I bagged this one in Transylvania
Haven't you always wanted to be one of those zombie killer guys from the movies? You get the six-shooters, the cool weapons, and the girl (eventually). In Nocturne, you're able to do just that. Despite breathtakingly beautiful graphics and good sound, mediocre controls and odd glitches create a game that is, at best, average.
After our dear president Teddy Roosevelt kills a werewolf in Cuba (lets see them try to make a stuffed animal out of that!), he realizes the danger the supernatural could have on national security. He creates a nameless special organization, nicknamed "Spookhouse", whose job it is to quickly attend to any weird goings-on around the country. You play the Stranger, a mysterious person, rumored to be the "chosen one" in the field of monster-killery, who has become one of the chief operatives of Spookhouse.
Your compatriots are the most motley crew of people you could ever meet: There's Hiram, who is a paranoid psychic, Haystack, a boxer whose matches were fixed by the "supernatural underworld", Svetlana, a vampire-human hybrid, Scat Dazzle, who spontaneously channels a voodoo loa (read "god"), and Moloch, a demon who was thrown out of hell and swore vengeance on his kind.
With the right hardware (forget those minimum requirements) the graphics in this game are nothing short of astounding. They consist of two-dimensional backdrops behind 3D characters. They use something called "volumetric lighting" (yup, a new buzzword), which allows you to cast realistic shadows. It's hard to describe what effect this has on the game, but it works magic. For example, you're in the middle of a small country town, with only a single lamppost. As you walk near it, you see a shadow pass over the ground in front of you. Combined with the pixel-perfect detail of the backgrounds, it creates a very realistic feel to your surroundings, making it that much more frightening.
Beyond that, there are even more impressive lighting effects. Let's say you take your guns with the laser sights (in the 1930's??), and point them straight at the camera (Ahh! Don't shoot!). It actually looks like a laser should. I could go on about the graphics for a long time (look at the way your coat waves in the wind! Look at how the blood spatters on the ground!), but I'm going to have to stop sometime.
The sound in the game is pretty good. The voices of the characters are well spoken and convincing. The background noise is very well done, ranging from wind rustling through the leaves of a forest to the clack-clack of a train riding on the rails. Your weapons sound pretty good. They should have worked harder on the music cues, since the score often goes on for a minute even after you've killed whatever baddie you were fighting.
If you've ever played Resident Evil, you'll recognize the control scheme immediately. The controls are particularly touchy in Nocturne though. When you try to turn left and right on the keyboard, you often end up going farther than you wanted. When you turn a little, your body doesn't move; only your head moves. This is more realistic, but it makes it much harder to figure out which way your guy is facing.
Aiming is also a problem. In most of the games that have the Resident Evil controls, your enemies are slow and lumbering, giving you at least a split second to face the right way. But here, with all of the werewolves and big flying things which move faster than, well, something that goes fast, you have almost no time to react. This is aggravated due to some awkward camera angles that don't allow you to see which way you're facing. Thus, the frequent battles can become more of a burden than the fun-fun-fun they should be.
There are lots of small glitches and oddities that, although they don't make the game unplayable, make you feel that the game isn't real (Yes, I know it isn't real, but they should try). There's often a lot of confusion about where you can and can't walk. The forest is a prime example. Sometimes you see what looks just like a path, but you can't walk down it. Other times, the exit is hidden amongst the trees, and takes a good deal of searching before it reveals itself.
Another problem is interacting with the objects around you. To climb down ladders and to open boxes, you have to be facing in exactly the right direction which, as I said, is difficult. Not only that, but sometimes when you are trying to open a box, instead you stand right on top of it! It's sort of odd to see a grown man standing on a tool chest. You can sometimes still interact with the box when you're standing on top. This was particularly odd with a box of explosives I found; I ended up hovering in midair, with a box of dynamite in my hands.
And how about this? When going down some of the ladders on the train, you get off the ladder, then turn right around with your feet hanging off the edge of the moving train. Although you're always safe, you could end up with a heart attack from the Stranger's suicidal tendencies. Just like the graphics, I could go on talking about these glitches for a long time, but I'll stop here for brevity's sake.
With all the cool things to look at and neat things to hear, it's a real pity that the rest of the game doesn't live up to the same quality. I think everyone should experience the graphics at least once, but I don't think this particular Spookhouse is worth the price of admission.