Previews

Clive Barker's Jericho

Will Porter reports on yet another disturbance in the Middle East. And this time sending soldiers in seems like a good idea...

There's no I in team. Well, there used to be - but you died. It was really quite sad. You were there one moment, standing in a lost city packed with demons and screaming at the top of your lungs, and then you were dead.

Just another rugged action hero vastly experienced in supernatural warfare popping his cork at the hands of something horrible: Devin Ross, gone but not forgotten. But wait! Much like Patrick Swayze in Ghost, you've come back from the very brink of death!

Although there'll be no clay-sex tomfoolery for you, oh no. In Jericho, it's all about leaping between the minds of your military cohorts, combining their prodigious paranormal powers and turning the poor denizens of Al-Khali into a bloody pulp.

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Al-Khali itself seems OK on the surface - just another everyday Middle-Eastern city really - but its town planners seemingly had even less sense than the fools behind Welwyn Garden City. I mean, they've only gone and bloody built it on the exact spot that every few thousand years pure evil forces itself through a temporal rift and sits upon the face of the earth. Dolts.

CITY OF THE DAMNED
Triggered by blackspots of history - the gluttony of the Roman Empire, the mass-killings of The Crusades and the warfare and genocide enacted by Germany's National Socialist party - every time this terrifying temporal sandstorm whips up around the city, a different version of it has been taken back into the dimension from whence it came, occupants and all.

Left there for aeons, the swallowed-up soldiers have had a lot of time to reconstruct their fleshy bits and brain chemistry, and it's their layers of history you must traverse as your team makes its way to the heart of its evil.

From an Al-Khali bombed and battered by the ravages of WWII, through to the 'Arabian Nights' confines known by the medieval knights you see displayed here and the heady days of Roman occupation, Jericho is as much an adventure in archaeology as it is piles of dead bodies that have achieved consciousness.

The first chaps to open the rift between dimensions through their nastiness, meanwhile, were the Sumerians - who sit at the centre of this bloody maze and who, Wikipedia informs me, 'were brought fully formed to the city of Eridu by their god Enki or by Abgallu the Oannes of Berossus'. What they probably didn't believe was that it's all their fault that The Box, or more specifically 'The Pyxsis' - the undying corrupted dimension inhabited by the source of all evil, got opened in the first place. Bloody Sumerians... Typical.

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BARK AT THE MOON
Jericho is being developed by Mercury Steam, the Spaniards who last brought the 'couldn't be more different if it tried' American McGee's Scrapland to our screens. A quick swap from a goatee-ed ex-Doom developer as muse to a man with a mind of absolute darkness, and they and their self-developed engine are somewhere a little more menacing than a cheery robot land.

The concept of Jericho came from Barker himself, whose dark thinkings were snapped up by Codemasters, who in turn happened to know that the technology Mercury Steam were tinkering with was running deep with blood. Specifically particle-based blood that can gush out of exposed wounds, or dissipate in clouds of red in high-intensity collisions. The engine's speciality in shiny body goo, murky lighting, life-like environment textures and overtly stylised, yet still somewhat real creatures, fit the bill precisely.

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