Cracking the Conspiracy Review

Cracking the Conspiracy has everything you will want in a good adventure game - an intriguing story, wonderful graphics and music, logical and challenging puzzles. This game is similar in many respects to the Broken Sword and Tex Murphy adventures due to the animated graphics and the overall feel of the puzzles and situations you will encounter.

As the game begins, an old friend sends you a mysterious package and pleads for your help in uncovering a massive conspiracy that could ultimately result in alien invasion of Earth. The package contains a communicator with encrypted secret government files. Your friend, Kelsey Hart, was able to escape but without the communicator. She tells you to break into Area 51, unlock the files, and then send the communicator to her hiding place. Only then will the world believe the terrible secrets the government has been hiding for decades.

Your character, John, proceeds to an abandoned uranium mine, which leads to a back entrance of the Roswell base in Nevada. The game's first of many challenges begins here. Finding the mine's entrance blocked by large boulders, John must find the items necessary to open up the mine, solving a riddle presented by an old miner in the process. Wearing a janitor's uniform, John will be able to explore the base's top security areas as he digs for the information he needs.

The game is playable directly from one CD-ROM. Nothing is installed onto your computer except the save game file. The only documentation appears on the back of the CD case and a help file on the CD, but that's all you need. The interface is instinctively simple. Type a letter to save, load or quit a game. The cursors for direction and actions are so easy to use that there is virtually no learning curve. The method in which this is all done made it possible for me to run other applications while the playing the game, which pleasantly surprised me. And the game played flawlessly. I encountered no glitches in game play, no bugs, and no freezes. I wish other manufacturers could make games this simple to play!

The characters are animated, but their features are pleasant and their voices are done well. Conversation is minimal, but when you do have the opportunity to speak, you type the reply, giving the game a nostalgia that I welcomed. The graphics in the game are smoothly rendered. The environment is realistic and the full-motion videos entertaining and informative. One of my favorites happened when I picked up the headset of the Virtual Reality machine and was plunged into space while flying an alien ship. Motion is not 360-degrees, but in this game that feature is not necessary. The music is very well done too, adding atmosphere and suspense where needed.

Puzzles, and there are quite a few, are intricately woven into the plot. Only in one instance did I find a puzzle that was not necessary for solving the game, and that one was so cute that I didn't care. The puzzles are logical and challenging, some more difficult than others. For the most part, the game is non-linear, making it possible for you to explore everything at will.

Overall, Cracking the Conspiracy is one of the best adventure games I have played in the last few years. In fact, I was sorry to see it end! It is one I would recommend to any one who enjoys adventure games. The only drawback I noticed was the 5-slot limit for the number of saved games, but that was only a minor irritation.

-- Jeanne Muse