Before Adam and Eve were created, God attempted to create a being in his image, and so became the Firstborn. Neither light nor dark, both terrible and beautiful to behold, it disturbed the Almighty, who banished this flawed creation into the Abyss. There, it waited and watched until it was able to reach out with its power into our world. Seven Sumerian priests met its arrival and fought to contain it, successfully entombing the place of its escape within a great ziggurat. Ever since that time, there would always be a secret order that would train seven warriors to await the Firstborn’s attempts to escape. They would always disappear into the ruined city of Al Khali that had been built atop this bedrock of strife and somehow succeed in banishing the Firstborn back to the Abyss. However, none of these teams have ever returned from their Mission. The Firstborn would make seven attempts to escape, each time taking back a piece of the earth to add to its domain. Fragments of time and space would form layers around Al Khalid, entrapping pieces of history within its walls from the time of the ancient Sumerians to World War II. Over time, other conquerors would arrive to claim the city as their own but eventually, the city was forgotten and buried by the sands around it. The Department of Occult Warfare was created in the 1930s to combat the unexplained and meet Nazi Germany’s own research into the paranormal. One of their most brilliant members, Arnold Leach, was recruited in 1962. However, his unscrupulous behavior and nature would eventually have him expelled. He was marked for assassination, and although the operation appeared to be successful, it seems he may have survived. Now I have read through some impressive openings to games in my time, but certainly nothing that left me wanting to know more than I did when I read the premise to Jericho as noted above. Codemasters along with Clive Barker the master of Horror have developed Clive Barker’s Jericho for the Xbox 360 and being a lover of survival horror games I was certainly not going to pass up the chance to lock and load and take control of the Jericho team and fight to save the world. Clive Barker’s Jericho is a supernatural horror first person shooter, so as you would imagine immerses the gamer into a deep and dark world fighting to not only save the day but to stay alive and along the journey looking to scare the what-sits out of you too. As you begin your campaign in Jericho you will be in control of the Jericho squad leader; Captain Devin Ross, and your trusty side kicks will include Sergeant Frank Delgado, Corporal Simone Cole, Lt Abigail Black, Wilhelmina ‘Billie’ Church, Father Rawlings and Xavier Jones. Each of your squad member’s posses up to two arcane powers and while you will get to play with these powers at greater length later in the game – I will leave out those details for now. Arriving at Al Khali you are attempting to track down Leach and discover why communication from the Swiss team sent to Al Khali has ceased. It is not too long into this opening when things start to turn a tad freaky and you find yourself facing a bigger threat and enemies that appear to be resurrected from Hell itself and hell-bent (excuse the pun) on causing your team as much pain as possible. Things seem to go from bad to worse and Ross ends up dead… but not forgotten, as it now seems his ghost form is able to inhabit the bodies of the other squad members and so begins your real journey into how you will play and manage to survive in the world of Jericho. At this point, and has to be said after quite a lot of intense action, the game calms you down a tad by providing training with each of the characters at needed and given times at what I will class as the proper start to the game. Controlling Ross was in essence all about just pulling the trigger for the first few levels but now you have the ability to control how you attack each level – this is where the real fun begins. Certain powers will not be unlocked for your characters until later in the game but each time you are allowed yet another choice you will be guaranteed that your character has at least one of their possible two powers active and free for you to play with. My favourite throughout the game was without doubt Lt Abigail Black. Black carrying a sniper rifle that has a secondary weapon function of a grenade launcher and her arcane arts include telekinesis, so as such being able to break through areas that would normally block the team in and then later in the game Black unlocks her ghost bullet which, when used allows you to guide the bullet from her rifle through and up to three enemies matrix slow mo style. Then you have Sergeant Frank Delgado who has managed to tame Ababinili; a flame guardian and therefore makes Franks your pyromancy expert. Frank is able to use Ababinili to attack the nearest enemy or to shield him in a ring of fire, burning anyone that gets too close. Frank also carries a chain gun and really does become the brute of the bunch and great for laying masses of firepower when the heat is really on. The next in the pack and another very cool character to use is Corporal Simone Cole. Cole has the ability to hack time and as such slow down time allowing her to move at normal speed. Cole is also able to increase the damage dished out by her fellow members weapons for a short period of time… and as there are now weapon pickups in this game Cole also hacks and downloads weapon reloads at much needed times throughout the game. Following Cole you then have Wilhelmina Church or Billie to her friends. Church skills include the blood ward, and through making a cut on her palm she is able to then ensnare any enemies that get too close stopping them from moving and making for the easy kill. Her second power is the fire ward and like the blood ward but cutting her palm this time she is able to burn anyone that gets in range of the ward. Church is also