Jericho is very much Barker's story, and it packs some genuinely interesting characters on top of its rather slight initial premise. The question is whether the script and the back-story will fill things out and tie the game together. Based on Barker's hands-on input, we'd certainly hope so. However the very cinematic, narrative approach has bought a couple of negative issues into play. First, the levels we've played so far seem quite linear. This never hurt Call of Duty 2 or Gears of War - both games where the action is carefully orchestrated throughout - but it might frustrate those looking to use the team's powers in unusual or unpredictable ways. More seriously, the preview code includes some heavy-handed Quicktime Event sequences. At the moment, they're too fast, too long and far too annoying, and prove an unwelcome and irritating interruption to the action.
Still, for the moment it's too early to judge how such things might affect the game as a whole. Codemasters has warned us that the difficulty level is undergoing a lot of tuning, which is good as it's currently quite harsh, and the AI is undergoing similar work. These are areas that may make or break the game on its release. Jericho's biggest challenge is that it's launching after the sublime The Darkness and the hugely anticipated Bioshock, and into the most hotly contested autumn for FPS games in years. It's a strong prospect with a very different atmosphere and some very interesting game mechanics, and it just remains to be seen how well Barker and Mercury Steam can maintain and build momentum across the length of the game. Can they freak you out and raise the tension as well as they can clearly gross you out? For now, Jericho is a game with buckets of blood, but also buckets of potential.