Hopkins FBI joins the fast growing list of adventure games that are not distributed widely or promptly. It was released last year and has just fallen into our hands. In the meantime I've had plenty of time to prepare for the much talked-about graphic violence and nudity, so I wasn't at all surprised. But was I impressed? Not in the least! For some reason I'm not partial to close-ups of mutilated bodies of young women and, as for chatting to bloody characters with their heads cleaved open or knives plunged into their chests, well, it's hardly enthralling stuff.
Hopkins FBI begins with a short introduction where you learn that a gang of thugs has been holding the United States to ransom with the threat of nuclear holocaust. When their demands are not met two missiles are launched killing 50,000 people in California. The subsequent investigation, headed by Special Agent Hopkins, eventually nabs the perpetrator, Bernie Berckson. He is tried and sentenced to death, only to miraculously cheat the electric chair at the very last minute.
This third-person perspective adventure takes its inspiration from any number of the high-action comic books where a maniacal character with no conscience is out to dominate the world, and where fiendish scientific experiments are behind it all. Of course, as Agent Hopkins, you must unravel the mess, which will take you along a trail of mutilated bodies and missing scientists, through a near-death experience and on to the terrorist headquarters and scientific station for a final confrontation.
Well, the graphics are not 'the latest', no 3D environment here, but they are certainly very respectable and I have no complaints apart from my failure to relish some of the close-ups with their lavish servings of blood. There are several environments to explore including the 'big city' where you start out and where there is an overhead map to expedite travel ... you see your car making its way from location to location. From here there's the forest, before you find yourself visiting a quite surrealistic 'heavenly' location as you have your scrape with death. Then it's back home and off to the tropics and your final destination.
In short there's quite a lot to see and do and the soundtrack varies from 60's beat music through to lighter 'mood' tunes. The 60's music is quite effective, and different, and, although I might have chosen different songs, there's a fair measure of nostalgia in store for baby boomers. The voice acting is pretty average, but not distracting and you can enable subtitles, which earns a big plus from me even though there isn't a lot of dialogue. When in conversation with another character they appear in close-up and the background turns black and white. You just choose what you want to say from the speech options at the bottom left of the screen.
Hopkins FBI is a mouse-controlled game for the most part, just click where you want Hopkins to move and he'll stroll on over, double click on screen exits and he'll 'jump' there. When exploring you simply pass your cursor over the screen and when it meets an object or character with which you can interact, a text tag appears to alert you that there is something to do. At this point you can 'go' to that location or cycle through a list of verbs (look, talk, take, search and move) by pressing the right mouse button. The choice of verbs is a nice touch and harkens back to the 'good old days' when you didn't just click on something to see what happens. It is much more immersive than the generic 'smart' cursor and I fervently wish that more designers would go back to it.
The extra involvement of being able to interact with screen objects more intricately makes the exploration and puzzle solving in Hopkins considerably more satisfying. Much of the game is traditional adventure fare, finding objects and using them appropriately, although it's certainly on the easy side and experienced adventurers will, literally, skip through most of it with hardly a second thought. Even the riddles that lead you from one murder scene to the next are relatively straightforward.
I did say much of the game is traditional adventure fare, meaning it's not all adventuring. There's an arcade type sequence in the forest where you must shoot baddies who pop out from either side of the screen; fairly annoying for adventure game players, but not nearly as devastating as the shoot-em-up sequence at the end. Here, as you explore the scientific complex, you are thrust into a Doom-type world where you must leave the mouse behind and switch to keyboard controls. It's kill or be killed as you face machine gun toting guards at every corner. Fortunately your ammunition is limitless, but my patience wasn't. There might have been some interesting puzzles slotted into this section, but I can't honestly report on them because I immediately reached for, and slavishly followed, the walkthrough to end it all as soon as possible. For me, at least, the exploration lost its fascination at this point and I slipped straight out of puzzle-solving mode and straight into panic mode.
Needless to say, Hopkins FBI is not a pure adventure, fans of traditional adventures should play it at their peril. Although the puzzles and problems are entertaining and backed up by a good interface that allows intricate exploration, they don't hold much challenge. If it wasn't for the action elements maybe I would recommend this game for easy-going adventure players who hate to be stuck, but I find it difficult to recommend any game that dines out on sex and violence
No doubt Hopkins will be touted as an 'adult' game (see Adult Games for a discussion of this misnomer) but my guess is that it will be most appealing to teens and pre-teens. I'd go so far as to say that it was designed specifically for this demographic, young boys in particular, taking into account the touch of 'Doom' as well as the decidedly male 'heaven' that's on show. Well it is populated by available/naked women and mostly bloody, grotesque men ... it's certainly not my idea of 'heaven'.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1999.
All rights reserved.
Pentium133, 16 MB RAM, Win 95/98, Microsoft DirectX 5 or higher, 20 MB hard drive space (90 MB recommended) SVGA video card, 4xCD-ROM or faster, Sound card, mouse and keyboard