the trained Ninja of the team and carries a Katana blade and a MK7 machine pistol as backup. The final two firstly include Father Rawlings a priest packing a pretty darn mean pair of handguns and being able to change the ammo types including changing across to explosive bullets and Rawlings is your main healer that can heal any of the team from distance rather than having to be next to them. Lastly you have Xavier Jones and Jones has the skill of astral projection allowing him to leave his body and take over someone else’s body. Jones is the one you will pretty much ignore throughout the game and is only used when you have to, allowing you to control another body and usually an enemies and to unlock switches you would not normally be able to reach. I pretty much made good use out of all the characters and as mentioned only leaving Jones out for the majority of the time. But you will no doubt pick a favourite and like me tend to hog them when you can. There are of course certain portions of the game where you end up as a single character for whatever reason (no spoilers here) and as such need to stick with them until you get the job done and can get back to your unit. Before moving on, I did just want to highlight that changing from character to character is very easy and in the main only has you needing to look at the character you wish to be and pressing A or if you cannot see them by holding A and selecting their name from the drop down choices. Ross will still issue commands no matter what body you are in as after all the game is designed that it is in fact Ross controlling the host body at that moment in time, so don’t get too freaked out when you jump to Black only to find the female voice is now Ross. As mentioned in the reviews opening piece, every time the firstborn has attempted to escape seven warriors have stopped it and every time this has happened the first born has taken that time line piece of the world back with him. And this is how Jericho is played, as you progress through the game you will find yourselves thrust into different timelines, examples being a World War II era, Roman era and Sumerian era to name a few. Each time this happens, the enemies you face change and as such keep the game alive and very fresh. So just as you start to get used to the enemies on a certain timeline – boom, all change – and you are facing new enemies. In line with moving back through time your surroundings will keep changing always carrying a Barker trade mark dark and atmospheric feel. This game attempts to make your skin tingle at any given opportunity and the level designs are summed up as beautiful and the amount of detail I found was amazing… The best timeline in my opinion was contained within the Roman Era and seeing these Roman ruins now splattered in blood and guts looked amazing. Coupled with music scores set to make your heart leap and the fact that some freak of nature was quite likely to jump out of the darkness at you at any given second makes Clive Barker’s Jericho a very neatly and perfectly executed survival horror game. This is a game that demands you play at night with the lights off and the sound turned up. A NOTE TO THE WISE – This game of course is 18+ rated, for a good reason with the genre of the game, but another reason this carries the 18+ is in the detail of the voice work. To say there is some swearing is to be mild – There is a LOT! The characters become foul mouthed little beasties when the action gets hot – so for the gaming fans with kids, pack them off to bed before you play this. For me Jericho has been one of those games that left me grinning from ear to ear, I loved it… but even with a game I loved I did quite naturally see a couple of problems with the game. Firstly the achievements for the game pretty much theme on getting through each level on the hardest difficulty and while before I had the game left me gulping and thinking “eeep” playing the game has proved what I thought would be hard – not to be. In a nutshell and cutting through my waffle, hard is not hard… it is pretty much like most games normal setting, so in essence will not cause you any pain. Sure you will die, but because you have the ability to body hop, by playing smartly – death will come occasionally and usually only at the parts you are on your own with a singular character. My second problem and one not unique to this 360 title either, is that the game can be beaten in under ten hours and given that this game does not offer any Xbox LIVE multiplayer support, ten hours to clock a single player game, playing on hard… is a bit crap. Although I will go as far to say that there is “certain” replay value here as there are other in game achievements based on kill types. Examples of these including; melee and headshots to name a couple and unless you are the God of gaming you will most like end up finishing Jericho being no where near some of the set target figures. So for those 100% “I must complete this game” gamers, you are left to jump right back in replaying certain levels where body counts are easy to rack up. My final grunt and groan and won’t put any details in here – but I was very disappointed in the ending and just hope a sequel is due to answer what could only be described as a blank expression on my face (you will just have to see what I mean by playing it). In closing out Jericho has blown me away… I have loved the time I have spent playing it and pretty much could not leave it alone until I had finished it. Sure, the ending annoyed me, but hey ho I am nitpicking on a game that was great fun to play and at the time of writing a game I am now in the middle of replaying. You might want to consider this as a rental rather than a purchase – but without any doubt, my recommendation is that you need to play this game! Score: 8/10 Hannelore Buczynski Thanks a bunch for this awesome information. Please keep up the fantastic work. I’ll be coming back lots.