Monday, 15 August 2011

Fahrenheit: A Quick retrospective . . .

Fahrenheit (2005: PS2, XBOX, PC)

Many of you might remember Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in North America). On the other hand, a lot of you might have never come across it at all (or even heard of it). I count myself lucky enough to have experienced this truly cinematic and immersive game. In my most humble opinion, it is definitely one of those games that deserved a sequel (or even prequel). Saying that, Fahrenheit wasn't without it's faults. But those faults can be forgiven to a certain degree seeing as majority of the game was spectacular, the dialogue was well thought out and the action as well as suspense had me at the edge of my seat. Funnily enough, I actually purchased the PS2 version of Fahrenheit and played it on my " Phat " backward compatible 60 gb PS3 (now sadly deceased due to a drive failure).

Fahrenheit was developed by Quantic Dream (makers of the excellent 'Heavy Rain') and was released in September 2005 (PC, XBOX, and PS2). It was manufactured and marketed by Atari Europe and has sold 700,000 copies worldwide till date.  I vividly remember walking into various game stores, stopping and staring at the box art and not really not having the will to make any further inquiries about the game. I think the blood soaked dagger and open palms intrigued me initially. In fact I remember on one occasion, I picked the DVD case up and read the game synopsis at the back cover and thought " Most likely another boring game trying too hard . . a definite time waster " . . . . Don't worry, I ate those words eventually.

Fahrenheit revolves around Lucas Kane, and the predicament he finds himself in, when he strangely falls into a trance and murders a man in the restroom of an East Side diner in New York. The unexplained event puts Lucas in a cat and mouse game with the police, and he constantly has to stay ahead and think on his feet to stay alive. Other unexplained events and  murders occur, and Lucas plagued with these strange visions is determined to find out what exactly is going on. Two other integral characters to the story are Inspector Carla Valenti and agent Tyler Miles (both of which you control at some point in the game).

What made Fahrenheit such an unforgettable experience is the overall atmosphere the game was able to maintain, while allowing the player create a connection with the main characters  with such ease. You don't ask to be sucked in, but it's almost guaranteed you will be. Not only is your attention on a constant lock down, you are kept guessing and wondering what could happen next. The story and character development were also noteworthy. It was and still is a true interactive cinematic experience. There was an overall gloom to the atmosphere, rather cold, chilling and somewhat downbeat and even the soundtracks reflected that. I enjoyed the game soundtrack that much, I had to download (via amazon MP3 I might add) Martina Topley Birds " Sandpaper Kisses " and Patrice Rushens " Hang it up ".  Ok . . . the track " Hang it up " is an upbeat departure from the rest of the games soundtracks, but that is an exception, which I might add was suitable for the portion of the game it accompanied. I choose not to delve any further into the games plot (I'm assuming some of you might have no played it yet), but I must mention that it was a joy controlling Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles. I was pleasantly surprised that their portions of the game weren't just shoved in for good measure. They actually contributed significantly to the games progression. Each of these differing perspectives converge at one point. Even when the main character (Lucas) was unavailable, I found that the game just as enjoyable and intriguing. There was still a sense of purpose. A bit of role play there as well (not the bedroom type). Each of these main characters had their varying personalities that made them distinguishable
, and I think that is what made things rather interesting. Even the dialogue between characters in the game wasn't there for filler purposes. Every single sentence uttered by any of the characters in the game was significant. You couldn't possibly miss it. There are other characters in the game I have chosen not to mention. I will leave that to your curiosity.

Notable gameplay mechanics include the use of a mood meter, QTE's (Quick Timer Events),  basic decision making options (wrong decisions could land you a quick game over), basic decision making options via conversations e.t.c. These are but a few. The decision making options in the game could have been an attempt to avoid an overly linear experience. Furthermore, these basic decisions had to be implemented because they complemented the overall structure and progression of the game. Giving far too many options could have potentially diluted the story and immersion the developers were aiming for. On the other hand, it could have also made for a much deeper and accomplished game if implemented properly. The rooftop fight, basketball scene, police chase, Lucas's flat (a particular incident comes to mind), sparring scene e.t.c. are only few of the memorable experiences . . . 

