When the term "interactive movie" was coined in connection with computer gaming, several companies jumped into the fray and created games they claimed met the evolving criteria. Most fell woefully short. Not until Under A Killing Moon did a game hit the market that truly embodies the spirit of an interactive movie.
A wonderful cast of actors and actresses (a few playing multiple roles) create on-screen personas for nearly forty characters intrinsic to the science fiction story, which by today's standards (late-1990s) seems scarily possible. It seems as if a "savior" of mankind (actually a nutty moneybags) bent on removing impure genetic life forms on Earth has a plan to unleash a virus (from a platform in space) that will cleanse our lovely planet. Decades later, using genetically pure material he and his organization have collected prior to the purge, a rebirth of uncontaminated humans will emerge.
There's not much to dislike about this production. The full motion video is characteristic of high professional quality as are most other aspects of the game. There are basically two full motion screens in the game: a large one that depicts general movement and advancement in the game and a smaller inset which is used to show our P.I. as he travels to locations beyond his office on Chandler Avenue in Old San Francisco.
The smaller action screen also displays text used to show subjects (people and items) that Tex can ask about. A separate auxiliary panel is available for inventory manipulation, game options, hints and so forth. The hint feature of Under A Killing Moon is extremely well done and helpful as it was designed to give varying degrees of help but never more than you ask for. In that regard, the game could well serve as a boilerplate for future interactive adventure games in the genre.
Playing the game is a snap. There are two main control modes: movement and interactive. As expected, the movement mode (set against detailed 3D backgrounds) deals with Tex as he walks around his current location looking for people or things with which to interact. All other action occurs in the interactive mode (e.g., inventory, conversation, travel). The usual selection of command icons is available to assist Tex in his work: look, get, open, talk and move.
There is even an Easy Play option that allows you to skip the main adventure gaming elements and explore the Under A Killing Moon world and view all the movie scenes with all required inventory items conveniently available. Used with the hint system, this mode zips you through the seven days of the game quickly but without all the joy of actually playing the game and solving the mysteries.
The professional acting is superb with a further bonus of hearing James Earl Jones' masterful voice as the Big P.I. in the Sky. Sound effects and the musical score are excellent. The mix of puzzles to solve and interactive clue gathering techniques is a marvel with very little extraneous debris to sift through. All things considered, Under A Killing Moon gives you a feeling of realism and provides long hours of amusement and fun.
Graphics: At the time of release, few games have better quality graphics then this one. Computer generated 3D backgrounds and scenery of high professional quality.
Sound: Original music and realistic sound effects set the tone for the game.
Enjoyment: A treat to play. Immersive and addictive, the story keeps you captivated and the interface is intuitive, not obtrusive.
Replay Value: Worth a second look, even if you use the Easy Play option. Wouldn't be any worse than watching a rerun of your favorite program on TV.
It's December, 2042. And you're the only P.I. that follows the old steps of Philip Marlow, Spade, and other classic detectives. This time, the world depends upon you. How? Why? It's not for me to tell. Take your gun, and see what'll be next. Well, you'll drop it via the window accidentally, but I guess that won't stop you from solving the case.
Under A Killing Moon, unlike the Tex Murphy adventures that came before it, takes place in a world whose locations are pure 3D in which you have full maneuverability. You can even look for clues underneath desks, chairs, etc. Other features include an online hint system (that decreases your final score the more you use it), extensive support for additional sound/music devices, and full-motion video technology.
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