Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
Imagine for a brief, frightening moment what the world would be like had Nazi Germany won World War II. Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox does more than just speculate on this horrific twist on world history--it allows you to experience the terrible consequences of it as if it had really happened. Although the basic premise is far from original--read Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle or, more recently, Fatherland by Robert Harris--this interactive graphic adventure provides a few compelling new twists on this popular genre of speculative fiction.
Set in the year 2020, the game paints a bleak image of life in an America ruled by descendants of the Nazi regime. As the story goes, near the end of World War II, Nazi spies stole the U.S. plans for the Manhattan Project, allowing Germany to develop the first atomic bomb, which it dropped on Boston, thus forcing full Allied surrender. Through the years, America became known as the North American Democratic Alliance. Beyond the human atrocities inflicted by this new world order, years of environmental neglect have resulted in a civilization on the brink of ecocide.
You play Mark Hoffman, famed biochemist, who's working full-time for the Nazis developing waste-eating bugs. Secretly, however, you're part of the Unknowns, a covert network of political dissidents struggling to overthrow this dictatorship. As the game begins, the government plans a bloody celebration of 75 years of world domination, while the clock ticks down to ecological disaster. To make matters worse, you've just learned that your son, a leader of the Unknowns, has been targeted for execution by Nazi leaders. It's up to you to stop the madness before it's too late. This sinister web becomes even more entangled with the introduction of another plot thread: time travel.
But just as the intriguing script draws us into the story, the game's outdated graphics and clumsy user interface push us back. While most new adventures step boldly into photorealistic worlds of digitized multimedia, this game remains firmly entrenched in the past with stiff cartoon characters and flat backdrops. Although the game feigns a 3-D environment by allowing characters to walk from foreground to background, the effect is hindered by awkward movement around objects. Likewise, the user interface is remarkably unintuitive, requiring a whirlwind of relentless mouse clicking to move, talk, touch, look, or manipulate onscreen objects. This is a game that cries out for CD-ROM treatment, if only to retrieve the 19MB required for hard drive installation. On the bright side, the game features voices for characters and some pseudo full-motion video clips during character conversations.
Too bad about this alternate-future stuff--imagine how different this game could have been in the age of multimedia. In an ironic twist on its own premise, Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox is, despite its intriguing story line, a game that's out of step with the times.
Circle Reader Service Number 439