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COMPUTING

Y2K the game, appropriately enough, is a dud

January 4, 2000
Web posted at: 2:52 p.m. EST (1952 GMT)

by Barry Brenesal

From...
Games.net
Action Shots

(IDG) -- Buster seemingly has it made. He's a state lottery winner who has also picked up a stately mansion for a song. Unfortunately, the experimental computerized home management system in his new home isn't Y2K-compliant, causing the AI to turn malevolent while Buster is asleep. Your task is to help him explore the place shortly after midnight, and escape the computer's sabotage as he proceeds.

Y2K is a graphical adventure, meaning that your main goal is to gather and apply inventory objects, and solve puzzles. Good products in this genre offer an array of interesting characters, great graphics, and items intended to build mood while they cloak the tale's linearity. These elements obscure the fact that progress from point A to point B isn't a choice of yours, but a requirement of the game.

None of this applies to Y2K, unfortunately. There are no other characters for most of the game. Atmosphere is ignored, as the designers evade devising elaborate descriptions of places and things by having Buster constantly comment, "That won't help with my current puzzle" while you click through the mansion rooms.

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The 3D graphics in Y2K are lamentable. Our hero's image looks and moves like a jerky, stooped-over manikin rather than a human. His feet hover above the floor, swinging monotonously. When he has to leave a straight line, Buster wheels slightly in place, and there's no attempt made to disguise the abysmal animation. The mansion's 3D spaces are filled with 2D images that you can only view from a single angle. When you often expect animated sequences to occur, the visuals simply freeze and the game resorts to voiceovers.

But if the graphics are cutrate, Y2K's inability to disguise its linearity is worse. Take the opening puzzle. Buster can't get clothes from his unresponsive, computer-controlled wardrobe. He's in his underwear and there's only one other person in the house, his close girlfriend. Why, then, does he refuse to leave the room unless he's fully dressed? For no sound logical reason, besides the programmers' desire to have you solve the wardrobe puzzle first.

The puzzles themselves for the most part require little ingenuity but massive doses of transcribing and patience. They are light-years behind Trilobyte's classic 7th Guest. There are no elaborate, attractive, multipart brainteasers that let you take pride in a successful result.

Finally, there is also a sense of unfinished business about Y2K. While some objects call forth a comment from Buster (even if it's just his ad nauseum remark, "I'm not interested in that"), others only produce its painted equivalent on your screen-as though they were added shortly before the game shipped.

The last eighteen months has been a bad period for graphical adventures, with poor sales for its best games: Grim Fandango, King's Quest 8, Monkey Island III and Quest for Glory V. Why anybody would want to do yet another game in this genre, without imagination and on a clearly reduced budget, must remain among the Great Unknowables of our age, right up alongside how socks develop toe holes while inside drawers. You can safely ignore this game without ever feeling like you've missed something more important than an old sock.

Tips:

  • Pick up anything that isn't glued or nailed down.

  • If you can't find any puzzle solution that makes sense, just click around an object that Buster agrees to view. Chances are you'll "solve" it.

  • Play something else.


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