The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time
Needless to say, this game is the latest episode in the popular Journeyman Project series. It continues the futuristic story of The Temporal Security Agency (TSA) and Gage Blackwood as he zaps back and forth through time in relentless pursuit of rogue time travellers who are intent on tampering with history.
This story picks up where the last one (Buried in Time) left off when Gage foiled a plot to disrupt world history, but failed to apprehend his nemesis, Agent 3 (Michelle Visard). However, don't worry if you haven't played the previous games and don't know the story thus far because this game tells an exciting story of its own. Also, there's a good overview of past events in the manual and the comprehensive game introduction brings you right up to date. As it happens, Gage hasn't given up on locating the elusive Agent 3 but, to his utter frustration, just as the TSA is closed down and all time travel devices disabled, his quarry comes within easy reach.
Thus Gage is set for action once again, and the only time-travel apparatus to hand is the Chameleon Suit, a secret invention that is so secret it was overlooked when the TSA was closed down. In this game you play Gage and don this suit with a difference. Merely by capturing the image of people that you meet you can assume their likeness and so move around in a different time without being out-of-place and disrupting the course of history. Very useful, and it adds an interesting dimension to the game, as well as to the gameplay, because when interacting with others you need to determine which shape to assume to extract the information you might need.
Not only is Gage able to change shape in this adventure, but the whole game has experienced quite a number of shape-changes ... all for the best in my opinion, although I was a little sad to see the scoring system go. For starters, there's a good deal of character interaction (conversation) that was missing in the previous games, and this gives Legacy of Time a lot more soul and makes it all the more involving. The game is enhanced by a considerably larger action window, quite impressive and evocative graphics, and excellent sound effects that immerse you right into the story. There are also full motion video interludes at various game climaxes and you can move 'through' the game environment via animated sequences, as well as look up and down and turn a full 360 degrees. All this adds up to quite an experience. In particular, the sound of your changing footsteps as you tread on different surfaces is very good and so is the animation when you jump or climb over an object.
As with Buried in Time this game has several environments/time zones that will need careful exploration. This time it's the ephemeral cities of El Dorado, Shangri-La and Atlantis, and each one is fascinating, portrayed with slightly misty graphics making them appear all the more transient.
To begin with there are three simple quests to introduce you to these locations. This part of the game is more or less a warm-up so don't think it is always going to be so simple. As the action progresses it does get more puzzle-oriented with a number of mini quests in each location. These quests involve choosing the right disguise to initiate conversations as well as searching out information and finding various objects to use in different situations. And the object you need might not necessarily be in the same location so, needless to say, there's a bit of time-travel involved.
The problems are of moderate difficulty, but they are interesting and fun. Also, there is quite a lot of leeway to adjust the difficulty level of the game, as Arthur, your digital hitchhiker from Buried in Time, is back to help out. He sits at the bottom of the screen along with your Chameleon Device that allows you to capture images for use in shape-changing, together with an icon to access your inventory.
Now Arthur has several uses if you keep an eye on him. At various times during the game a 'thought bubble' will pop up and you can select it for some background information on the particular civilisation you are visiting or, sometimes, the comments are just a bit of light relief as Arthur will merely have some wisecrack to make. At other times he has a really good idea and in these instances a 'light bulb' accompanies or replaces the thought bubble. This is when he's happy to offer game hints, and he can be progressively very helpful so it is wise to use this icon with caution if you want to solve the problems yourself. When you install the game you have the opportunity to select how much interaction you want with Arthur, although you can change your mind any time during play by accessing the options menu.
Legacy of Time is a first person adventure and comprises four disks with the first one taking care of the introduction and ending, and the other three containing the separate environments you will visit. Time travelling is just a matter of selecting a location from a small menu that drops down at the top of the screen. As you leave a location your progress is marked so you can return to the same spot when you are ready. Left clicking on an arrow is all that's needed for movement within each environment, although panning also requires depressing the left mouse button and it's very easy to accidentally move forward when all you want to do is pan around. Really, this is Legacy of Time's most annoying feature, although the structure of the game is such that you have to do a lot of walking back and forth in each location, an easy travel option definitely wouldn't have gone astray. And, of course, if you are hearing impaired, I also have to deliver the bad news that there are no subtitles.
Your inventory is easily accessible by selecting the relevant icon, and moving the cursor over items will identify them with a text description. To use items you simply drag them onto the screen where they will highlight if you've got it right. The location-sensitive cursor changes to an arrow for moving or into a hand if there is an object that can be manipulated or taken. At other times, when you can zoom in on an object such as an interesting wall painting, it becomes a magnifying glass.
Legacy of Time is a worthwhile addition to the Journeyman Project series; I most certainly enjoyed playing it. Whilst not being too difficult it has an entertaining story, an interesting array of quests to fulfil, and enough gameplay to keep most players happy. On reflection, perhaps it could have been a bit longer, but because of Arthur's helping hand it is a game that I would certainly recommend for novice to intermediate players.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1998.
All rights reserved.
90MHz Pentium or faster, 16MB RAM, Minimum 70MB hard disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive or faster, 640x480 display, 256 colours; High Colour supported, Sound Blaster 16 or 100% Sound Blaster compatible 16-bit sound card, Video and sound cards compatible with DirectX