metzomagic.com Review

Jerusalem: The 3 Roads To The Holy Land

Developer:  Arxel Tribe
Publisher:  Cryo
Year Released:  2002

Review by Peter Smith (July, 2002)

Jerusalem is the sequel to Cryo's game Pompeii: The Legend of Vesuvius. This previous game saw 20th century Scots cartographer Adrian Blake annoy the Goddess Ishtar, and be punished by being sent back in time to Pompeii just before the eruption. His fiancee, Sophia, was also sent back to Pompeii and Adrian had three days to find and rescue her from incineration.... Just as Adrian succeeds in getting Sophia safely out of Pompeii before Vesuvius erupts Ishtar moves him to the Jerusalem of 1552. So begins this game, Jerusalem, where Ishtar again leaves Adrian to find and rescue Sophia, this time in a city ruled by the Ottomans and special to three major religions.

On this journey Adrian will meet quite a few of the varied inhabitants of Jerusalem and visit places like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the governor's palace. He will get caught up too in trying to rescue the governor's daughter, Hykmah, who has been kidnapped by a religious fanatic, Hayyat. Hayyat has also stolen the newly discovered "Abraham's Dagger" which the three religions in Jerusalem are at loggerheads over, all claiming it for themselves. Adrian will encounter treachery and superstition and ignorance and faith as he follows the paper chase that Hayyat leads him on. He even gets to visit the Dome of the Rock (sacred to Islam) in a curious dream sequence that didn't seem to fit into the rest of the game. The sequence may have just been meant to teach about Sufi mysticism.

Edutainment
Jerusalem, developed by Arxel Tribe who did the animation for Pompeii, is very much an edutainment title and doesn't have to be played as an Adventure game. You can just visit Jerusalem and can consult the encyclopedia. The information in the encyclopedia and game as a whole gives a rough feel but isn't suitable as reference material. It's rather sketchy and confuses what different faiths believe. Playing as an Adventure is also an educational experience as the dialogue tends feel like the characters are lecturing you about various historical and religious facts. In this respect Jerusalem feels quite different to Pompeii. In Pompeii you did learn a little about the ancient Romans but it felt natural, it fitted in with the situation. In Jerusalem the author is putting words into the characters' mouths to suit the message he wants the story to have. Which is very much a late 20th century one about humanism.

Jerusalem is a first person perspective adventure with 360 degree views. First person, that is, apart from one sequence where you manipulate your character in a third person view. The graphics are as good as recent Cryo games like Egypt 2: The Heliopolis Prophecy. The locations and characters are rendered in good detail. Adrian keeps a diary for you but this is not a game you'll need to take notes in. The voice acting ranges from the adequate to the bizarre (one character was voiced like a Goon if that means anything to you.) At one point at least there is a chunk of dialogue missing in the English version of this game but it didn't affect the gameplay. Just the lips tend to move when characters speak, but I got used to this.

Sounds and puzzles
The background music fitted the period but was a little repetitive. Turned down enough I didn't really consciously notice it. I notice background music more if it's not there.

There are one or two timed puzzles but no musical tone matching puzzles. The easy gameplay mainly involves finding the right inventory item to achieve something, or talking to the various characters to trigger events. The hotspots can be challengingly small, and sometimes items you're looking for are invisible on the screen.

Like Pompeii, Jerusalem awkwardly forces you to do things in a desired order. So, for instance, the hotspots to retrieve a pair of spectacles don't become active until you know you need to retrieve them. This feels very artificial to me. Part of adventuring is collecting random objects without knowing why.

Save often
You can and will die so saving often is a good idea. Saving often also seemed to help prevent the game hanging. On my system (Win98) the game would hang regularly, particularly if I tried to press escape to skip the dialogue. Apart from this there were no real bugs although in a corridor scene I ended up with two Adrians visible. During the second timed puzzle (the fire at Hayyat's house) you can leave the location, return to it, and be back in time before the fire started.

The game is mouse controlled and a right click brings up the status line at the top which shows the inventory and also has tabs for the diary and main menu. There are plenty of save slots and they can be named. For each save slot you get a thumbnail picture of where the game was saved. Subtitles are available for the dialogue and the volume of music and voices can be adjusted. The 3D sound can also be set to normal or inverse.

Overall the graphics and background music are good and the voice acting tolerable. Jerusalem is a pleasant enough playing experience but it is fairly short and routine. It is about the same length and quality as Egypt 2 but I liked the story and heroine of Egypt 2 more. It is better produced than Pompeii. The puzzles are easy for experienced gamers but may well suit beginning adventurers though there are better games than this one to start off with.

Will we see the final part of what was to be a trilogy starting with Pompeii? That must be in doubt given the recent demise of Cryo.

metzomagic.com rating:  

Copyright © Peter Smith 2002. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Win 95/98/2000, Pentium 200 MMX with 32MB of RAM (Pentium III 450MHz,  64MB RAM recommended), 440MB free hard drive space, 4MB video memory.  Minimum configuration is a 8X CD ROM and 16 bit colour (24 bit  recommended). Soundblaster compatible sound card, mouse, keyboard.  DirectX 8.0a included on the CD ROM.