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Burn:Cycle - Would-be interactive movie is CD-i's high-water mark

>> Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sol Cutter's latest data theft has gone straight to his head, along with the deadly vius BURN:CYCLE. Even now, the virus is eating his brain from the inside out. As Sol Cutter you have two hours to deactivate the virus by using your brain - while you still have one. BURN:CYCLE features state of the art fully digitised live action sequences, magically surreal 3D environments, and interactive gameplay of mind-blowing speed and sphistication. It's the most beautiful CD-i game which doesn't require the Digital Video Cartridge. It's the mark of the "Interactive Movie". Read on for the full review!

Burn:Cycle is a revolutionary game for the simple reason that it is less of a game and more of that holy-grail of new-media synthesis: the interactive movie.

On the surface, it looks like a cyberpunk extension of The 7th Guest. The clean interface consists of a first-person perspective with an on-screen cursor that changes into an arrow (indicating possible movement), cross- hairs (for shooting or selecting objects), a hand (for picking up objects), and other abilities or tools, depending on the context.

But the key difference is that whereas 7th Guest had classic puzzles with just enough story to hold it together, Burn:Cycle takes the opposite tack. The story comes first in this title, with such adventure-game staples as puzzles, searching, bartering, shooting, etc., serving only to advance the story.

That's a pretty risky approach when you consider how absolutely wretched most adventure-game story lines are. Generally, they consist of:

1. You are pretty-boy prince who must rescue the beautiful kidnapped princess.
2. You are the noble young knight/elf/hobbit/fuzzy-bunny who must go on a quest to recover a powerful object.
3. Whatever happened in the movie that the game is based on.

Burn:Cycle's basic hook is a high-concept premise: you're Sol Cutter, a data thief who's just downloaded a computer virus that has spread to your brain, and it will kill you in exactly two hours. Oh, and the people you just stole that data from are swarming towards you with guns. Who got the virus in your head, how'd they do it, how do you get it out, and what does it all mean? It's a great idea, combining classic paranoia (from Kafka's The Trial to TV's The Prisoner) with the aesthetics and nihilistic world-view of the cyberpunk genre.

Ordinarily, of course, you don't talk about aesthetics and story-lines in a game. But here, the whole really is more than the sum of its parts. The acting and writing create a believable and interesting world, while the pasting of the low-resolution actors onto computer-rendered backgrounds makes for a unique look -- one that's appropriately hi-tech and inhuman.

Furthermore, the plot developments are well-conceived so that you keep with the game and have a sense you're getting somewhere. You learn more about other characters and your world, through conversations and video ''cut scenes'' that advance the plot. The game has an interesting design in that you have an ability to determine what parts of the world you want to visit and interact with (non-linear media), but still has a traditional plot development as you accomplish important tasks and make discoveries (linear media).

At first, it may seem like the average wandering-around adventure game when you get to the city, but things start happening after you meet Gala, and really pick up steam once you get into the ''televerse''.

Technically, Burn:Cycle pushes the CD-i's capabilities and is a powerful statement of what the base-case machine can do. It rarely takes more than a second for the disc to bring up video scenes, jump from place to place, etc. The video is also surprisingly good for base case -- the hard- edged compression is evident, but visually appropriate against computer- rendered backgrounds.

Lots of nice touches throughout: initial pressings include an audio-CD soundtrack by British TV and film composer Simon Boswell. The disc comes in a fold-out box that also includes a packet of e-mail messages to Cutter that may help explain characters' motives and reveal the Big Picture.

Games can be saved any time your cursor is active and take about 9% of your player's memory each. You can also re-view the last video sequence to listen for clues, hints, definitions, and revelations you missed the first time.

So who wouldn't like Burn:Cycle? For one thing, people who've played lots of adventure games. I don't think they'll get it. They'll get to the puzzles, which are generally quite simple, and wonder what the big deal is. Of course, I think ''the deal'' is as much the story as it is the game elements. Burn:Cycle is a pretty easy game to finish, and if you get into the story, that's a good thing. Who'd watch a movie that took 20 hours of frustration to get to the end of?

To its credit, Burn:Cycle is unapologetically violent, scary, profane, and cynical. Those stylistic elements fit the plot-theme of the work, but there are certainly people who don't care for such R-rated fare, and they'd be best to avoid the title entirely.

I'll admit to one gripe about the game elements -- too many of the action sequences and even some of the puzzles have lethal consequences for failure. I'd thought we'd gotten away from the ''Zork'' tradition of killing the player every time he or she does something wrong, which in turn places an inordinate importance on saving the game every time you do something right. For example, a guard paces outside the hotel. How are you to know he'll kill you if you approach him? And what happens if you haven't saved your game? Frustration! Furthermore, this doesn't have to be a lethal threat -- he could just shoot at you and you'd watch Cutter dodge and maybe do a voice-over hint about needing some help to get past the guard.

Still, Burn:Cycle is a revolutionary title, one that goes ''outside the box'' by moving from adventure game to interactive story. At its best, it's art.

Credits: Chris Adamson, Daan, CD-i Collective, The World of CD-i

2 reacties:

steven Kalohelani April 19, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

I remeber this game, and for that time it was revolutionary for me I SOOO enjoyed it and wish i had never sold mine lol

Anonymous,  January 17, 2012 at 10:16 PM  

Out of all the games I own for the CD-i, this one is easily my favourite. I even purchased it for the pc when I saw it at my local pawn shop. Are there any more that are like this?

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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