Famous Five 5 - Secret Mission M.A.G.-X
Release date: 09/2001
A review by slydos 31st October 2001
Famous Five 5 - Secret Mission M.A.G.-X is the fifth game of the adventure series after the books of Enid Blyton for ages 7 and up. Just like in the other 4 games the location is Kirrin house and its surroundings and Kirrin island. While the five friends, George, Ann, Dick, Julian and Timmy the dog are wondering if there will be any exciting things happening during their holidays, they could watch a plane crashing with clouds of smoke onto Kirrin Island. A new mission for the Famous Five begins.
The installation of the game from one CD (about 80 MB on hard disk are required) makes problems contrary to the 4 predecessors.
Neither on a Pentium II 233 with Windows 95 nor on a Pentium III 850 with Windows ME the game is ready to play after installation. With both computers the opening sequence is aborted and you'll be pushed back to Windows. Under Windows ME you are able to resume the game after an error message however. Since both, the older and the newer computer, correspond to the system minimum requirements, I tried installation on the older computer again.
A not-documented configuration file on the CD allowed me to switch off a "Multi-thread-cursor" - whatever may be hidden behind that. Afterwards the game functions until the end sequence, where it crashed again, without additional return to the system surface. However our characters move unusually slow and glitching, although actually in relation to the earlier games nothing world-moving changed in graphics, surface and handling. The locations remained the same, speech sounds quite similar and also short keys and other handling did not change in relation to Famous Five 4.
What urges the developers thus to make noticeable fundamental modifications in the program is veilful to me. Anyhow it is the first game of the series, which showed installation and performance difficulties.
Away from the technique - what does this new game bring us contentwise? The story starts exciting: an aircraft crashing, a pilot on a secret mission, a mysterious man...
In 3rd person perspective we accompany our heroes in this mouse-controlled 2D-adventure. The dialogues - professionally expressed - usually run automatically, so at the beginning or every time our heroes appear at a new scene. One can stop them with the escape-key. The free choice of a dialogue partner is very rare and already belongs to the puzzle part of the game.
Also the main character, who carries the inventory and must execute acute actions, is determined automatically. It's either George or Dick, the other two characters Ann and Julian are company and deliver some comments from time to time. The same with Timmy, the dog. In the earlier parts of the series Timmy barked at least here and there, when you clicked on him or one of the other characters delivered a comment. Not so in part 5. When clicking on them, the other children remain mute, not even showing Julian's name with a text bar while crossing with the mouse pointer.
There's not much to do for the gamer - after one of the automatic dialogues, in which they usually speak quite clearly about what to do next, the concerning character can go to another scene or also execute an action, e.g. take up an object. Names of objects or persons appear when the mouse comes near.
However one cannot take such marked objects at once to the inventory, but must wait, until it's their turn in the game process. Only then taking up is possible. Example: On the clearing the friends find a injured man. Not far away you see some branches, which cannot be taken however the are displayed. Only after finishing the dialogues "... we must help him ... the leg must be splinted... best we to take some branches..." one can actually remove the branches. This is how freedom of decision is limited. There were not so much restrictions in earlier games. Thus also the quantity of objects at the same time available in the inventory is small, since you can only take up objects really needed and must use them directly again. You can open the rucksack-inventory with one click on the active character, George or Dick. The huge inventory will then cover nearly the whole screen. There are still two puzzles deviating from this pattern, which require a little own thinking. All in all even for a seven year old this is not a great challenge but more an interactive story.Who has already played Famous Five 4 - Dangerous Discovery, the best game of the series with puzzles, that requires a lot more thinking, will probably be disappointed by the newest game. Compared to it the almost pure spectator existence in Famous Five 5 makes few fun.
You also can play the entire game in the English version or just switch between languages.You only have to click in the bottom right corner of the screen on the German flag and speech and text changes to English. If you click on the English flag, you can change again into German. logical, isn't it? Here one can improve one's English vocabulary and language understanding. A capital feature.
Famous Five 5 has marvelous, detailed background graphics, which already could be admired in the four predecessors. In part 5 no new scene was added. However the quality of the characters has worsened as their movements are blurred.
However if you have any problems solving the puzzles despite the small degree of difficulty, you can use the also installed help files in German or English language. There are graduated hints up to the solution of individual tasks.
If you want to move a bit faster from scene to scene, you can click on the compass on the left lower corner of the screen to choose another location. Likewise on the bottom left you can find the options menu. With F1 you can go to the main menu to load and save. Deviating from the first 3 games of the Famous-Five series, you can only save your game with a text description without any image of the actual screen.
Total gaming time is about 4 hours - a bad cost-performance ratio.
I cannot really recommend to buy the game. Especially because there are some better existing examples of the same series. The few decision possibilities condemn the gamer to be a spectator, the technical problems do their rest. Unfortunately not a single new location was added. The fifth part of the series shows fatigue symptoms of the developers and is probably rather a game for Enid Blyton collectors. I would recommend all other gamers to play the first 4 games of the series and at the best part 4 which has surely double game time and more difficult puzzles. Additionally some other recommendable adventures have been released, Here for example you can find a new Review about "Julias Zeitreise".
My Rating: 46%
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)
- Windows 95/98/2000/NT 4.0 or higher
- Pentium 166 Mhz or higher
- 32 MB RAM
- Graphic card 24 bit
- 16bit Soundcard
- 8x CDROM-drive
- Windows 95
- PII 233 MHz
- 64 MB RAM
- 4 MB Graphic card
- 16bit Soundcard
- 24x CDROM-drive