click ritual but the voiceover work ranks as some of the best ever. Many of the characters are understated in their presentation. They aren't stereotypes spewing out cliches but some of the conversations do feel a little forced and unnatural and they tend to drag on, grinding the gameplay down in the process. The story is good but it really tries my patience to have to sit through so many exchanges. I think the game could have lessened the conversations by half and tightened up the game. All I'm asking for is a few moments of silence.

If you're looking to spend more than 20 hours interacting with virtual characters and solving puzzles and mysteries than you too will want The Moment of Silence.

Features:

  • Absolutely unique, highly immersive espionage thriller story
  • Pre-rendered backgrounds with spectacular scenes and actions
  • Reminiscent of The Longest Journey
  • Multiple choice dialogues
  • 35+ true-to-life 3D characters with strong biographical background to interact with
  • Fascinating, well researched visions of the near future
  • 75 locations, designed by award-winning CG artists and more than 500 interactive screens
  • 30 minutes of full screen video
  • Lip synchronization using phonetic voice analysis
  • Motion captured animation with real-time facial expressions

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
The Moment Of Silence (PC)
4.5
Graphics
Environments are richly detailed and very realistic. The motion-captured animation brings the characters to life.
4.3
Control
Point and click. What could be easier? Sometimes you will have a little trouble getting the mouse to cooperate so you'll have to give some locations the twice-over.
4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Great ambient music and voiceover work - though the characters do seem to suffer from verbal diarrhea.
4.5
Play Value
The game is long. It should last you about 20 hours but there's nothing for replay value once you've completed it.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PC
Dev: House Of Tales
Pub: Adventure Co
Release: March 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best