Even with all the praise bestowed upon this game, it isn't without its faults. I think the main problem I had with Fahrenheit was the rather nonsensical and disappointing ending. It was weak and definitely left a sour taste in my mouth. I guess the disappointment came from having to accept such a poorly thought out ending after such an exhilarating roller coaster ride. It was obviously rushed (budget or time ?) and quite frankly, it is the only bad thing I can say about this game. Those of you who have played it might be able to relate to this, but for those of you who haven't, dont give up just yet. I was left wanting, but there is forgiveness in me.

I would like to use this as an opportunity to congratulate Quantic Dream. They almost gave birth to a masterpiece, and the negative points mentioned should not put any one off the game. Anyone remotely interested in story driven experiences NEEDS to play Fahrenheit. It is something I am confident you wont regret. If you don't have your last generation consoles any longer, you can always pick it up quite cheap on PC. Fahrenheit is an example of a game we don't experience too often in the present generation of consoles, and it is definitely among the forgotten genres/games. I hope maybe one day Quantic Dream could make a sequel ? or even do a remake with a much better ending ? Or, Just what if Fahrenheit was treated to a HD remake with PlayStation Move support, and was bundled on a Blu-ray disk with heavy rain ? That would be a dream come true . . . But a part of me thinks all this merely wishful thinking . . . .

Your thoughts ?
Many thanks
Shadow Master

Lucas Kane

Tyler Miles
Carla Valenti

Before I forget, the Fahrenheit Trailer :) Enjoy . . . .


  1. Indigo Prophecy (as we knew it Stateside) was a very good game, but I wouldn't classify it a masterpiece. The gameplay was a little bland if not unvaried, and once the awe of playing a true interactive movie wore off, it felt more like your standard open-ended game with puzzle sequences. My biggest problem with the game's writing were the subtle stereotypes built into Tyler and Carla, beyond the ending, as you mentioned.

    But thanks for the trip down memory lane. I wouldn't mind playing a sequel or an HD remake.

  2. Hello Jay, and many thanks for your comment. I will have to agree with you on the subtle stereotypes built into Carla and Tyler, however are you referring to the portrayal of their everyday lifestyles in the games writing ?

    I will also to some extent agree with you on the potential lack of variety and blandness with regards to the overall gameplay elements. In fact it seemed as though there was an underlying monotone that prevented any gaming climaxes. Because the game was a sort of interactive movie, I think more attention was allocated to the story and character development, rather than memorable and defining gameplay elements. I can safely say the QTE's were the height of the gameplay mechanics.

    All in all, it is always good to look back at games likes Fahrenheit and appreciate what they were able to accomplish at the time. I sincerely think Quantic Dream need to remake Fahrenheit with additional gameplay elements, Move/kinect support, a revised story with a much better ending e.t.c. Just imagine if the remake was done with the heavy rain engine . . that would really be something . . .

    once again, thanks for your contribution, and you can subscribe to my blog :) there are many more games on the way :p

  3. I look forward to your future commentaries!

    As for the stereotypes - admittedly I haven't played the game in about six years so my memory is a little rough. I just found the overall portrayal of those two characters to have some stereotyping. The latina is fiery. The black guy has to play a round of office basketball. It wasn't a big deal, or even a negative really, just something that sticks out to me long after I beat the game. That and the monotone dialog in some parts :-)

    I will say though - the lessons they learned here translated brilliantly to Heavy Rain. I agree with your assessment.

  4. I am actually in the process of selecting what game to look at next. There are quite a few options, but rest assured, the next review will be much more in-depth than the Fahrenheit Review (well, I wouldn't really call it a review, but more of a commentary and retrospective assessment as you have rightly pointed out). The Fahrenheit Retrospective was my first real blog post, so Hopefully things will improve from here onward! By the way, feel free to make suggestions as to what games should be dug out . . There is a huge list (a few surprises as well).

    " I just found the overall portrayal of those two characters to have some stereotyping. The latina is fiery. The black guy has to play a round of office basketball. "

    Very interesting observation. I suspected that was what you were referring to when you spoke of the subtle stereotypes. It definitely wasn't a negative, but it does make you wonder the impact on the overall game had they portrayed them differently.

    " I will say though - the lessons they learned here translated brilliantly to Heavy Rain. I agree with your assessment."

    Absolutely 100%. Heavy rain is more than enough evidence Quantic Dream are positioned to deliver some truly unique gaming experiences in the future. I cannot wait for their next game.

    Many Thanks
    Shadow Master