KGB (Second Review)

Title           KGB (Second Review)
Game Type       Adventure
Players         1
Company		Cryo/Virgin Games 1992
HD Installable  Yes
Compatibility   All Amigas (1Mb)
Submission      Stuart Wilson

The Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, the legendary secret police
service based in Moscow, and the subject of a plethora of melodramatic spy
thrillers, is now the focal point of a computer game. Given the KGB's
tendency to frown on so much as a democratic thought, the designers must
be very sure of their security in dealing with such a diplomatically
fragile issue. It is this clouded Western opinion that the designers of
the game prey on, and use it to drag you into the murky realms of Moscow's
streets, to investigate all sorts of nefarious goings-on.

The game immediately pitches you into the thick of the action, if standing
around in an office with a KGB 'colleague' can be called action.
Thankfully it gives you time to work out where you are, who you are, but
tragically little about the plot developments ahead. This sounds perhaps
scathing, but instead the intrigue begins to build after your summoning by
the 'top bod'. He then presents you with your first mission, and it is
from here that the plot gradually builds up, and things start to get
clear, perhaps a little TOO clear, as you discover later in the game,
juggling events both past and present, whilst trying not to get yourself
killed or arguably worse, sent to Siberia to assist the Communist cause,
that it can be fiendishly difficult.

This leads to a downside of the game: You can die. Now, whereas perhaps it
is a good idea for realism to be preserved in a game, it shouldn't detract
from the fun that you should have while playing it. The game was released
before certificates were applied to computer games, and if KGB were
released now it would get atleast a 15 certificate. Not because of any
particularly gratuitous violence, but because the overall 'feel' of the
game carries a distinctly adult theme, and as such I wouldn't really
recommend this for children. Another severe blow, which parallels the
depressing 'you-can-die' aspect is the linearity. Admittedly a non-linear
Point and Click adventure game is not easy to design, but the freedom of
exploration of other areas is somewhat missing, and although there ARE one
or two areas you can visit, it is unwise to visit them unless the game
plot 'permits' it. In other words, you are being funnelled down the narrow
plot line conceived by the designers of the game.

Having said this, there is a certain intrigue surrounding the game that
compells you to keep playing: The sinister atmosphere of Moscow side
streets, the revulsion of the realisation that someone in a rather public
area has been murdering people and hanging the carcasses on fish hooks,
the dirty aspects such as corruption: American hard currency plays a big
part in this game, as do drugs, a large degree of violence and a very
smutty set of prostitutes. How they all tie in together, and lead to the
rather dramatic conclusion toward the end of the game is quite a
fundamental aspect of its playability, but the fixed plot and, dare I say,
repetitive routines, can be very tiresome.

The graphics themselves are 'functional' to say the least. It is more
'pictorial' as animation is kept to a minimum, although in my view they
are apt. The atmosphere ranges from the relatively bright, tidy, cosy
apartments of people, to the dank grimy sidestreets and hideous terrors
they conceal. Objects themselves are unfortunately hidden: If you move the
mouse pointer about enough it'll latch onto a 'hidden' object, but you
shouldn't really have to trawl the screen looking for an object that is
fundamental to the game plot. The sound and music, as is often the case
with P&C adventures, is rather poor, thankfully it can be turned off,
which I wholly recommend.

All in all, this is a game which may have a small degree of short term
appeal, but it certainly doesn't have the addictiveness to rival games
such as Monkey Island, depsite its depiction of adult themes. A game which
you may or may not bother to see through to completion; die-hard fans of
this genre of game may, but it'll take a lot of determination for a rather
disappointing ending. Anyone else may like to try it, but the curiosity
value will wear off pretty quickly, and doubtless you'll find yourself
comparing it to games which handle violent themes so much better, like
Beneath A Steel Sky.

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