Its 2044: New York City, the nations of earth have finally put their differences behind them and created a united government. The freedom of information act has been introduced which supposedly prohibits classification of any document, everything must be shared over the global net and secrets are illegal!
Books are scanned their electronic copies made available for all to read online; the written word is a thing of the past and no longer taught at schools. However due to the time needed to transfer information to electronic format, a lot of information is currently unavailable.
The character you play is Peter Wright a communication designer who works for a company called Greenberg and Winter, a kind of futuristic advertising agency. They are contracted to devise advertising campaigns and slogans to be viewed in every home and on huge view screens placed around the city.
However, Peter couldn't care less about the goings on in his agency or anything else for that matter; his wife and child were killed in a plane crash (supposedly) orchestrated by a terrorist organisation called the Ludites. Ever since the loss of his family he's become understandably isolated and withdrawn. He drinks too much and spends his evenings chatting with strangers online.
So, the game begins with a view from space looking down on the earth, a spy satellite flies past and you have a view from its lens. The shot zooms down to the earth and to a van racing it's way through the streets of New York.
You then see Peter as he watching through the spy hole in his door as what appears to be a heavily armed SWAT team break into the apartment next door and arrest your neighbour and drag him off into the elevator. So the scene is set and you then get to control Peter standing outside his apartment...
Moment of silence is a point and click, mostly conversation-based adventure. It boasts 500 interactive scenes, non-linear dialogs, high resolution and fully animated 2d and 3d graphics. As well as that more than 35 speaking characters with lip synched dialogs totalling over 7 hours, about 30 minutes of video sequences and a movie-quality multi-channel Dolby surround sound soundtrack.
The story itself is full of conspiracies and has a healthy mix of interesting characters ranging from an insane guru preaching the end of the world, a prostitute and a deaf guitar-playing hippie! The most useful addition to this particular adventure is the inclusion of the hotspot "H" key, which when pressed initially shows the exits available on the screen, then once held down shows where items and conversation points are.
It feels a little like cheating using this, but it really helps in a few situations where you find yourself not able to get where you want to go! (more, on that later), it also saves all the effort when looking for a particular item, no more zipping your cursor around a screen looking for the icon to change!
Graphically, the game starts well with the shot of the earth and you think you are in for a treat, but once the camera zooms down to earth you realise your just going to get nothing more than average cut-scene animation, but it does do the job.
The in-game the graphics are good, characters are well animated and as I said earlier all dialog is lip synched, although the animators seemed to have forgotten about the prostitutes' cigarette which seemed to float out of her mouth every time she adjusted her cleavage! Backgrounds are well designed, colourful and full of detail, although lacking in a bit of incidental animation. (Why in adventure games does everyone always just stand there waiting for you to come talk to them?)
Personally, I think one of the highlights of this game is the soundtrack, reminiscent of Vangelis' "Blade Runner" OST, it's atmospheric, varied and sets the mood for the backdrops nicely. Atmospheres are also shaped through the addition of background sound effects, everything from the hustle and bustle of a busy street; to birds chirping seem to bring the scene to life.
Game play however is very simplistic, as with the majority of games of this genre. The game is very linear and finding yourself having to exhaust every avenue of conversation with every character no matter how trivial or sometimes even contrary to previous conversations, becomes quite frankly boring. Conversations don't follow on in a sensible manner and having to repeat "There's something else" to get back to an earlier topic of conversation destroys any illusion of having a genuine conversation with a character.
The game itself would be more enjoyable with the exclusion of "filler" conversation just to make the game longer. The puzzles however are well thought out though, nothing too ridiculous and not even much stealing going on!!! You end up asking for almost everything before taking it, which makes a welcome change from most kleptomaniac style adventures! I also found it quite difficult to exit some screens as the exit point sometimes is such a small point on the screen and often on your way to that point you'd end up on another screen all together!
From the beginning of the game the story is quite slow moving, you find it quite hard to believe that Peter would take such interest and even break the law for a family of people he's seen nothing more than fleeting glances of, occasionally having nodded to in the hallway! For all he knows they may be a family of chavs and the husband's just been arrested for stealing someone's TV and selling it on ebay! As the story progresses you find yourself getting more involved and become quite intrigued with the conspiracies concerning aliens and big brother!
Once you've exhausted every relevant conversation to the plot with each character it opens up the next piece of the puzzle and next part of the game. I would have liked a decision I made to have affected the game, it would have made the game less linear even if a particular choice changed the outcome of the game, changed a characters attitude towards Peter or even a bad choice put Peter's life in jeopardy.
As for longevity of game play, once completed I really can't see anyone coming back to play the game again once completed due to the linear nature of the game. That is if you complete the game at all seeing as it is not possible unless you download the patch for the game, this rectifies one of the clues given to you incorrectly and one corridor that you need to go down is not reachable. I only realised this myself once wandering around for hours not being able to figure out where to go, only to get p***ed off and download a walkthrough off the net! What happened to the beta testers!!
To be honest I'm a relative newcomer to this particular genre of game although the limited knowledge I do have is considered to be of the classics! (Depending on whom you talk to I suppose) So having played, Monkey Island, Broken Sword and Blade runner, I felt this game brought nothing new to the genre; in fact I enjoyed the aforementioned titles more. I did play this one through to the end and at no point really felt for or really connected to any of the characters, the story lacked suspense and not once did I feel the character was is any danger. I now when I played Broken Sword, I really felt and connected with the characters and really got immersed in the story, this didn't happen here.
During my time writing this article I looked around the net for other peoples opinions on this particular title and it comes really highly rated on all the review sites I looked at and to be honest I can't really see why, did I miss something? I don't know, graphics are good and so is the music, the concept of the story is great but the game overall is lacking in character.