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PC review: 'Clive Barker's Undying'

Platform: PC

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(IDG) -- Irish sorcerer Patrick Galloway is summoned to the estate of his friend Jeremiah Covenant to do a little paranormal investigation. Apparently, the ghost of Covenant's dead sister -- and a whole horde of horrifying freaks of nature -- are making regular appearances at the neighborhood's ominous Standing Stones. Playing as Galloway, you search for answers and uncover unspeakable evils, including a Scythe that drove an entire monastery mad, an unspeakable family secret, and the Curse of the Undying King.

Where "Undying" really shines is in the details. You wield weapons in your left hand, and spells in your right, and the arsenal you collect is perfectly balanced so that you're always finding new and interesting ways to make your two hands work in tandem. The Scrye spell is an absolutely brilliant little addition, enabling you to see horrifying parts of the world just beyond the edge of reality. It would've been simple to turn "Undying" into a straightforward first person shooter. Instead, EA has crafted a complex gothic horror story that's worth dying for.

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  • Graphics: 4.5 -- A tweaked "Unreal Tournament" engine makes for some creepy, beautiful architecture, and the enemies are bound to give you nightmares. The game requires a lot of horsepower, so expect a low frame rate unless you're running it on HAL 9000.

  • Sound: 5.0 -- Excellent voices and a terrifying use of ambient noises makes the audio awesome. The music doesn't chime in frequently, but when it does, it escalates the tension to capillary-bursting levels.

  • Controls: 4.5 -- If you've played "Unreal" or "Quake," you'll be right at home. Access to your arsenal is quick and simple, and you always find new and useful ways to play with your hyper-cool weapons and spells.

  • Fun Factor: 5.0 -- With a creepy, excellent story and perfectly paced, complex action, Undying oozes freaky atmosphere. The enemies are actually intelligent, and a ton of little touches like the Scrye spell add depth. Undying is the most complete and balanced single-player first-person shooter since "Half-Life."



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