Wild, Wild West - The Steel Assassin
Release date: 2000
Developer: Southpeak Interactive
Publisher: Ubi Soft
USK: 12 years and up
A review by slydos 10th February 2002
With "Wild Wild West " Southpeak Interactive tries the conversion of the movie of the same name with Will Smith and Kevin Kline to an adventure game. The game will be rereleased at the end of February 2002 and this time as favorable budget version.
Five years after the murder of Abraham Lincoln, president Ulysses S. Grant is to participate in a symbolic theatre performance on the day of Lincoln's death in the same theatre, on that same seat, where Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. But he receives a murder threat from "the real" murderer of Lincoln! The two superagents Jim West and Artemus Gordon are employed, in order to prevent the assassination attempt. After a short briefing the two set off.
Installation and technical issues
After copying mimimal 200 MBs from the installation CD, you are requested to insert CD 2 in order to begin with the game. This CD remains in the drive the whole time - a change is not necessary. Like so often, the specifications concerning disk space requirements don't indicate, what is needed on the Windows drive (if one wants to install the game on another drive). If you, like me, have only few disk space available, that only shows up during the installation, where you can see, how much diskspace is needed additionally. Then you have to deinstall, free some MBs and reinstall the game, until it fits.
I had "Wild Wild West " installed on my laptop computer with Windows ME, where it could be played up to a certain dialogue scene, then however an error occurred again and again, i.e. the dialogue selections were not displayed. (If that was caused by the laptop or the operating system, I don't know). Anyhow, here only one way out remained for me - to install the game on my P 233 with Windows 95 and here I had only few space, so that the above mentioned problems occurred. But I succeeded to produce the savegame and could go on on the other computer. By the way - the savegames are quite easy to differentiate - they have the same text-name, that you give them in the game.
Still another word to the problem with the dialogue selections: The error occurred each time, when our hero tries to select questions or responses from a list, beyond pure clicking on an interlocutor. Then the appropriate text window flashed briefly and disappeared. A tiny, lightyellow point however mostly remained, and if you clicked on it, a response was taken and the game continued. But these selections seemed so rare - perhaps 6 or 7 times in the entire game, so that I preferred, to play "Wild Wild West" on the faster computer to the end. This should only be an info, the game runs smoothly under Windows 95/98, for which it was designed.
After the introduction sequence the gamer is led to a selection menu, where you determine, which role you want to take over first, Gordon or West. "Wild Wild West" is defined as action-adventure and Jim West stands for the action part while Artemus Gordon takes over the adventure part. One can detect directly in this selection menu that each of the two must play four sections and in the last section they will play together. You can choose both in the option menu, the difficulty level of the action and the adventure part (whereby I selected the low with action, with adventure the higher level).
Starting point of each section is the train "The Wanderer" equipped with all possible technical gimmicks. Here our heroes get their basic equipment, can read information about documents from the world-wide first microfilm reader (naturally invented by Artemus Gordon) or recall information spoken by his colleague from tone cylinders in each case. West can carry some weapons while Gordon equips himself with analyzers and masks á la "Mission Impossible".
About menus, the interface bar at the lower edge of the screen, the diary, inventory and the different cursor functions you can read both, in the small manual and during the game in the illustrated help menu.
"Wild Wild West" is generally mouse-controlled - additionally there are some shortkeys e.g. to pause, to call help or quit the game. It's very comfortable, that you can control the heroes completely by mouse and can also execute all shooting or aiming thereby. Compared e.g. with "Casanova" it shows up here that it is possible to design a simpler handling.
However there is a certain acclimatizing phase too at "Wild Wild West", in which one should remember particularly the handling of the inventory items or apparatus/weapons. Objects are taken and applied with the left mouse button, therefore a left hand icon is located on the left side of the interface bar (at the lower edge of the screen) and besides some so-called quick-load-slots for objects. If an object is taken up, it lands in this hand and moves, after you've collected more things, in one of the 4 quick-load-slots, and - if they are filled too - completely disappears in the rucksack (in the center of the interface bar). An object can only be applied, if it is in the left hand and therefore you have to click on the inventory item in the slot or the rucksack, to use it. Some objects can be combined also.
A similar functionality applies to the right mouse button, with which one can use apparatuses (Gordon) or weapons (West). You must first take an apparatus (Gordon) or weapon (West) into the right hand, e.g. an analyzer, to examine the object in the left hand or to fire a weapon. In the interface bar one can find another notification for the amount of ammunition of the respective weapon and a reload button. Our heroes can also die and their state of health is indicated with "5" = core-healthy to "0" = dead. If your hero gets hurt somehow, the number decreases and he begins to hobble and also groans a little. But sometimes you'll find an aid, which returns points of life to the gratefully sighing hero.
In order to do so, you click on the traveling bag and a menu opens, where the remainder inventory, the diary and the respective game character as a person are displayed. If you have e.g. an aid in the left hand and click on the person's picture, you'll receive one point of health back. Here Artemus can also change his clothes.
Our heroes both keep exactly diary, which you can open here. Here they stick in found notes and ponder, what has to be done next. During the game we are pointed to a new entry by the diary symbol and the noise of a turned over page.
Finally you can invoke the main menu through the menu button in the interface bar in order to save, load or modify adjustments.
In the save/load menu you can input your own detailed text beside the current picture of the savegame into a probably unrestricted list. The game itself also makes own automatic savegames (by the way with humorous describing texts in German language) after completing important actions.
It all sounds somewhat more complicated, than it is in reality, because after some exercise you've assimilated the quite logical interface. As simplification I would have required however a scrollable inventory.
