reviews\ Jan 7, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Dracula Unleashed - XB - Review

The Prince of Darkness has risen once more and is moving along the streets of London, spreading his foul evil.

Your job, as Alexander Morris, is to catch up with Dracula and dispatch him into the abyss of eternal rest. Your weapon is your DVD remote.

Infinite Ventures has created a DVD adventure that spans many platforms and the navigation is through your remote control. In some ways, the game allows everyone who has a DVD player to experience wireless gaming.

The game itself is a mystery-oriented program with cutscenes propelling the game play. Alexander Morris has tracked the elusive Count to London, where the later has taken to his old ways. Having sworn revenge, Morris must follow the clues, uncover mysteries, elude or battle the undead toward a confrontation with the count.

The game asks players to collect information along the way to make choices in which direction to go. For example, Alexander may stop by a newsstand and get a tip from the newsy that more information and a good after-work drink may be had at a local tavern. Alexander looks thoughtful (clue to game players that this is good information), and leaves the stand. He travels to the tavern, but, mysteriously, it is closed. Making an off-handed comment, he leaves.

But why is it closed? And where would Jonathan venture to next?

While the cutscenes remain the same with each visit, the nice part of having the game queued with a remote control is that you can speed past it, or back up to review crucial information. After each scene ends, players are confronted with choices laid out across the bottom of the screen. You select which option you want to take in the same way you navigate through DVD selections.

This game is surprisingly easy to navigate through. And though the acting borders on the melodramatic style found in daytime soap operas (thoughtful looks, dramatic pauses), the mood is set up well. Some of the accents used are slightly overdone, but the sound is, overall, crisp and clean.

While players may wander around the world, the game path is somewhat linear. The game has more than 150 live action scenes, and can be played on any DVD player.

Dracula Unleashed purports to follow in the same vein (so to speak) as Bram Stoker’s original masterpiece. The tone is there, the live action is somewhat intriguing, and the game takes the adventure gaming concept a little further down the line than most of the title currently produced. While the DVD-orientation is different, the game concept itself is akin to some of the titles that the former Southpeak Interactive used to turn out (games like Dark Side of the Moon and Temujan). The game can be redundant, if you fail to pick up the clues (which can be obvious at times) but is a nice twist.

Conventional gamers seeking wide-open game play with interactive action may find this a stifling experience, while those who want to sit back and enjoy a rich experience unfolding before them may enjoy it. This is the opportunity to watch a live-action tale unfold and give it direction.

This game is unrated.


Gameplay: 7
This is a game that allows little open-ended play, and asks players to figure out and pursue the path through the game. Players essentially make a decision and then watch what unfolds based on that decision. This is a deceived category simply because players are acting more like a scriptwriter or director than a game player.

Graphics: 8
Again, this is a tough category to rate simply because this is a live-action game. The environments are done within the time period, but are not expansive by any stretch of the imagination. The look of the game, despite the limitations of the medium, is very good.

Sound: 7.5
The actors’ accents can sound a little overdone in some instances, but they did go for the era and setting in order to convey the tale better and it works, for the most part.

Difficulty: Easy
The actors telegraph some of the importance of the clues, and while you need to collect information and clues, the puzzles involved are not overly difficult.

Concept: 8
The idea of live-action interspersed with gaming decisions is not new, but putting this game on an interchangeable platform disk is a wonderful concept.

Overall: 7.2
This game scores well for concept. It is not the style of game that will appeal to everyone, but is a cerebral exercise that puts players in the mode of scriptwriter and director more than game player.


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