When I first got my hands on Sphinx, it had 'not my type of game' written all over it. Well all I can say is I'm pleasantly shocked, I spent three days solid on this game. I even got around to completing it, which is rare when reviewing a game. This by no means makes this game short. In fact over three days spent and thirty hours plus of playing, and I still didn't manage to get a 100% completion. I'm now holding of starting the game again, for fear my girlfriend will move two-hundred miles away back to her mothers.
So other than being highly addictive what does Sphinx has in stall for the unsuspecting player. Well being a new licensed property for THQ, this would have been a risk, and it could be a dire flop, or as I see it a phenomenal success. Some corners have been cut I can only presume to save on costs just in case the game is a flop, however these corners do not at all effect the hours of fun and enjoyment you will get from playing this game. The cut corners I'll mention later, along with other aspects which I hope they will put in to a sequel.
Once in to the main plot, you have control of the two main character Sphinx and the Mummy (the soon to be King Tut). Swapping control at key points in the game, the mummy is indestructible and clumsy, and the sneaky puzzle solving character. While Sphinx, is the combat oriented adventurer. Both characters have their own storyline and plot, which intertwines to eventually save the world.
Sphinx, takes many styles and ideas found in other games and combines them seamlessly in to one fun and enjoyable game. The third person, puzzle solving and combat, combined with elements of adventure games and sub-quests all fit nicely in to this package.
The whole Egyptian theme has never been uses so well, the story and plot are woven wonderfully. So wonderfully it could be the story for a major movie. Though not 100% serious the comic twists are fresh and fun, and don't make you groan. My favourite character the mummy has some wonderfully funny moments in the cut scenes.
On many occasions I kept saying to myself I must put this controller own and do some other work, but this never happened. As soon as I reached a save point I wanted to get the feel for what is next, and the feel turned in to another hour and another hour, until I completed the game.
The four main areas each have their own style and feel to them; from the monsters you will find in each and the themes of the level. Each has been built and put together with thought and imagination, someone must have spent hours just filling in little parts of the map with interesting things and fun stuff.
The only way to describe how this game plays is smooth; there are very few glitches in the game. However some task and aspects of the game are a little to exacting, such as jumps can require pixel perfect timing, though those moments are very few and far between.
Once you are used to the controls and where things are you will be running and jumping and clambering over all areas of the game. One of the great feature is some of the equipment you pick up during game play can be assigned to different buttons as you play, so you can put your shield and blowpipe under the button best suited to you.
The Transition between the play modes of the two different characters can be a little jarring, as they both play and act slightly differently and have different moves, this took me a few minutes to re adjust, but nothing to complain about it is only to be expected that I'm not as fast as an X-box.
Possibly some of the most stunning and Iconic graphics I have seen in a while, every level is expansive and you can pretty much see the whole of it from some points. There is no obvious popup of distant graphics, much of the detail fades in or at least is not noticeable when you're playing the game.
The character design is some of the best I have seen in recent years, each character model has a unique and different look, everyone you meet will look different, the only things which are the same is the monsters, which again are excellently done.
The rich detailed levels and superb characters blend well and really work well together to give the game a really good and enjoyable feel. Some areas on maps are so expansive, that you can look over the edge in to the bottomless void, and after a few seconds your eyes adjust and you can actually see the floor way of in the distance.
The graphics engine in this game is almost perfect during all my time playing it, I never once saw a graphics glitch a see through object or even something partly stuck through a wall. The engine also shows you don't need expensive CGI for a game to be enjoyable; all the cut scenes are made using the game engine and really would have looked worse if they were rendered before hand.
The in game sounds and expressions, are all spot on, they gave the game playa good feel, and added in the Mummy's case a lot of humour to the characters. However and this is where the corners were cut, Their's no voice acting in the entire game, all the cut scenes are text based, this however dose not detract from the plot. I can only think they did not want to spend to much money on a project that could fail, which is fair enough as what they have done will not impact on your enjoyment of Sphinx. I hope that if they do a Sequel they get some good voice talent as that would add just that but more depth and hopefully a lot more humour in to the game.
So what was missing?
Well if the first part in a series there was nothing really missing, that's presuming this is the first part in a series.
If this is a single instalment game, then I would say a few more monsters, and other things for your character to collect, as the collecting of monsters is a fun aspect of the game. Other collectables would also be fun and quirky items would be interesting.
The ability to switch characters at will is something that was missing but if there is a sequel they may be saving the best till later. Other little things which I think they could have put in seem to be obviously missing but I hope that if a sequel is in development they add a lot more to the game.
A fabulous game, with no low points and plenty of high points, an excellent start to what I hope will be a phenomenal series of games.
Unlike many games on the market today Sphinx shows an excellence in programming as well as storytelling, nether show one bit of lacklustre work, and both are beautifully woven together.
My hope that if they do a sequel they add much more to the game, things you can collect, and defiantly more role-playing aspects, even if its just basic stats which you can upgrade.
Also they need to do more with the monsters you can collect as only a few of them actually have some use, where they other ones you sell to get some small amounts of cash. When you can just walk around the corner from the monster shop and crack open a jar to get the same amount of cash.
If you want a game that could become the next 'Sonic the Hedgehog' or 'Tomb Raider,' this is one to put your money on, as it could build up in to the next big series of games. So what are you waiting for, now you have finished reading this go out and buy the game.