Gamers Preview: 'Call Of Cthulhu'

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Game Core is a weekly column by CBSNews.com's William Vitka that will be bringing you the latest and greatest in video games.

"Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth" is a first person horror game inspired by New England scaremeister, H.P. Lovecraft. It will be available for the PC and Xbox.

The game, published by Bethesda Softworks, is true to its source, serving up a rich landscape of unnamable things that lurk in the night.

Lovecraft's theme that contact with evil invites insanity even plays a major role.

The game is set in the 1920's, when HP lived and wrote, and the player assumes the identity of Private Investigator Jack Walters. He's a man who has to both confront his own past and uncover an ageless evil threatening the world.

Jack has had his own encounters with the force of darkness, but the fog of amnesia keeps the details out of reach.

All he's sure of is the terrors that plague him at night - visions of strange creatures and enormous alien cities. It's left him a little loopy in the head.

He's obsessed with discovering more about the minions of evil, hoping that it will help to resolve questions about his own identity, end his personal torment and reveal his real role in the Cthulhu Mythos.

One of the many places you and Jack will go in "Call of Cthulhu" is Innsmouth, a locale created by Lovecraft, which is inhabited by Deep Ones - half human, half sea-monstrosity. Innsmouth has a reputation for being a place that people avoid, but now innocent travelers are disappearing even before they get close.

There are rumors of a dark cult and bizarre rituals to timeless rancorous gods who wish to wipe out mankind.

Key Features

  • Diverse array of levels from quaint towns to alien locations, including Deep One City

  • Dynamic Sanity system resulting in hallucinations, panic attacks, vertigo, paranoia, and more!

  • Incredibly detailed real-time graphics with atmospheric lighting and dynamic shadows

  • Intelligent gameplay involving puzzle solving as well as combat and exploration

  • 1920s weaponry and vehicles as well as evil artifacts and alien technology

  • Lovecraft's famous monsters and locations

    Call Of Cthulhu FAQ

    Q. What are the minimum specs for Call Of Cthulhu for PC?

    A. Call Of Cthulhu requires a PC with minimum specifications of P3 500, a 32mb Direct 3D compatible graphics card and 128mb RAM. The game is designed to allow users of lower end machines to thoroughly enjoy the game, while higher end users can take advantage of some of Call Of Cthulhu's advanced features.

    Q. What is the 'Sanity' system?

    A. The 'Sanity' system is a representation of Jack's sanity in the game. This can be unbalanced by what Jack sees, hears and reads as he explores Innsmouth, and can be restored through finding areas of sanctuary or destroying evil creatures. A loss of sanity can be represented in many ways -- such as hearing mysterious voices, hallucinating or suffering visual impairments (double vision and inability to focus).

    Q. What is so special about the health system?

    A. The health system represents accurately the physical state of Jack Walters. The health system is much more advanced than a standard health meter. Jack can suffer injuries that will genuinely affect the gameplay. Break a leg and Jack will limp as he walks, wincing with each footstep. Break an arm and Jack will find it very hard to shoot accurately. Poison will sap Jack's stamina, and bleeding wounds must be tended to before Jack bleeds to death. Even getting wet and staying in a cold area will see Jack shivering from hypothermia. Luckily, there are many 1920s medical devices in the game, each with a real function, and Jack will be able to make use of these to heal most injuries.

    Q. What weapons are in the game?

    A. Call Of Cthulhu features a wide array of weapons, from the basic to the obscure and wonderful. The weapons of the 1920s are faithfully reproduced in Call Of Cthulhu and Jack can use such weapons as the Colt Revolver, the Mauser and the Springfield m1903. In addition to these, there are also more mystical weapons to be found, in deep dark places, but we'll leave these for you to find out about...

    Q. What creatures can be found in Call Of Cthulhu?

    A. Within the game there are a wide variety of creatures and characters -- both hostile and friendly. Creatures range from the mutated Hybrids, grossly misshapen humans, to the sinister Deep Ones. Jack will encounter the mysterious Yithians, fight off hordes of deranged Cultists and work with a squad of brave Marines. Creatures and characters are drawn from the rich Cthulhu Mythos.

    Q. How many levels are in Call Of Cthulhu?

    A. There are 16 levels, each containing many hours of gameplay. The levels range in location from a mysterious house atop a Massachussetts cliff, to the secretive town of Innsmouth, to the horrifying city of the Deep Ones, before finally culminating in a great battle at sea.

    Q. What will make Call Of Cthulhu replayable?

    A. The game features a system whereby players can gain Mythos Points. These reflect a level of knowledge that Jack has gained and are used to access bonuses, such as additional information and items. Players will want to keep playing to keep trying to get all of the Mythos Points, and uncover the full truth of the dark history of Cthulhu.

    Q. What is the Cthulhu Mythos?

    A. The term "Cthulhu Mythos" is used to describe the vast, mysterious world of gruesome creatures, sinister locations, and terrifying ancient civilizations in which numerous pieces of horror fiction are based. Encompassing science fiction, fantasy, and all things macabre, the Cthulhu Mythos is a constantly evolving collection of tales delving into every aspect of fear.

    It originates from the works of H. P. Lovecraft, although many stories have expanded on his concepts greatly to create incredibly diverse scenarios.

    Q. What sets this game apart from its competitors?

    A. Call Of Cthulhu presents the player with an environment so complete that the player can approach the game with their own style of gameplay. The player can adopt the course of gun-blazing action to achieve their goals, or they can utilize stealth and cunning. Call Of Cthulhu also features one of the most advanced graphical engines around, capable of rendering scenes that will draw you into the shadowy world of Innsmouth.

    Q. When will Call Of Cthulhu be available?

    A. It is on schedule for a Q1 2005 release.

    By William Vitka
    (c)MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved
    • William Vitka

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