The Cameron Files (CF for short) is produced by Wanadoo, the company that made Dracula: Resurrection and Dracula: The Last Sanctuary. They obviously used the same game engine, which is good for cost-savings, but I really wish they would have fixed some of the problems I mentioned in my reviews of the Dracula games.
Graphics (quality, animations, cut scenes)
The best description I can give for the graphics is "not bad." Some things were very well done, and added to the sense of realism. I especially liked one small scene where a man wearing a kilt surreptiously reaches back with one foot and scratches the back of his leg. The problem areas appears to have been budget related -- many areas seem excessively barren, or even worse, the same object repeated with only the surface texture modified (wheelbarrows, kegs, chests). A castle should have more than five or six dishes in the kitchen, and the complete absence of a dining room seemed very surreal.
Sound (music, voices, special effects)
The music and sound effects supported the game very well without being annoying. I was pleasantly surprised to get something other than bagpipe music throughout the game.
The voice acting was average at best. It wasn't cheesy by any means, but I played this game immediately after playing Egypt II, and The Cameron Files suffers badly in comparison.
Story (plot, theme, depth)
The story is pretty farfetched, but fun for all that. There are definitely some problems with "out of time" terminology and technology (like the use of the word laser in the 19th century), but I was willing to forgive the authors anyway. Think of it as a fantasy story instead of a real-life one and it shouldn't bother you too much.
Characters (depth, development, interaction)
There really wasn't much in the way of character depth or development in this game. They were just there to keep the game going, in spite of some cutscenes that had me hoping to hear some interesting dialog. The characters just showed up when needed to advance the game plot, and were otherwise nowhere to be found.
Puzzles (difficulty, uniqueness, suitability, ugliness, linearity)
Wanadoo hasn't lost its love for timed puzzles: CF was just filled with them, including one in an underwater maze. The only redeeming feature is that they are all reasonably easy to solve in the time period given, although I did usually have to die at least once to find out what I needed to do.
The game designers did one thing that was quite infuriating. If you needed a wheelbarrow (or rope), you could only use the one that was blessed by the game, even though there were a dozen of the darn things sitting around everywhere.
Controls (user interface, save/restore, sound/video adjustments)
CF appears to use the same game engine as the Dracula games, which is commendable for cost savings, but I wish they would have fixed a few irritating items.
There were only 8 slots for saved games, with no capability to give them names (or even slot numbers). All you got was 8 tiny thumbnail pictures, with the date and time when you saved shown under them.
The mouse motion had no dead spot in the middle of the screen, so hunting for hot spots could cause some serious dizziness if you didn't have a smooth mouse hand.
When the game asked you to insert a CD, there was no way to back out or cancel the operation.
You always had to insert CD 1 to start the game, and there was no maximum install to allow you to just put in CD 1 and leave it there.
There were no music or sound adjustments, so thankfully the balance between voices, music and SF sounds was good.
Bugs or problems
There was no full (or maximum) install option
No problems with installation or uninstallation, and no garbage left behind
Fun story (even if silly)
Some fun puzzles
No full install
Must insert CD 1 to start the game
Only 8 save slots, with no naming or numbering scheme
Timed puzzles (many of them)
Fairly barren world -- more details needed
In spite of all its problems, my wife and I still enjoyed playing The Cameron Files. The list of irritants sounds large, but at no time did they ever go over the top and completely drive us away from the game. Wanadoo definitely needs to do a bit of work on their game engine (and install options), and a bit more budget spent on characters and graphics would be nice.
This isn't a "top ten" game by any stretch, and it's probably not even a "keeper." However, it was fun to play, so I recommend that you buy (and play) this game.
This article copyright © 2002, Murray Peterson