The Orion Conspiracy
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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If The Orion Conspiracy Was Invited to a cocktail party it would arrive dressed with the sartorial elegance and table manners of Les Patterson, the diplomacy of Freddie Star and the conversational skills of Bernard Manning. Uncouth, xenophobic, homophobic and downright sexist. The Orion Conspiracy is offensive with a capital "O". It may have a warning on the front of the box - "contains strong language" and an Elspai8+ rating, but these don't prepare you for the completely gratuitous use of foul language and bigoted storyline.
Is it really that obnoxious?
Don't believe me, huh? Let me give you some examples. Ask Brookes what it's like to work there and she replies. "I hate it when men assume you want their dicks. Do you know I called Ward down to the board room and fkd him right there and then on the goddamn floor. I scared the shit outta him." In the bar Ward does his bit for race relations with the immortal words: "Listen Irish, we got niggers, kikes, slant-eyes, spies and asians all cooped up here." Ask Lowe how he relaxes and. wallop, he launches into a blatantly sexist tirade about how G-Spot (Brookes) likes her men hung like a horse and with the stamina of an ox.
No pleasant hobbies like Origami or photography for him! And that's just a taste of what's in store - wait till you experience the homophobia. My name isn't Mary Whirehouse. honest. (I laughed like a drain along with the rest of them in the first scene of Four Weddings and a Funeral), but strong language should only be used sparingly and appropriately to gain maximum effect, otherwise it adds nothing to the storyline and serves only to shock and insult.
About that storyline...
You play Devlin, a clapped-out Space Station researcher who after suffering ruined health because of the corporation wars is retired early and ostracised. After losing his wife he then discovers that his only son Danny, who is stationed on Cerberus, has been involved in a fatal accident. He returns to the space station for the funeral and discovers that Danny's death isn't as straightforward as it looks. It's up to you to discover the dark secrets surrounding Danny's life and death and bring justice to those responsible for his death. So there you have it a rather predictable plot in this John Major of adventure games. No. The Orion Conspiracy hasn't had an affair with a trapeze artist, nothing as interesting as that - it's grey. Drab graphics, leaden animation, murky music and droning speech synthesis all add up to colourless gameplay. Which is a shame since this game does have some things going for it.
And what might they be?
I like to end on a high note so I'll get on to that later, first let me justify my criticisms. Okay so I said the graphics were drab - look at the screenshots and see for yourself. Loads of locations there may be. but many of them look identical such as all the corridors and rooms on levels B3 and B5 for example. It's bad enough having to constantly retrace your steps to revisit rooms and characters without having to look at the same dreary scenery every time you do it. To make matters worse every time you exit a screen you have to wait for the image to go black before arriving at the next screen which is more than likely a portion of corridor identical to the one you just left. And if I ever have to see that pathetic spinning cd again (you get to see that each time the program accesses the CD which feels like every other screen). I swear I'll scream.
What about the animation?
It's true there are some mini-animated sequences, but these are few and far between. At times attention to detail can't be faulted - a nice touch is Brookes' swinging earring when she's warming up on the basketball court but the overall animation is lacking. Most of the time the characters are plank-like in the extreme and would be far better off auditioning for an episode of The Woodentops. Murky music? Well, the first thing I did when I loaded the game up was switch off the accompanying melody - need I say more? Droning speech synthesis? The actors voices are so stilted they make Roger Moore sound lively. Leonard Cohen fans will love it! The sound effects are pretty realistic though - I especially liked the Star Trek-style opening and closing doors.
So what has it got going for it...?
Brrm. well, there's the sophisticated control system which is a cinch to master. Interaction on screen takes place by employing a simple "point and click" action with the mouse. Descriptive text appears when a character or object can be interacted with, and clicking the right mouse button pops up a selection of actions to perform. This feature actually provides a clue on how to solve the various puzzles since it shows you what object you need. No prizes for working out you have to freeze the rat since a fire extinguisher appears with the words "freeze rat" when you select the little rodent, provided you have found the extinguisher of course. Great if you're stuck but irritating if you are already finding the conundrums as easy as shelling peas.
Accessing the inventory is simple too - just move the crosshair off the bottom of the screen to view what you are lugging about with you - Devlin must have very large pockets. Conversing with the various characters (there are around 20 in all) brings its just rewards though you have to wade through a load of reactionary drivel to worm out every juicy, little titbit. Which leads me neatly on to another paradox - each time you speak to a character you are given a list of questions to choose from but the questions are repeated over and over again to every person you meet - seriously tedious. Having said that, when a new question appears in the list after performing a particular action, it's a clear indication of what you must do next therefore providing a due with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Great if you're stuck but... you get my drift.
With all the really outstanding adventures on the shelves at the moment like King's Quest VII, LBA and Star Trek, The Orion Conspiracy makes no secret of being just another run-of-the-mill graphic adventure that just doesn't measure up. However, if you should happen buy it, I have to say that Domark's customer support (especially Simon) is tremendously helpful. So it's true that every cloud has a silver lining!