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Prepare To Get Lost

LostNot Penny's boat, you say?  Interesting.  Oh, hi; didn't hear you come in there.  Don't mind me.  I'm just getting caught up on my Lost lore before the abbreviated fourth season begins later this month in North America.  In an incredible coincidence of synergistic planning it looks like that long-promised Lost video game is about to hit stores for the PC, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Sony PlayStation 3 just in time to enjoy the Lost media blitz.  MTV's Stephen Totilo recently met with Ubisoft's Kevin Shortt to explore Lost: Via Domus and came away with plenty of details.

The game is set up in seven “episodes,” each set primarily on the island but interspersed with playable flash-back scenes (hopefully none of them involving Jack’s tattoos). The Lost logo and music kick in a few minutes into the beginning of each episode. And a re-cap starts all episodes after the first. The opening level Shortt showed me began on the plane just before the crash. The player’s character sees show regular Charlie run by to the bathroom. And then from a perspective show watchers haven’t seen before, the plane breaks apart. You see it from the point of view of your guy looking forward from the middle of the plane, witnessing the front section break away. Then your guy is waking up in the jungle, seeing visions, and soon enough Kate is there saying she just saw a dog run by.

The gameplay I was shown involved dialogue trees, running around and doing mini-games, basically a lot of puzzle-style interaction. The Kate encounter, for example, required specific dialogue choices, which led to a flashback, which put me in a photo-taking first-person sequence back on the Flight 815 before the plane took off. The game is rendered in the “
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2” graphics engine, but the gameplay looked like it was toned to an audience less hardcore than the “GRAW” market. Said Shortt: “We wanted this to be an action-adventure game that’s geared for the casual market.” The actors for the characters Tom, Ben, Julie, Sun, Desmond, and Claire all did voice work for the game. The rest of the major characters are voiced by stand-ins.

Well, my interest is piqued, but I do have some concerns.  The use of soundalikes for some of the major cast troubles me.  I still cringe when I hear Jeri Ryan's stand-in providing the voice for Seven of Nine in the Star Trek: Voyager shooter Elite Force (an expansion fact corrected that eventually, but some scars never heal).  Will the Lost experience hold up if Jack isn't really Jack or Locke doesn't sound quite Lockey enough?  Then there's the idea that the game is geared for the casual player and is projected to only have about ten hours of gameplay in it.  Is it wise to aim a game about a hardcore show for hardcore consoles to the casual market?  Perhaps it would have been smarter to develop a full-on Dharma-to-the-wall adventure for this particular audience.  At the moment it sounds like Lost: Via Domus might be better off as a rental.  We'll find out for sure next month.