Titanic: Adventure Out of Time
Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. The name gives the game away really. It's not a modern day adventure dealing with the politics of salvaging the famous wreck, it is truly an 'adventure out of time' taking you back to experience the last night on that fateful ship. In this adventure you will have the opportunity to change the course of history, but no matter what, the Titanic's fate is sealed ... you can't do anything about the inevitability of that particular event.
Play begins in a seedy London boarding house. It's April 1942 and World War II is underway. You play a disgraced Secret Agent, Carlson, and whilst the radio announcer reports on the War you pick up the letter that delivered your marching orders from the Secret Service 30 years ago after you failed miserably on your Titanic mission. Outside a bomb falls in the street, the window shatters and you are miraculously 'blown' back to the past with an opportunity to make amends.
Switch to your sumptuous cabin on the Titanic and enter Smethells, your Steward, who gives you a map of the ship and has some good advice to get you started. He also delivers a message for you to meet with your contact, Penny Pringle, who will direct you on your mission. So don't make the same mistake as last time, ignore your lost love for the moment, and go to meet Ms Pringle to get her instructions. You won't necessarily succeed in your mission, you might even go down with the ship, as during your voyage there are many matters vying for your attention and it all depends on which way you choose to move.
Titanic: Adventure out of Time is a first person perspective adventure and, as you will soon find out, the Titanic is a hot bed of political and criminal intrigue. There are many passengers with whom you can interact and they mostly all have information that is in some way relevant to your mission which revolves around getting hold of three crucial artifacts that have the potential to change world history.
Although you have an inventory the game is primarily conversation based so it is important to talk to your fellow passengers to learn of their intrigues and, if possible, to sort them out as you go. Just click on everyone you meet (the cursor will change to a hand) and they will begin talking. The conversation is subtitled if you activate the relevant switch and you will get a list of reply options so that you can direct the conversation to meet your own ends. Even the most inane remarks might be important, for instance, to locate various passengers. As well as ferreting out your main quarries you might also find yourself looking for lost jewellery, delivering blackmail messages, or even rescuing a kidnapped baby and more. Along the way you will need to become proficient at sending telegrams, regulating the steam in the engines and there is also a Russian Doll to open that might have an important item to help you out.
In the creation of this game great care has been taken in reproducing the Titanic and the graphics are wonderfully detailed. The experience of exploring this doomed vessel is quite eerie and, though I am no expert, it seemed extremely realistic. You can't go everywhere (there are some locked doors) but walking up the Grand Staircase is an experience, as is wandering the warren of upper and lower class accommodation, strolling the boat deck and visiting the engine room, the Turkish Baths and the Gymnasium. Pity you miss out on the Library!
Whilst the game is mouse controlled for accessing the game options and for interacting with the game world, movement is keyboard controlled. However, transitions are fluid and the graphics only blur a little as you move from location to location. And speaking of movement, there is a very useful arrow at the bottom of the screen that changes colour to indicate if you can progress forward. This saves a lot of frustration trying to access unreachable areas.
For conversation the various characters are depicted in still graphics with facial features animated as they speak. It's a little weird at first but ultimately quite humorous. Both the character expressions and the voice acting are so intense (over the top really) it adds to the urgency of the game. I know that some players are sure to grumble, but I rather liked it. You'll have to decided on this facet of the game for yourself.
The Titanic is a big ship and one way to travel is to use the map that Smethells kindly supplies. This map is located below the picture screen, along with the bag which is your inventory and a life preserver which gives access to all game controls such as saving/loading and adjusting sound and text options. The map allows fast access to strategic points on each deck from where you can travel to your intended destination.
If in doubt about the location of an 'address' there is always the friendly lift attendant to help you out. Assistance can also be sought from the Purser who has the cabin numbers of all significant passengers and Smethells is always ready (though not particularly happy) to remind you how to interact with the game. If in doubt at any time, Ms Pringle will keep you in line to complete your mission.
It's bad news for some adventure players, I'm afraid, but there are a couple of arcade-like sequences in Titanic that I could have well done without. There is one fist fight and one fencing duel. I failed miserably in the fist fight, but it didn't seem to impair my progress, I only wish there was an 'escape' trigger so that I could have by-passed the inevitable disgrace. I fared better with the fencing exercise so fortunately it is not too difficult because you do have to 'win' at least one contest to get the desired result.
Other than this there is a timed period at the end of the game after you have struck the iceberg ( I hope I'm not giving anything away here :-)). This section of the game is short and as the time ticks by you will see some very good cut scenes of the devastation as the Titanic loses its battle with the sea. Depending on your progress, there are different things to do at this time, but there is plenty of time to take care of them. Here the change of pace works well to inject a sense of urgency into your mission and, even if you don't complete all your tasks you can always try again.
Titanic is a surprisingly absorbing adventure with lots of different scenarios. It comprises two disks with most of the play contained on the second disk. The problem here is that you must always open the game from the first disk which gets very annoying after a while. It also offers a 'tour' mode as well as a 'game' mode. In the tour mode you can simply explore the ship and soak up the atmosphere.
For anyone interested in the Titanic disaster I'm sure this game is a 'must play'. And if you don't know much about it then why not take the cruise anyway? You'll learn some interesting facts about this magnificent ship and you can even learn to distinguish between the pointy and the blunt ends along the way. It's good fun (for want of a better word) so try your luck and see if you can halt Hitler in his tracks and maybe prevent World War II or perhaps even stop the Russian Revolution. What a shame the designers missed a golden opportunity to allow for a genderless character in this adventure instead of stamping the main protagonist as male. It would have been so easy, and then all game players could have shared equally in the fun of stepping into the shoes of the character.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1997.
All rights reserved.
486 /66 or faster (Pentium recommended), 8MB RAM (16 MB recommended), SVGA Video Card and Colour Monitor, 100% Windows compatible sound card, 2 speed or faster CD ROM. Software: Win 95, Win 3.1, Win NT 3.51 or later. Also available for the Mac