reviews\ Nov 19, 2002 at 7:00 pm

The Cameron Files: The Pharaoh's Curse - PC - Review

Upon completing The Cameron Files Pharaoh’s Curse I realized that I wanted more. At the conclusion I felt like I was just getting warmed up. Fortunately Pharaoh’s Curse is the second installment in the series. The first offering was Secret at Loch Ness, and if it was as good as Pharaoh’s Curse I’m ready to sign on for another case.

In Pharaoh’s Curse you play the part of Alan P. Cameron a Private Investigator in the 1930’s. There isn’t a whole lot I know about the man except he has a rather strong resemblance to an archeologist I once met. A Doctor Jones I believe. Anyway a woman named Moira sent for Cameron. You see Moira was involved in an archeological dig which was going just fine until some Nazi goons showed up and started following her. She was a little scared so she contacted her good old pal Cameron and he was ready for another case. But when he arrives he discovers that Moira has been kidnapped. Since he has no details concerning the situation Cameron must dive right into the mysterious doody. He must find Moira and stop an ancient Egyptian mummy who is running around the sands of Egypt turning the archeological team into zombies.

So let's see. Cameron starts at his hotel, which leads him to investigating the basement of a museum where he is assaulted. Later on you make it to some desert island where you must uncover a temple that will bring you to a hellish tomb complete with fire and an ancient mummy you must defeat. Good times I tell ya. There isn’t a whole lot to the story, and plot progression is rather scarce, but what little there is turns out to be pretty darn cool. If you’re an adventure gamer that is. Which I happen to be.

If you’ve played other DreamCatcher adventure games this one will feel very familiar. The gameplay is very similar to older games like The Messenger and Necronomicon and Dracula. The environments are made up of a pre-rendered background and the player has 360 degrees to twirl about hunting for hotspots. When you drag the cursor over something of importance it changes into a cogwheel, or an arrow or other icon to indicate an action can take place.

Once you find something you can keep it in your inventory because you can bet you’ll use it later on. The puzzles are not very difficult. I’d say they offer a decent challenge the only problem is that sometimes you must do things in a very rigid order to proceed. This just makes for a very methodical pixel hunt type of approach. You know what though? This is not a new issue, and if you love adventure games as I do this is accepted and almost expected.

The character of Cameron resembles an Indiana Jones type only he is bald, which I thought was so cool because it is different than all the other cliched game characters out there today. There were several subtle hints throughout the game I noticed that seemed to pay homage to Henry Jones Junior. For instance I found that a Doctor Jones was staying at the same hotel in Egypt. In one room I found a whip lying next to a fedora. It was all good fun.

The voice acting while sparse was all excellent. The mummy was eerie, but not overly gorified, and the comic relief between the Lobby attendant and Cameron worked well. The pre-rendered backgrounds still do a pretty good job of creating atmosphere. The only drawback is that stale feeling every now and then because nothing really moves.

As adventures go this is a very short game, but the puzzle solutions don’t always present themselves with ease due to the games linear path. So a short game becomes a guessing game as you try to figure out what to do next by process of elimination. Pharaoh's Curse has my recommendation especially if you’re an adventure junky like me. I hope another case is in the works.

Gameplay: 7
This game is basically a point and click operation. Drag the mouse cursor around the screen searching for hotspots. This is nothing new to adventure gamers. It’s not hard to do, but it isn’t terribly exciting. The interface was pretty smooth my only gripe is that I had to exit each sub-screen in the inventory section in order to get back to the game instead of one quick click. Such a small gripe though. Petty really. 

Graphics: 8
The cutscene animation is just great. It is short mind you, but what you get is very fluid, and the characters are life-like. The pre-rendered backgrounds do tend to get a bit dated at times especially the outdoor sequences after you arrive on the island. You’re on a boat and the water does not move, but this is minor and it doesn’t really detract from the experience all that much.

Sound: 7
There isn’t much sound or music. Every now and then however you enter an important location and a crisp original score murmurs through the speakers adding a very subtle yet very nice ambience. I also love the song that plays during the menu screen. It’s sort of a laid back hardboiled detective lament.

Difficulty: Easy
The solutions to many of the puzzles are not hard to find however they do require a methodical process of elimination approach at times.

Concept: 8
Raiders of the Lost Ark is the greatest movie of all time. Alan Cameron is Indy’s slightly older, balding cousin.

Overall: 8
Pharaoh’s Curse is short yet sweet and has a potential to continue in a series of other investigations that will hopefully be pursued.


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