According to the folks at Sony Computer Entertainment, Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie is "A Multi-Million Dollar Production, Professionally Scripted and Produced With Screen Actors Guild Performances." After a short session with the game, though, it seems as if at least one of the millions should have gone toward better gameplay and controls. Despite a promising cast and solid beginning, the game is a painful example of why FMV so often fails to achieve significant interactive gameplay.
You follow hapless Johnny Mnemonic as he makes his way through the underbelly of a futuristic society trying to download a potentially lethal program from his brain. The plot is loosely based on the William Gibson short story of the same name but it follows the movie plot rather than the short story, which may irk some purists. Although linear, the plot is the strongest point of the game. Fans of the cyberpunk genre will become engrossed in the fight-the-system with computers, guns and fists action.
Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie shares the same flaws as many FMV efforts: there is simply no way to transfer enough control to the gamer in scripted movie sequences, something most obvious in terms of fight scenes. Jane, Johnny's bodyguard, usually defends the duo's interests with kicks and punches. The manual suggests waiting a beat before attempting to block, kick or punch and, usually, you have about a second to decide whether the opponent is going to attack, fall back or draw close. Then, in a montage of disjointed and awkward camera angles, the fight continues.
More often than not, the collection of shots shows poor Jane staggering from a mistimed punch or absent block. Luck becomes the overriding factor at this point and, most likely, a stopping place for many gamers. The addition of a flashing hint during the fight sequences (ala Dragon's Lair) after losing 20 or so fights in a row (a realistic losing streak) would help make the game more fun.
There are a few puzzles to solve during the course of the game but, unfortunately, Johnny has no inventory available. He may pocket an Allen Wrench or a scrap of paper but you aren't allowed to rummage through his belongings in hope of a clue of what to do next. Having only simple "Use" and "Download" commands makes Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie a game with little depth indeed.
Graphics are mostly clean and several recognizable faces appear, most notably Isaac Hayes as the leader of the Lo-Teks. Julie Strain, B-Movie queen and Penthouse Playmate, kicks serious butt as the bad guy's bodyguard named Pretty. Christopher Russel Gertin does as good as job as Keanu Reeves did in the movie version as the hero and, while the script won't win any awards, it is appropriate in dialog and action to the setting.
The game contains two hours of footage but becomes much longer with repeated attempts to master controls and, since the plot is mostly linear, extends game life somewhat. Expect to see Johnny and Jane die in a variety of ways before reaching the end. Designers can learn from Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie: pretty graphics and a decent storyline won't cut it without decent controls and fun gameplay. Fans of the cyberpunk genre or gamers looking for a control challenge may want to play but money spent here would be better invested in watching the movie.
Graphics: Recognizable cast and movie quality sets are nice. The fight sequences are disorientating and choppy.
Sound: Dialog is decent but at times not in synch with actors. The gunfights and fistfights sound realistic.
Enjoyment: Losing fight after fight is not mentioned on the box. There's no user-controlled inventory and limited player control.
Replay Value: The linear storyline, much like the movie it was based on, is worth watching only once.
Johnny Mnemonic is based on William Gibson's short story and a subsequent movie of the same name. The game's plot bears more similarities to the movie than to the original story. Johnny is a courier in a futuristic society, delivering data implanted in his brain. However, the latest delivery is so big that it can kill him if he doesn't download the data. Unfortunately, the only person who knew the password is dead, and members of the Yakuza are hunting for the data and for its living container.
The game consists of live-action video footage and interactive sequences, some of which play like adventure game segments and may contain simple puzzles, while others are more action-oriented. Johnny's bodyguard Jane often handles the fighting episodes; the player can assign buttons to punches and kicks. The adventure parts contain limited exploration and interaction with the environment, and mostly serve to advance the plot.
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