Platforms: Xbox 360 reviewed, PS3 and PC versions available
Oh dear. On the one hand, Lost: The Video Game isn't anywhere near as bad as it might have been. On the other, most of what worried me when I previewed the game back in January has appeared, plus a little bit more besides. This is a graphic adventure game that captures some of the magic and mystery of the TV show, but one that does so despite the gameplay rather than because of it.
As you might remember if you read the preview, the game focuses on a new character - an amnesiac photo-journalist - who slots into the action during seasons one and two of the series. As the game progresses, our hero discovers his name (Elliott) and then his history through a number of interactive flashbacks. In the meantime, he's occupied by his own present-day quest to escape the island, getting help from the likes of Jack, Kate, Hurley and Locke while having dangerous encounters with the black smoke and those nasty Others. It's all been ingeniously put together so that Elliott can interact with cast regulars and explore such important Lost locations as the Swan Hatch, the caves, The Black Rock and the Hydra station, yet without interfering with the flow of the Lost narrative as we know it. Lost: The Video Game ties into the series enough to feel a part of it but never does anything to disrupt it. I suspect this took quite a lot of work.
And making you feel part of the series is one of the game's biggest strengths. Lost: The Video Game reminds me of the game of 24 that came out a couple of years ago, in that it employs all the titles, traits and stylistic tics of the series to make each of the game's seven chapters seem like a mini episode of the programme. Ubisoft has done this perfectly, kicking off each potion with a ‘Previously' recap, hitting you with the Lost title after a surprise or shock, then fading out with the end title and that unforgettable dissonant brass slide after the obligatory cliff-hanger. In fact, the music all round is superbly used, probably doing more than any other element to convince you that the game is part of the experience of the show.
What's more, Lost: The Video Game makes the most of the show's exotic setting. Neither the jungle environments nor the character animation is going to rival Uncharted for visual splendour, but Lost generally looks as slick and cinematic as you would hope for a game based on such a huge TV show. Admittedly, things go a little awry with those well known characters. While the models are convincing from a still image, the animation is a bit wooden, the eyes are glassy and the faces can be worryingly devoid of expression. If this were the game of, say, Primeval, this wouldn't be a problem but - come on guys - this is the game of Lost! And couldn't Ubisoft have stumped up enough cash to get in every key member of the original cast? The voices for Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Locke are reasonably convincing, but Charlie is borderline awful and there's still the odd moment where things don't quite gel.