Overall Score 69%
Global Conflicts: Latin America
Long time readers might recall a review from back in November 2007 for a game called Global Conflicts: Palestine. Chances are that if you enjoyed that game, then you will get a much the same experience from GC:LA. This time around, instead of concentrating the entire game on the one conflict, a few locations in Latin America are available for play, including 2 on the Mexican/US border, one in Guatemala, and another two in Bolivia. The game predominantly explores human suffering and denial of human rights including scenarios such as people smuggling, corruption in government and slavery.
Once again the player has the choice to play as one of two investigative reporters. Isabel Romero is of Guatemalan descent, but brought up in the USA from childhood. Santiago Alvarez was born of a Mexican mother, but grew up with his father, also in the USA. Both are educated and experienced reporters, and the choice of which avatar the player wishes to use has no effect gameplay wise. After one of the 4 available scenarios (actually 5 if you include the tutorial mission) has been chosen, the game commences.
The actual gameplay centres around travelling between locations, interviewing subjects and collecting statements from them. Often, for a number of reasons, people will not offer information straight away, and the player will have to return later with additional evidence or research to continue a specific line of questioning. The questions are posed in game by the player activating buttons at the bottom of the playfield. Each line of investigation has its own button, and each button also displays the number of responses that the particular subject can make on that topic. When buttons are grayed out, it means that the reporter has a gut feeling that the subject knows more about a certain issue, but is not willing to divulge the information yet.
The goal of each scenario is to complete a final interview with a key person that could be incriminated or otherwise embarrassed by the presentation of vital arguments that the player can substantiate with their collected statements. As the interview continues, a rapid heart beat sound can be heard at several critical times throughout, and at that point the player has a chance to interject with their selected argument. Upon correctly selecting the appropriate argument from a list, the subject becomes rattled and may provide extra information or simply admit to a wrong-doing. The result of this final interview will provide the player's score for the scenario, so it's important to be well prepared for it. There are only a certain amount of hours that the player has to collect statements and conduct research, and following trivial lines of questioning or wasting too much time travelling can impact on the final score.
Is the game fun to play? Maybe - I'm not so sure. The subject matter is very interesting, and covers some topics of which I had very little previous knowledge. Yet the gameplay seems a little stale; it's just point and click for the most part, and on occasion the player might feel like they are just clicking through the game rather than having a great deal of input into the outcome of things. Still, it is quite difficult to collect all the possible arguments for use at the final interview, so time management skills and analytical thinking do have a part to play, I guess.
The 3-D graphics are based on the same engine as the ones we saw in GC:Palestine. As your character moves around, the camera angle automatically changes so you get a fairly good view of the city streetscapes and villages. Although not cutting edge, the graphics are still quite pleasing and definitely add to the immersion factor. The sounds consist mainly of ambient noise on the streets and various other locations. There's only a set amount of text in the game - perhaps voiceover content is something that might have added to the immersion as well.
In all, there is only around 5 hours maximum worth of content here, and at $30 that's not great value. Due to its design, the game has only limited replay potential. Putting that aside though, the game would be an excellent educational tool for the classroom in terms of a general knowledge of Latin America and some of the problems that people face there today, as well as the value of an independent press. I'm pleased that the developers have attempted to portray the content of the scenarios in an unbiased and objective manner, and also included well-written characters that will provide diverse and interesting comment on each issue at hand.
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