E.T. - Phone Home
For all ages
A review by slydos 07th April 2002
The movie "E. T. - The Extraterrestial" celebrates its 20th anniversary and is shown as extended and digitally remastered version again in the cinemas. For this reason Ubi Soft releases several games to this topic on different platforms, among them also the adventure game "E.T. - Phone Home" from the French developer "Lexis Numerique".
"E.T." comes on one CD together with the consise manual in a DVD box. All usual Windows versions up to XP are supported and you'll need approx. 80 MB fixed disk space for the installation. After the smooth automatical installation routine one can select first the language of the game by flag symbols: German, French or Dutch. Afterwards both, text and the spoken word, appear in the respective language. One then can input one's name - under this name the game is also saved later - and arrives at the main menu, which is presented in realistical colourful look. Here you can find the options Print, Play, Quit and Movie Trailer, depending, over which screen area we drive our mouse.
Michael watches the landing of an ufo and makes the acquaintance of the small extraterrestial E.T.. Michael, Gertie and Elliot help E.T. to return safely to its spaceship. Many objects must be collected and a series of tasks must be fulfilled until E.T. could finally build a broadcast station and sets out.
E.T. is totally mouse-controlled, whereby the mouse cursor is represented by E.T.'s animated hand. One can move E.T. in 3rd-person perspective through the gaming area by simply clicking with its finger on a spot. Obstacles must be evaded, otherwise sonny simply pauses. With its light finger E.T. can set things in motion, e.g. an electric train or a model airplane. But that is meant only for the fun of the gamers and no constituent of a puzzle.
If E.T. can take an object, manipulate something or can leave the room, the cursor changes into a waving hand á la "7th Guest". If you take up a useful object, it must be placed in the inventory. Michael explains the handling and you can move the mouse over the backpack in the right upper corner and the inventory bar opens. Besides there are still three more icons for Help, Save and Quit. If you got stuck, you can simply click on Michael's or Gertie's head-icon and get spoken hints. Normally only one savegame per player is created automatically. If one assigns more than one name in the beginning, then it is possible to select from another savegame. That is however not really necessary.
All around felicitous and easy controls, which can be understood by every age group intuitively, also without reading knowledge.
The puzzles are very easy so even small children won't despair. However I think that older children, over the age of 9, will be unchallenged already, because finding and applying objects can be solved easily and the altogether 12 mini games are also of no heavy challenges. The puzzles or tasks are very well integrated into the game, for example by searching mother's book shelf E.T. mixed up the books and must arrange them in the correct order again or it must shift crates in sokoban manner in the attic, in order to get some important tools.
These tasks are very entertaining and must be completed in each case 3 times consecutively with rising difficulty level. Here I must criticize however that the specification on the box suggests the whole thing a bit different: 3 difficulty levels of the game means for me that I can select the degree of difficulty of the puzzles, so that it remains still interesting even for older children. That is here however not the case. Misleading also Ubi Soft's predicate that the game remains still interesting thereby also for parents.
The major part of the game can be mastered without large knowledge in reading and writing, however there is a puzzles or better a mini-game, where one must repeat given words (written in block letters) under time pressure on the keyboard. The time frame is here very scarce and one must read and write at the same time - this is only something for children, who have already writing knowledge.
By the way some of the mini games are on the spot repeatable, e.g. Gertie's flower game. One cannot die in E.T.. However it can happen that you make a mistake in one of the mini games, particularly within the bicycle tour at the end, and then you are automatically back-thrown and must restart and repeat this task. Very imaginative also the time-dependent pursuit through the city, which reminded me of early Police Quest games. Here one must shift trucks into the streets and into the way of the approaching pursuers and at the same time select the shortest possible way out, because one is otherwise caught up.
The graphics of the game are very colorful and bright and both background and characters are wonderful detailed and naturalistic. Except E.T.s movements, animations are economically used. The perspective changes frequently from the side view to a pseudo-3D-view from diagonal above to a direct plan view, particularly when E.T., and in one case also Michael and Elliot, must be controlled very precise. This changes are adapted to the game events and very diversified.
The interspersed video sequences, e.g. E.T.s arrival, are however rather blurred. However here you can at least find some face animations, particularly with the surprised or anxious Michael. The few accompanying music themes are taken from the movie and have of course a large recognizing value.
A graphical affectionately designed adventure game with easy puzzles for children, who have already some reading and writing knowledge. Children starting from approx. 9 years will probably also have their fun with this game, but were however not really challenged and will have finished the game within less than 2 hours. For all old and new E.T. fans a nice, however vey short reminder of their movie heroes.
My rating: 66 %
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:
- Windows 95/98/2000/Me/XP
- Pentium II 233 Mhz
- Graphic card 640 x 480 and 32 bit color
- Soundblaster compatible sound card
- 32 MB RAM
- 80 MB on hard disk
- 8x CDROM-drive
- Pentium III 850
- 128 MB RAM
- Sound- and graphic card DirectX-compatible
- Toshiba DVD-ROM
Here you can select your language
The main menu
Michael, Gertie and Elliot help E.T.
The attic door cannot be opened easily
Mother's books must be put back in the correct order
Getting the umbrella
The broadcasting station nearly works
Escaping the pursuers in Police-Quest-style