Bureau 13 was a GameTek production loosely based on the popular pen-and-paper roleplaying game of the same name. You play members of a highly classified government agency, whose mission is to identify, track and exterminate all forms of paranormal and supernatural phenomena. To accomplish this you must set up a team using your six Bureau 13 field operatives, each with his or her own unique skills and abilities..
When you first begin the game, you will watch a small video highlighting the mission. Take care to read everything carefully, as clues are hidden in the briefing. Then it is time to choose the two operatives you will use. You can choose between Isaac Richards (the hacker), Delilah Littlepanther (the mechanic), Father Jonathan Blank (the priest) and Jimmy Suttle (the thief). In addition to these "normal" agents, you have two supernatural ones as well: Alexander Keltin (the vampire) and Selma Gray (the witch). Different agents will have alternative solutions to some of the puzzles in the game, so there is more than one way to finish the game. However, there is always a solution to the problem close by. If you can't pick the lock or use the vampire to "mist" through the door in order to gain access to a building, you can simply break the door down. (Not very subtle, but it gets the job done).
Since you are members of a highly classified government agency, stealth is emphasized in the briefing. You should try to leave all things the way they were when you arrived, meaning you should always close all doors after you leave - or see your score drop. However, this is to me one of the most pointless and stupid things in the entire game. I understand the importance of leaving a scene undisturbed in order to make it look as if no-one was there, but...!
First of all, this is only limited to the closing of opened doors, drawers, windows, lockers and the like. You can't put down items you don't need anymore, so if you take a remote control you can't put it back to where you took it from. Also, you can break glass without seeing your score drop. (Won't someone miss their remote control? And what about a seemingly undisturbed scene having a recent break-in?) Another thing that would at least get my attention is Delilah Littlepanther. This very beautiful agent walks around in her underwear, and to top it off she is wearing a huge, experimental, mechanized battlesuit! If this is the agency's idea of travelling incognito, then it is a miracle to me how they have managed to stay secret for so long. I would have loved to see more actions available to the player. For instance my idea for the police station break-in would leave no apparent clues (at least not for as long as the sheriff is in the hospital). I would have locked the evidence room door, placed the key back in its drawer and closed it, turned the power on, closed the fusebox, exited the room, and closed all doors behind me. The only thing the game would allow me to do, however, was to close all doors. So when the policeman returns, he will find the power turned off - walk into the sheriff's office to turn it back on - notice that the shelves in the evidence room are empty (as the security monitor is in the sheriff's office) - notice that the key to the evidence room is missing - see that the evidence room door is unlocked... It would take him three seconds to launch a warrant for the two people who just happened to visit the station a minute before all this happened.
Although the game is based on an RPG, the game itself is more of an adventure/puzzle game. The story is very linear, and just like in every other adventure game you will walk around picking up every little thing that isn't nailed down (and some that are). All your agents have been outfitted with specially issued infinite pockets, so you will have no problem bringing all your precious possessions with you. This includes such items as a big waste-basket of metal (right front pocket) and a three-meter-tall tree (inner left pocket). The realism of the game sort of fades away at this point.
Another thing that could have been improved is the talking. Dialogues take a long time to finish, and you can't fast-forward during them. So you must have a great deal of patience in certain scenes. There are also a couple of glitches in the game that must be mentioned. From time to time, the game will notice items on the screen that are not there. The reason is simple; the items are now in my carry-all jacket, but to the game they are still on the screen - so-called ghost images. You will also notice that the graphics might get screwed up at times (like when you close the fuse-box in the delivery boy's dressing room, and it leaves a black blob in the wall where the door used to be), but the biggest bug will have to be Eddie Houston's coffee table: By examining it you will be told that it is in fact a two-lane highway leading east!
When it comes to the graphics in the game, they are very atmospheric and cinematic (except for the occasional glitches mentioned before). The animations are also very pleasing to the eye, and the music in the game enhances the feel. In fact, the music is so good that the original game CD featured an audio track as well. That way you could play the music on your stereo if you wanted. The most confusing aspect of the game (at least in the beginning) is the controls, but after a very short time it will be easy to navigate through the game. However, I must mention a few things in order to ease your suffering. To swap between the characters you must move the cursor to the top of the screen and right-click. This will take you into an agent menu which lists inventory, special skills and the agents themselves. Click on the left or right badge to swap between them. All the objects you can interact with will change the colour of your cursor, and by right-clicking you will browse through the available options like Open/Close, Move, Examine, Talk to and so on. There are also shortcuts on the keyboard for the most commonly used actions like (T)alk and (O)pen/close.
All in all, Bureau 13 is a very entertaining game. The puzzles are just difficult enough to make you think a little, and most of them have quite logical solutions. It is a game which I thought was really interesting and fun to play, and one that I would recommend to anyone who likes to play adventure games which make you use your brain. Just don't expect too much realism from it.
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