Countdown is another interactive movie gem from Access Software. The game features superb graphics, sound effects and was one of the first games to incorporate full motion video (FMV).
The use of FMV is still one of the most effective to feature in an adventure game. The main character initially has no memory of their past live, but certain objects trigger memories, and these flashbacks are conveyed with the use of FMV.
The game graphics are fantastic, there are some great background screens and this makes the adventure that much more immersive.
The quality of the writing and plot puts most other adventure games to shame. The player is drawn into a world of espionage and terrorism, and you want to keep playing the game to discover what is going on. The characters that you encounter are interesting and there are some funny lines in the dialogue.
The game interface is simple and effective, and doesn't interfere with gameplay.
There are some very tricky puzzles to solve. The solutions, difficult as they may be, make sense and are logical - they avoid being frustrating and arbitrary. The use of a handheld computer to analyze photos and other evidence is a lot of fun - it's very similar to the ESPER device in the Blade Runner film.
There is very little to fault with Countdown, a challenging and fun game to play.
Graphics: One of the first games to incorporate fmv into an adventure game - before the days of games on CD-ROMs.
Sound: Great voiceovers and sound effects.
Enjoyment: One of the most enjoyable of the interactive movie/adventure game genres
Replay Value: Once you've finished it, there's no reason to return.
Upon awakening, you don't know much. Your name is Mason Powers. You used to work for the CIA. But what has happened in the last days? What case have you been working on? And most important: Why are you locked away in this cold, barren prison cell? Time to find some answers.
In Access Software's interactive thriller, you dive into the world of the secret services. Travel around Europe, interrogate suspects, try to outwit other spies. As agent Mason Powers, you have to prevent a global disaster and expose a mole inside the "company". Piece after piece, you regain your memory, remembering the events of that night in which your chief was murdered. You are the suspect. But to prove your innocence, you've first got escape from that godforsaken sanatorium they keep you locked in.
Countdown continues Access Software's then-habit of using digitized actors in its games.
The game contains a time limit -- you have to solve the mystery in 96 hours.
The story in Countdown may seem ordinary. You play Mason Powers, a former CIA agent who is trapped in an asylum. Framed for a crime you did not commit and waiting on death-row. Parts of your memory is lost, and you need to escape and prove that you are innocent.
The game is a typical adventure game. You combine both the keyboard and the mouse to move Mason around. The interface may seem challenging at first, but you will be totally familiar with it after you have escaped your cell. (You can also use Hotkeys for the commands. F1 is Look and so on). To save the game you have to press the F(ile) key. This is something you should do often, as you do not get a second chance in the game. If you are discovered or caught, you are killed, and the game ends. Some might think of Sierra and the endless deaths in their games, but Countdown is different. There is always a very good reason for you to die. The graphic is not the best I have seen, in fact it looks like one of the characters from Jones in the Fast Lane have got a new job and a new name. However the game makes up for it with extremely good gameplay and story!
As you progress through the game, your memory will crawl back up on you... making the story more complex every time. Soon you will not only have to clear your name, but also stop a global disaster. Of course you will also have to find the man who is behind it all.
As the name of the game states, there is a timelimit. You must finish the game within 96 hours. So stop reading the review, time is a-wasting. The world needs you, Mason Powers.
Similar to Access' early Tex Murphy adventures, Countdown has an incredible amount of "pixel-hunt" puzzles and several pointless "arcade" sequences. The plot of this game is quite interesting, though (although they might have borrowed it from Asylum, a Commodore 64 classic): you are an amnesiac trying to escape the asylum and find your true identity. Overall, a fun game that's been overlooked by many people, despite frustrating puzzles, time limit, and some downright bad dialogues.
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