The quite small, but self-describing cursor changes its status depending upon its position in the game and can modify its appearance often. A particularly pleasing feature is, that the cursor displays green instead of white footsteps, if with the position change the camera perspective changes too. Thus one always already knows in advance that now a new view of the location follows. In relation to many other games with 3D-actors, there are no wild and unforeseeable camera changes here, with which one often loses orientation. So you always keep track of - a good cause!
Likewise very helpful: The object cursor is first grey, if you can use something with a hotspot and will get green, if the object in the left hand is the correct one! Likewise quite simply the shooting cursor is designed. Since one necessarily cannot always detect whether still another obstacle is in the way or if the angle is correct, the colour red of the hair cross shows whether one can land a hit.
The backgrounds are not quite as splendourful as in "Casanova",they are nevertheless an eye candy and hold a lot of details to examine. Therein our 3D-heroes move not quite freely in 3rd-person-perspective , but can be lead to places, which are given by the cursor, that is however a big quantity.
We sometimes see the actors in side face, often however the view is diagonal from above. As already mentioned, there is no unexpected change of perspective. If the camera point of view changes, then it's usually into a helpful close-up or again into total view, if you must retain the overview. Our heroes are always visible and do not disappear suddenly in the camera off.
However Gordon and West and also the other characters are presented rather raw and sharp-edged. Nevertheless one can detect a similarity with the actors of the movie from time to time in the face or by the movements. West's horse, which must bring him to some place in the wilderness, is however terribly disproportionated! "Wild Wild West" belongs to those games, in which the cutscenes have a worse quality, than the game itself. Rather washed out and indistinct they serve only to connect the scenes. I must emphasize, that all - really all texts - were translated into German. That means not only all dialogue lines and documents in the game were translated, but also graphic details, e.g. the sign-posting in the theatre or the heroes' gravestones in the Game Over-screen. Instead of R.I.P. we find here the German words "Ruhe sanft". They really thought about details.
The puzzles both in Gordon's and West's parts are well integrated into the story and don't trouble the experienced gamer even when chosen the higher degree of difficulty. There are mainly object puzzles - objects must be found, connected and be used at the right time and in the correct place, possibly also several times. Since there are only very few dialogue selections (most of the dialogues run automatical after clicking on the interlocutor), only few text puzzles can be found, e.g. West must help the kitchen girl with a tricky task. A real cross word puzzle must be solved and also a knight move chess puzzle (by the way this can all be found with our action-part-hero West). That shows that West is not reduced on shooting under any circumstances. Far from it!
On the other hand one is surprised during Gordon's second visit of the harbor by the interspersed action part on his water-mobile, where he must avoid their attacks and lure the opponents into traps in the correct moment.
There are no labyrinths and also no puzzles in which one must operate complicate machines. The game becomes time-dependent only, when you face an attacking opponent - in this case you shouldn't loose time, in order to run away or defend yourself. With shrewdness our heroes can escape many direct fights and get adversaries out of the way without using weapons.
But beware - we have only 5 points of health and the opponents often shoot faster, than expected even on unarmed Gordon. (thus not only the West is wild but also the East!) Actually very many tasks consist of evading emerging opponents without own large losses. The technique genius Gordon often does it with the help of his scientific knowledge or with his performing abilities.
West however shoots a number of men, not least, in order to be able to remove important information from them. But he's not a serial killer and takes enough time to lure the opponents into traps and outwits them with sophistication. With the adjustments that I made, the action part (shooting, a drivinging, running away - also a small fencing scene can be found) took approx. 30% of the total game, substantially less than e.g. within "Casanova".
However a bit of despair can arise particularly in the first chapter of West during the shooting scenes, since sometimes the opponents are not visible in the scene and must be sought out. So there are indeed some deaths to endure, which lead however in the long run only to a game length of approx. 25 hours. In the whole "Wild Wild West" is however nevertheless rather an adventure than an action-adventure, since even in the action sequences the "How" plays a more crucial role than speed and sleight of hand.
The good speech output by professional actors, the partial humorous dialogues and texts transport the really imaginative and exciting story excellently. The music changes depending on the story and becomes faster and more exciting, if we are in ticklish situations. The sound effects are partly brilliant, however I cannot imagine that West would have come very far in the real Wild West with his clinking, clashing spurs.
The story, based partly on historical facts, with its futuristic touch and a surprising end, is original and entertaining. Background graphics, texts, dialogues and puzzles are of good quality. The mouse control can convince and the innovative cursor index for change of perspective is praiseworthy. The handling is however not intuitive because of the complexity and the menus cry for simplification. During the action sequences there are problems with invisible opponents. The story and puzzles would have earned more depth, so that the game also would have had finally more length.
With a however relatively small action part of 30 % it is recommended to all those adventure gamers, who don't mind a bit action the more so as the game is exclusively mouse-controlled and here only few reactivity and finger acrobatics are required and also when defeating opponents more brain power. After some initial difficulties I enjoyed the game - and I am reliably no action fan. In approximately 2 weeks the budget version of "Wild Wild West" will be released - who got appetite, can acquire the game then for less than 10 Euro.
My Rating: 76%
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
- Pentium 266
- 64 MB RAM
- 4MB DirectX-compatible graphic card
- 200 MB free hard disk space
- 8x CDROM-drive
- DirectX-compatible sound card
- DirectX 6.1
- Pentium III 850
- 128 MB RAM
- Sound- and graphic card DirectX-compatible
- Toshiba DVD-ROM