lost in paradise

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 April, 2008, 12:00am

Unravel mysteries while stranded on an uncharted island in Lost: Via Domus, a video-game adaptation of the popular United States primetime television show. The game was developed and published by France-based Ubisoft Entertainment for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 consoles and Windows-based personal computers.

The action-adventure game casts a player as one of the survivors of Oceanic Airlines flight 815, which crashes on September 22, 2004, on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. In the storyline, a player's character is the previously unseen photojournalist Elliott Maslow, who wakes up in the middle of the jungle with amnesia. Maslow slowly regains his memory during the game by completing quests, correctly identifying clues from flashbacks and interacting with other survivors, including the main characters from the TV series.

Events in the game follow those that took place during the first three seasons of Lost, allowing players to explore the island themselves and dive deeper into the intrigues of the series. As Maslow, a player must solve puzzles, outsmart enemies, battle the 'smoke monster' and overcome other challenges to survive the island. Early in the game, Maslow remembers he took a camera onto the plane. When retrieving it he is attacked by another survivor who wants to destroy certain images taken with it.

Gameplay is fairly simple. Each chapter is treated like an episode from the show, with the Lost logo starting and ending each. There is even a recap of the previous instalment. This feels like a gimmick but it helps make the player feel like they are part of the TV show.

One of the game's most innovative elements is its use of photography during flashbacks: a player sees parts of a torn-up picture then is transported into the early moments of a flashback. Using the 'camera' of Maslow's imagination, they must carefully frame a photograph, focus, zoom in on the action and take a picture that matches the ripped images. The first sequence of the flashback will be repeated until the photograph is captured correctly. Once a player gets the shot, subsequent events in the flashback are unlocked, helping Maslow piece together his memories.

The graphics are fantastic, delivering a lush jungle for players to run through. All the places from the show, from the hatch to the old Spanish galleon, where the survivors find dynamite, to the initial crash site on the beach that appeared in the pilot episode, have been recreated well.

Unfortunately, the 3D models of the characters leave much to be desired; they look like stiff, creepy marionettes with bad skin. On the plus side, they still resemble their TV counterparts. There is also room for improvement in the game's voice work but at least the regular cast members sound as they do in the show.

Lost: Via Domus is fun but the amusement lasts only a few hours. This renders it unworthy of repeat play and, therefore, an expensive buy.

This game is recommended only for die-hard fans of the TV show.

Pros: A great 3D environment and engaging interactive experience help extend the TV show's storyline.

Cons: The game is over too quickly.