Sherlock Holmes Gets A Face-Lift

By John Walker on October 3rd, 2008 at 11:49 am.

'Let's go back to mine, smoke crack, and then talk about bitches, Watson.'

Frogwares are the latest the get on the respectable remastering train. Like a director who realises his film’s special effects were a bit poop, and decides to do a better job for a later DVD release, a number of developers are looking back at their older games and realising how they could improve them. In this case, it’s Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, now released from the first-person perspective, with an optional third-person mode, which should appease many adventure fans. There’s a video detailing the changes below.

So either their engine was far more impressive than it looked, and they made a rather odd decision to enforce first-person in the first place, or they’ve done a lot of work with it since to get it to look so natural in third-person. Of course, it will still be the same dodgy game with an utterly un-Holmes-like story, made worse by the astonishingly poor acting. As you’ll hear in the video above, Watson sounds like he’s reading a bedtime story to a slow child, while Holmes has the voice of a precocious 14 year old.

HOW DID YOU GET HERE?!

Adding the third-person mode might undo my most favourite thing about the game though. Both in The Awakened, and the following Nemesis, the engine worked in such a way that when playing Holmes you never saw Watson following you. As if engaged in some city-wide game of What’s The Time Mr Wolf?, whenever you looked at him he stood stock still. This meant you could walk backward from him along a long, straight road until he was barely visible in the distance. Look away, look back, and BAM! He was standing right in front of you, his expressionless eyes staring through you. It was terrifying, every single time.

All praise to Frogware for caring enough about their games to put this much effort into the two year old ones. (Rise above it, people). New actors in the future would be a good thing. And a story in keeping with Holmes at his best. It’s odd that the Frogwares have so far chosen to have their adventures be in keeping with the last few Holmes stories, where Doyle was clearly completely bored of the character, and deeply embroiled in his dalliance with mysticism. How marvellous it would be to have a Holmes adventure written with the ingenuity of Doyle’s singular talent for crafting rationality in the face of the impossible.

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16 Comments »

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  1. Pavel says:

    I love the books, read just about all of them several times, but somehow the games don’t appeal to me. It looks kinda nice, though.

  2. Malagate says:

    Argh, not Watson again, that was the single creepiest thing about the game! What really got to me was the fact that he did it silently and that it is far too easy to imagine that if you hadn’t looked back then he would have opened your skull and would already be through half your brain before you died. I’d take Cthulhu on any day compared to Watson…

  3. MeestaNob! says:

    During the demo I’d been outside all of 30 seconds before I turned around and BAM there was Watson, with those Cold Dead Eyes.

    Upon seeing this I realised he did it, but unfortunately there was no item or conversation path I could trigger to have him confess and save myself the time playing the god awful demo.

    Honestly, in the gallery his phantom appearances are just fucking creepy.

    Why is it so difficult for companies, the few that try anymore, to make point and click adventures? The converstaions were very bland, and the poor voice actiing clearly exacerbated the situation. The graphics were very disappointing for a game even 3 years older, and the story didnt grab me (I cant even remember what it was about to be honest, not that the demo shares a great deal with you other than suggest you faff about the book shop for 3 hours).

  4. mirdza says:

    Any word on invert mouse option?

  5. Andrew says:

    That review of the “Watson Phenomoma” reminds me of the Consolevania review, which is very funny: http://www.archive.org/details/Consolevania-03×01-Consolevania-Towers

    Nice to see games getting patched, I don’t think I’d be a fan of this particular adventure puzzle thing though.

  6. Bhazor says:

    Games that actually deserve a remastered edition
    KOTOR 2- To restore all the content they had to delete.
    Anachronox- To repair the bugs and boost the pretty and actually give us an ending.
    Black and White- To add in actual content to what feels like an excellent tech demo.
    Baldurs Gate 2 and Planescape – To add in full voice acting like in KOTOR
    Half Life – Source

    But this game? Really? This one?

  7. nakke says:

    Half Life – Source

    Well, there is that thing called Black Mesa (Source). Coming out probably during this century!

  8. Finn says:

    Ah they’ve upped it into the same engine as Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis, which was ok.

  9. Coz says:

    I played this game, and hated it, but I too got a kick out of Watson stalking you. Thanks for the laugh, Mr. Walker.

  10. Alan Au says:

    @mirdza Don’t get your hopes up. On a related note, having to play this game (for a review) is what started me on the painful process of retraining from an inverted-mouse system to a direct-mapping movement system. Even though I’ve managed to learn how to use direct-mapped controls, I think that designers who omit a mouse-invert option need to have their interface design credentials revoked.

    Stalker Watson is unintentionally hilarious.

  11. Pantsman says:

    It was even better when you’d walk away backwards, facing him, seeing him get farther and farther away, until you couldn’t see him at all, then turn around and find that he was right behind you. HOW DID HE GET THERE?

  12. terry says:

    This looks a lot like the venerable 8-bit game “Murder on the Mississippi”. In which case, I approve.

  13. Shadowcat says:

    Watson sounds a little bit like Stealth Cat

  14. Coz says:

    Stealth Cat: The Awakened would have been a far superior game, me thinks.

  15. muscrat says:

    After playing so many shooters…
    I have an urge to play a good adventure game.

  16. Ted says:

    I tried to play their newer game Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis and have never had a game make me so sick ever. I was literally throwing up and in a cold sweat for hours after playing for about 45 minutes. I play lots of FPS’s with no problem, so there was something terribly wrong with their first person implementation.