|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
ABC's sci-fi, secret-teasing series finally finds its way to gamers with Lost: Via Domus, a next-gen licensed offering that's a must-play (like, right now!) for serious fans of the serialized hit.
On the other hand, if you're not glued to your TV every Thursday at 9PM, anxiously awaiting the castaways' every move, then you'll find little here to really grab you. Not to say Via: Domus is a complete wash for non-Losties; if some light adventuring and gorgeous visuals are enough to get you to grab a gamepad, then by all means jump in. Just don't expect to know what the heck is going on, as Via Domus doesn't cater to newcomers in terms of story or character explanation. Now, for the rest of you--those that know of the four-toed statue, the unlucky 4-8-15-16-23-42, and the mysterious smoke monster--you're in for a real treat; skip the review, and go pick this baby up!
Still here? Alright, alright...for those not totally convinced by my opening enthusiasm (as a freak for the show, I suppose I am a bit biased) lets dig a bit deeper. First, let's start with those visuals; even if you don't know Lost from Desperate Housewives, you'll appreciate the next-gen effort put into Via Domus' stunning graphical presentation. The jungles are absolutely beautiful, meeting and often surpassing the high bar set by Uncharted: Drake's Fortune foliage-filled adventure. Trees, vines, and muddy paths are all brought to realistic life with the help of amazing lighting and shadowing techniques. The beach's white sands and postcard-perfect ocean view are equally impressive. And, as eye-candy-coated as all this is, it can't touch Via Domus' near photo-realistic interiors. The inside of the series' famous underground hatches have been painstakingly replicated with drenched-in-detail design. From the Swan's creepy painting and blood-stained ceiling to the old computer and the room where Henry Gale (later revealed as Benjamin Linus) was held captive, if you've seen it on the show, you'll see it in the game. Additionally, fans are able to explore lesser seen areas like the other side of the magnetic wall and even the Swan's bathroom--c'mon what Lost fan wouldn't want a closer peek at where Kate exited the shower?
The game also pulls off the character presentation pretty well. Admittedly, not as well as the backdrops and environments, but still pretty damn good, especially considering how recognizable these actors have become. Obviously, such familiar faces will be mercilessly scrutinized. Some look better than others; Kate looks great, Hurley looks kinda creepy, and the rest fall somewhere in between, but all will be instantly recognizable to Lost fans. The voices are also surprisingly well done, especially seeing how just a handful of the actual actors contributed lines. I've heard some harsh criticism of the voice actors, specifically of the actor that delivers John Locke's lines, but I disagree. Sure, the in-game, grizzled favorite doesn't sound exactly like Terry O'Quinn, but given the tall task of imitating such a specific, inflection-heavy performance, the actor has come pretty close. There's a lot of dialogue in the game, and fans, being so close to the show, will be the first ones to find flaws in the characters. However, the moments that really make you feel like you're relating to these characters certainly outshine the ones that pull you from the experience.
Via Domus weaves a satisfying yarn in-line with the series' slick story-telling style; twists, turns and unexpected moments abound. And the game brilliantly supports its narrative with some key design choices. First of all, the game is broken into episodes, each beginning with a "previously on Lost," followed by a mini-cliffhanger opening--complete with "LOST" floating towards the screen--and closing with a true Lost, edge-of-your-seat ending. All these touches add so much to the experience and really pile on the fan-service. Breaking up the adventure into hour or so episodes is also a great way to introduce series' fans, who might not be gamers, into the experience.