Game Over Online ~ Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1

GameOver Game Reviews - Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1 (c) Telltale Games, Reviewed by - Steven Carter

Game & Publisher Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1 (c) Telltale Games
System Requirements Windows XP/Vista/7, 2.0 GHz processor, 3 GB RAM, 512 MB DirectX 9 compatible video card, 800 MB HDD
Overall Rating 68%
Date Published Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 08:25 PM

Divider Left By: Steven Carter Divider Right

Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1: "We Negotiate with Terrorists" is a really long title, and it's also the latest episodic adventure from Telltale Games. In it, you play a "flawed, misanthropic, violent, drunken, callous, vulgar" (and more!) detective named Hector, and after several police negotiators are killed at the site of a hostage crisis, you're called in as a last resort -- or perhaps in the hope that you'll meet the same fate. In other words, not only is Hector: Episode 1 about as serious as the other Telltale games, it's also ruder and cruder.

You can tell Hector: Episode 1 is different right away because the first puzzle requires you to find Hector's pants. After that you have to use things like personal lubricant, a dead heroin addict, and a condom as you meet the unusual demands of the "terrorist" (or "turd nugget," depending on who you ask) who is holding the hostages in an abandoned building. I'm all for games jumping outside the box and losing some PCness, so the content didn't bother me any, but with all of the above plus sex shops, prostitutes, and people hoping to become sex offenders, obviously Hector: Episode 1 isn't intended as family fare.

Hector: Episode 1 is played using a third-person perspective, but sort of oddly. You left click to move Hector around and examine objects, but then you have to double left click to take actions with objects (such as picking things up and talking to people). I have no idea why Straandlooper Animation, the developer behind the game, decided to ignore right clicks, but it makes a lot of the actions sort of awkward, and it's sometimes difficult to tell whether you're left clicking or double left clicking.

The puzzles are also less than ideal. They're all inventory-based, where you have to pick up things and then figure out where to use them, but there aren't a lot of objects to find or places to use them -- which seems to be a common trend in adventure games any more -- and so it's not too difficult to figure out what to do next. Sadly, even with the straightforward puzzles and a short playing time (I finished the episode in under four hours), there were several bits of sloppiness and instances where Hector suddenly knew things that he shouldn't. For example, one of the terrorist's demands is that you fix the local clock tower, but before you even know how it's broken you're able to complete a puzzle to acquire a new minute hand for it.

Hector: Episode 1 also has some other problems. For some reason the opening and closing cinematic sequences don't have subtitles (while the rest of the game does), conversations often meander around and don't lead to anything (which makes me to think that they're just padding to make the game last even as long as it does), and the graphics are fairly minimalist, without a lot in the way of detail or sophistication. After playing the episode, I was surprised to see that it's being sold for $10. In my view it's not worth anything close to that amount.

And so, obviously, I wouldn't recommend Hector: Episode 1. It's short and it's sloppy, and other than its tone, it doesn't have a whole lot going for it. It's also the first offering from Telltale Games that I didn't really like. The second and third episodes of the Hector season aren't coming out for a few months, so possibly Straandlooper could figure a few things out and create something worthwhile, but I'm not optimistic, and I'd give this new franchise a pass.

[26/40] Gameplay
[11/15] Graphics
[12/15] Sound
[06/10] Interface
[07/10] Writing
[06/10] Technical


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