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Blair Witch Experience

Artisan Entertainment, DVD + CD

The Blair Witch Project - Book of Shadows, Blair Witch 2 - The Blair Witch Series

The Blair Witch Experience is a new special limited edition boxed set available from Artisan Entertainment. It combines both of the Blair Witch movies as well as all three of the Blair Witch video games. Release of the boxed set seems to squelch rumors of a Blair Witch III any time in the near future.

The Blair Witch Series

I don't have too much to say about the games. I prefer FPS style games such as Counter-Strike and Quake or strategy based games along the lines of Starcraft and Broodwar. The games in the Blair Witch series are puzzle solving and in third person view without the ability to change camera angle, which is very frustrating. The graphics, for the most part are good. Scenery is very well done and the lighting engine is excellent giving you some very spectacular shadows. However the models leave much to be desired. Even with the graphics set to their highest settings they just aren't up to expectation. They seem pretty much slapped together. It would have been nice to add a few more polygons to have the model detail match the scenery and lighting.

Volume I: Rustin Parr

The first installment of the Blair Witch Project game series has you playing the role of Elspeth 'Doc' Holliday, a member of Spookhouse; a top-secret government agency set up to track and eliminate supernatural and spooky things. You are sent to Burkitsville to investigate the murder of seven children by Rustin Parr, a loner who lives in the forest near town, which is said by local folklore to be haunted by the Blair Witch. Rumors suggest that the Blair Witch possessed Rustin Parr and made him commit the grisly murders. During the course of your investigation you'll explore the town of Burkitsville and the forest beyond including spots made famous in the movie such as Coffin Rock and Rustin Parr's house.

The game play is fair at best. It starts without any real introduction. You don't know who you are playing, why you are there, or what you are supposed to be doing. In fact, after loading the game I really wasn't sure if I was playing the right game. The Blair Witch symbols were present on the menu, the writing was spooky, but nothing else seemed to have anything else to do with the movies. With a few slight modifications this could have been any game rather than the Blair Witch Project. The single biggest tie in to the movies is also perhaps the lamest. When traveling through the woods you encounter many "twanas", the stick figures from the movie. I understand the first movie was devoid of monsters but I don't think getting attacked by a bunch of sticks tied together by twine all that scary.

Getting further into the game I noticed that controlling my character was a little more challenging than it should have been. Although the controls are very similar to those used in the FPS games I normally play it was very difficult to put the character exactly where I wanted them and to attack monsters that I wanted to in the order I wanted without running into something. This would have been less of a problem without the auto-aim feature controlling my gun and without the odd camera angles.

The largest problem with the game lies in its camera angles. Their preset depending where you are on the map. To make matters worse they vary so much you can't get into any sort of real playing rhythm. You often can't really see where you are going or if there is something waiting in front of you. One particularly extreme example of this problem is in the town of Burkitsville itself. In one section just to cross the street you go through more than four separate camera transitions.

Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock

Again centered in Burkitsville, The Legend of Coffin Rock has you taking on the role of Lazarus, a soldier suffering from amnesia due to a head wound. A young girl named Robin Weaver and her grandmother take you into their home and tend to your injuries. When Robin disappears in the woods shortly after your arrival, a search party is formed. Robin's grandmother informs you that the search party is doomed. She is convinced that the townspeople combing the woods for her granddaughter are being led to their deaths by an unearthly force that inhabits the vicinity and believes that you alone can find the girl. As your journey progresses, you gradually begin to remember the terrifying events of your past. Only by unlocking the secrets locked in your mind can you defeat the evil lurking in the woods surrounding Burkitsville.

This second installment is visually much brighter than the first which somewhat takes away the dark and brooding quality I very much appreciated. I do, however, like that each are of the woods is unique in the second volume. You don't have to keep running through the same paths like in Rustin Parr. Another new feature, which I'm still on the fence about as I write this, is the inclusion of "boss" monsters. At several points in the game you will discover a super monster you must defeat in order to continue. They were fun to attack but I'm not sure if they really fit in with the overall feel or purpose of the game.

Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale

The final installment of the Blair Witch Project series finds you once again in the small Maryland town of Burkitsville. This time recounting the events of 1786, when Elly Kedward was accused of witchcraft and banished from the Blair Township. You take on the persona of Jonathan Pyre, a man who renounced his priestly vows to become a witch hunter. Your job is to search out Elly Kedward, a self proclaimed witch, whom the town believes has snatched and killed seven children from the town.

Most of the problems that plagued the two earlier games are still present. Difficulty in movement, odd camera angles, extreme linearity, etc. However, character modles look a little better and quite natural. The developer of The Elly Kedward Tale seems to have taken some cues from the fantasy genre and given you the ability to use magic. It's an interesting twist that does make the game more fun than the first two. Magical energy or Mana, is required to use supernatural items or cast spells that among other things can conjure lightning and bind evil.

The focus also changes from predominantly puzzle based to action based. This of course appealed to me more. Previously mentioned limitations prevent this from being truly fun.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the tangent the story takes right from the beginning. You would at first assume you will be going directly after the Blair Witch. You actually take a journey into Native American folklore via a trip through the spirit and demon planes. An interesting twist that fits well.

Conclusions on the series

Overall I can't whole heartedly recommend the games. I find them too frustratingly slow and difficult to control. However, there are several websites available to help you solve puzzles in the games and following their advice might help get you through with less frustration. The series, even without help, is moderately interesting for it's ties to the movies and worth a play or two considering they are practically free as bundled in The Blair Witch Experience.

For fans of the Blair Witch movies The Blair Witch Experience is an excellent buy. Two movies and three games plus and neat Blair Witch pendant for less than the price of one new release game. However, for the majority of people, it might be a better value to purchase or rent The Blair Witch Project and skip the sequel and games.

The Blair Witch Experience Special Limited Edition Collector's Set includes:

  • The Blair Witch Project DVD
  • Book of Shadows Blair Witch 2 DVD
  • The Blair Witch Series Video Games:
  •    Volume I: Rustin Parr
  •    Volume II: The LEgend of Coffin Rock
  •    Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale
  • A neat Blair Witch pendant on twine necklace

Do you think we got this review totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion in our forums!

Reviewed by: Hauntmaster 5/03/2002

         
 
   

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