Was I the only one that thought the Lost island was inhabited by dinosaurs? When those giant trees came crashing down as a beast of some sort ripped through them there was only one logical answer: a rampaging T-Rex was about to eat Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke and Hurley (or at least try) for dinner. This of course was left unanswered for weeks and although now all cleared up, I still hope to see a little T-Rex arm before the series is over for good. Perhaps the game will grant me such a wish, or is its Adventure game mechanic a little too prehistoric for next-gen gamers?
Although the game plays like any modern third-person game, it's very much an adventure in the old-fashioned sense. You walk into things and on-screen messages pop up asking you if you want to inspect the item or pick it up, you get into scripted conversations with survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 and navigate the jungle in a fairly linear way. It might look modern but it might as well be a point and click adventure - not that such a game would be bad.
You play as a survivor of Oceanic Flight 815, the plane that crashed over a mysterious island that somehow managed to spare the lives of many people onboard. You don't play as one of the main characters from the TV show, but instead a man who's suffering from temporary amnesia. All the familiar faces from the first few seasons are there (Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, Sayid, Hurley, Desmond, Charlie, Claire, etc), as are the others, but you simply interact with them, with different characters helping you out as you try to figure out who you are and find a way to get off the island.
If you remember adventure games before the likes of Drake's Fortune became the norm for the genre, you'll know what to expect, although Lost holds your hand more than you might like. By talking to characters you're almost guaranteed to figure out what to do and where to go, and the game's log book always lists what your task is. There's some basic trading with other characters, essential to get certain items you'll need to complete tasks (swapping torches and guns for food, water or anything else you happen to find), but in general interacting with others isn't the game's highlight.
A key component of Lost the show is the flashbacks. They're in the game too, with your character suddenly having a daydream and seeing an important event from the past. In these scenes you have to take a photo of a significant moment and then find clues in the small area in which the memory takes place. While nice enough, these moments aren't really in keeping with flashbacks from the TV show and stick out as something the developers have forced into a gameplay situation. Using your camera while wandering around the island is also fairly neat and successful snaps (the game tells you what to photograph) unlock extra items to view outside of the game.
Puzzles crop up fairly regularly, with an electrical circuit puzzle being a firm favourite of the design team. Using fuses (which seem to be scattered about all over the place) you need to route electric to reach a meter at a certain voltage. Mensa members will no doubt laugh at how easy these are, but for a video game they're pretty challenging. At other times you'll need to use and interact with items familiar to Lost fans (entering the numbers and more), but there's never a sense that you've actually worked something out - the game, or should I say the island, gifts you everything.
As a game Lost is simple and certainly won't be of much interest to newcomers to the TV show, so the decision to make the story non-essential for fans is a little odd. The payoff is good, with the conclusion being worth the brief time it'll take you to complete the game, but there's so much fans wanted that isn't included. Certain high profile characters are more or less glossed over, significant moments from the series come and go with characters making nothing more than passing comments and the sense of danger, prevalent throughout the series, is almost non-existent until late in the game.
Other than the times you're walking through dark caves, the odd few moments when people are shooting you from atop trees and when you have to hide in bushes from the black smoke, there's not much to worry about. I know it's a video game, but everything feels far too much like a movie set, with the island, characters and key objects simply being there for effect.
At first glance the island and characters are just what you'd expect from a next-gen game, with some of the scenes being particularly beautiful, but it's not long before the illusion of a TV show comes crashing down. The most unfortunate aspect is that most of the cast from the show don't voice the characters in the game. Although the character models are pretty good, when a voice you aren't expecting comes out it ruins the illusion completely. Add to that some of the most lifeless faces I've seen in a next-gen game (it seems that only their eyes and mouths move) and you well and truly know you're playing a game.
The musical score can't be criticised though, with the show's signature sound being reproduced superbly. The game is even structured into episodes, so you get a little set-up scene, followed by the white text on black logo, then the episode ending with that classic Lost cliff-hanger noise that closes off every show. The start of the next chapter even gives you a "Previously on Lost" rundown, adding to the whole feeling of the game being a TV show. What doesn't add to this, though, is the awkward looking acting, a not really TV-quality script and some odd roughness in the visuals and audio (in one scene Hurley's voice has the sound of the sea in the background, but the others around him are talking with no background noise).
It sounds like a copout but Lost really is only for fans. Despite the fairly clunky gameplay mechanics, the so-so acting and the new character, you're still wandering around an island that you've spent hours watching on TV, doing things that you've seen characters do, which makes up for many of these problems. Although far from ugly, more polished visuals would have helped no end, and the lack of the full voice cast can't be overstated. If you want to visit the Lost island (and earn a load of Achievement points very easily if you're playing on Xbox 360), and don't mind having your hand held throughout, give Lost a look. Just don't expect a new super TV show/video game hybrid genre.