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Chasing the Russian Reviews
Author: Greg Broulette
Date: 2005

Reviewed by David Whyld (Reviews Exchange 7)

This game kicked up quite a lot of fuss on the ADRIFT forum, both before and after it was released. Before: because the author took the time to release a demo of it, get people's opinions, and then fix all the bugs and errors in readiness for an official release. (This probably has happened a few times before but it's worth mentioning all the same because a newbie actually having the patience to listen to advice is a rare thing indeed. Kudos to him for that.) After: because the author threw a full blown tantrum after several people (including yours truly) pointed out there were still bugs and errors in his game and advised him how best to go about fixing them. Five minutes later, he took the game down off the main ADRIFT site, then from his own site, and disappeared off into the sunset in a sulk. All because people were trying to help…

Oh dear. Just as well he left before reading this review, I guess… 

In all honesty, the game's a long way from a complete stinker. I've certainly played worse ADRIFT games this year. But I've also played a lot better.

You play the part of a secret agent hunting for a Dr Stoyonov, the Russian of the game's title. You're currently undercover working at a travel agency while you close in your prey.

The intro was actually quite amusing and indicated that the author, if he ever returns from wherever he's gone and tries his hand at a comedy, might do well. As for the rest of the game, there were a lot of bugs in it. I didn't really expect it to be bug free (is there such a thing?) but after going through a demo version where people pointed out various errors in it, I thought the finished game might be as close to bug free as it's reasonable to expect. Unfortunately not. While most of the bugs were relatively minor, they were all annoying to one degree or another. The worst offenders seemed to be: 

* Lack of proofreading. Though hardly unreadable, the text was littered with spelling mistakes. Some locations were worse than others; indeed, some didn't seem to have any typos at all. Others were just full of them. Is it Mrs Beazly or Mrs Beazley or Mrs Beasley? The game can't seem to decide. 

* Items not given proper prefixes: "a magazines" popped up in one location, "a ashes" in another. Frequently, items didn't have prefixes at all so you might get told "book of matches is too heavy for you to carry at the moment" and the like. 

* Silly carrying restrictions. See the previous point. I can wander around town with a dozen items, yet trying to pick up a book of matches is too much for me? 

* Too much needless unlocking and opening of doors and gates. Is there any need to make the player type UNLOCK DOOR and then OPEN DOOR? For that matter, if the door or gate isn't locked anyway, why even start it closed in the first place? It's just plain irritating. (Funnily enough, the game lets me open Mrs Beazly/Beazley/Beasley's door even though it's never mentioned in the room description, but even after it's open I'm not able to go through it.) 

* Crucial things needed to complete the game aren't mentioned in the room descriptions. There's a button on a street light that needs to be pressed (secret agents apparently aren't capable of crossing the street without the green man being on) yet the street light isn't referred to in the room description. Another location has a carpet with an item concealed under it, yet where is the carpet? 

* Conversation without speech marks? Never a good idea. 

All in all, Chasing The Russian is an easy enough game to get through. It has a few extras that don't really seem to fit into the general theme of the game (getting some cookies from the woman with the ever name surname and buying some food in a shop), but they don't knock the game down any. A few liberal typings of HINT from time to time and you get through the worst of the game's hassles. And, perhaps best of all, you even get awarded at the end of the game for things you haven't even done. The game awarded me extra bonus points for locking a door (which I hadn't done) and putting the ladder back in the garage (which I also hadn't even. As it happened, I hadn't even found the ladder or been in the garage).

The actual game is some 35 KB in size (a fairly large effort for a newbie), but comes with 7,000+ KB of sound effects included. 7,000+? Yep. That's right. Are they, then, mind-blowing sound effects? The sort of thing that keep you on the edge of your seat? Er… not quite. A few outdoor locations had sound effects that were basically the kind of sounds you might expect to hear if you were walking down the street. Yes, as exciting as that. And every bit as distracting. After a couple of locations of listening to every day sounds while I was trying to concentrate, I found the distraction level to be too high and promptly turned them off. 

So all in all, not a truly terrible game but without much going for it either. If all the bugs are fixed, this might be a fairly decent game but it's hard to recommend it to anyone as it currently stands.

3 out of 10

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