By James Archuleta |
For those of you who feel that the cute, bouncing animals and half-baked storylines of today's gaming world are an insult to your intelligence, then I've got just the game for you. In fact, if you are the type of person who spends his free time hacking the security system at the State Department, then Syn-Factor may be right up your alley.
Syn-Factor is a deep space first-person whodunnit in the mold of Myst or Buried in Time, where you are a ship's techie saddled with the task of uncovering an intergalactic mystery and aided only by a computer chip implanted in your brain. From the start aboard the suddenly abandoned I.S.T. Rident to the explosive conclusion, the game asks you to use found objects, people you meet, and your own wits to make your way through space. Sounds exciting, huh? Maybe if you're Stephen Hawking...
As if to prove itself a thinking-man's game, Syn-Factor is almost entirely made up of intellectual solutions to its problems, featuring such white-knuckled action sequences as hacking thermostatic computers; inputting proper coordinates to create spacial wormholes for intergalactic travel; overmagnetizing your credit computer to gain extra conduits; reading through old logs, Coleridge poems, and computer core-dumped muck for passwords; rerouting elevator source power... and more! This game should have a special online multiplayer battle zone reserved for computer programmers, English professors, and electricians. In fact, many of the solutions are so obscure that you are forced to resort to the old "pass the mouse over every part of the screen and hope something lights up" style of play. Thankfully, there is an included hint feature and your trusty Syn-implant helps you out along the way.
Syn-Factor is a pretty-good-looking game, and the atmosphere and music create the appropriate sense of foreboding. The controls are smooth, simple, and intuitive, and the storyline keeps you interested in reaching a conclusion. Unfortunately, the payoff is never as heavy as the suspense and definitely not worth the amount of time spent figuring out the solutions.
While Syn-Factor has its heart in the right place - there are definitely too many games featuring reflex action and violence and not enough involving using your brains - it may have pushed the envelope on just how many complex mathematical solutions we want to come up with before we get to bash someone in the head with a pipe. While I'm as much of a computer geek as the next guy, I don't need a game to challenge my computer expertise. If I want to fiddle around with a computer... I'll just fiddle around on my own.