Put some action in your adventure.
November 17, 1998
From the developers of Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, comes another seafaring graphic adventure. RedJack: Revenge of the Brethren casts you as seventeen-year-old Nicholas Dove, a man destined to play a major role in the coming revenge of the legendary pirate RedJack. The greatest pirate who ever lived, RedJack sailed the Seven Seas with a crew of cutthroats known as the Brethren of the Coast. But, seventeen years ago, the Brethren were betrayed while trying to make off with their greatest heist ever. As RedJack lay dying, he swore his revenge on the one who betrayed him. With the legend of RedJack haunting your dreams, you plan to leave your sleepy home town and seek your fortune as a pirate.
RedJack offers a curious mix of adventure and action. There are both puzzles to solve and enemies to defeat with your blade. The difficulty of puzzles is fairly low, and the characters in the game often have hints to offer, if you're stuck. There are also a lot of fighting sequences where you'll wield your sword, pistol, or a cannon. The fighting sequences are probably the more interesting part of the game, since you'll need to develop different strategies for different opponents. To win a fight you need more than fast reflexes; you often need to think creatively. Unfortunately, even with the action sequences the game is still very short and linear.
The interface in RedJack is fairly straightforward. Moving around the world can be done with either the mouse or the keyboard, but to take advantage of the unrestricted viewing capabilities, you'll need to use the mouse. You also use the mouse to interact with people and objects. An unobtrusive translucent supply trunk hovers in the lower left corner of the screen. You can click on it to open it and access your inventory. During combat, you control your sword or pistol with the mouse. You often can move around during combat using the keyboard. When you're not engaged in conversation or combat, you can press the space bar to access the main screen.
The developers of RedJack have done a great job improving upon the technology used in Titanic. This game boasts full-screen panoramic viewing that allows you to view scenes from any angle. While moving the camera, the graphics become blocky, but when you stop moving the scene becomes high-resolution again. The characters you interact with in the game are computer-rendered models allowing for smooth movement and expressive facial expressions--a major improvement over Titanic's mix of actors for the close-ups and stiff computer models for movement. The characters in the game are also blessed with great voice actors and some charmingly anachronistic dialogue.
The game also features a number of non-interactive full-screen video sequences which blend smoothly into the game. The sound effects are good, but the music is unremarkable.
RedJack has reasonable system requirements, but its full-screen graphics may tax slower PowerPC machines. Even with 64 MB of RAM, I experienced occasional "out of memory" messages that allowed no chance to save the game. RedJack can run in both "16-bit" and "32-bit" graphics modes. The "32-bit" mode is noticeably better, especially when translucency is involved. Unfortunately, despite the manual's claim, the game always defaults to "16-bit" mode and it does not save the setting, requiring the user to manually change it every time the game is opened. Also, when changing the graphics mode from 16- to 32-bit you are presented with an alert box warning you that changing the setting may cause the program to crash! How encouraging! RedJack also offers no option to automatically change monitor resolutions, nor does it provide custom icons for saved games.
RedJack: Revenge of the Brethren starts out with a lot of potential, but falls short in a number of ways. In adding the action sequences, the designers may be trying to attract some more action-oriented gamers, but these sequences alone can't hold the game together. It falls to the story and the puzzles to carry the game. The story is serviceable, but the plot twists don't seem as surprising as they should be. As far as puzzles go, there are few and they are fairly simple. In fact, most of the game seems to be conversation with the various characters which is enjoyable but not enough to replace actual gameplay. The game is enjoyable to play, but offers more flash than substance.
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Copyright 1998 Marc Khadpe
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