Originally Published: Wednesday, 9 February 2000 Author: Jeremy Kuhnash
Published to: enhance_articles_games/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Hopkins FBI

Something about adventure step-by-step games has always intrigued gamers, no matter what the genre. In the mid 80's it was "Zork" by Infocom. In the late 80's technology graduated us to the likes of "Leisure Suit Larry" by providing the gamer with a 3D playing ground as well as pushing the envelope of risque story lines.

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Written by: Jeremy Kuhnash Edited by: Terry Warner

Introduction - Preface

Something about adventure step-by-step games has always intrigued gamers, no matter what the genre. In the mid 80's it was "Zork" by Infocom. In the late 80's technology graduated us to the likes of "Leisure Suit Larry" by providing the gamer with a 3D playing ground as well as pushing the envelope of risque story lines.

For the late 90's we are now offered an even larger jump in realism by the advances in hardware and software engineering capabilities. One game that takes full advantages of the broad spectrum offered to the computing community is "Hopkins FBI" by MP Entertainment. Written using the now-popular SDL, or Simple DirectMedia Layer, Hopkins was developed from the ground up to be platform and OS independent. SDL is a fairly low-level programming API frontend with many backend implementations including Linux, Win32, BeOS and MacOS. Simple DirectMedia Layer was also used in the Linux port of Activision's largely popular "Civilization: Call To Power".

Pre-Cursor

Hopkins FBI was one of the first commercial game titles to also be offered in a native Linux version. As any Linux desktop user will tell you, the offering of commercial games have been long awaited and are now welcomed with enthusiasm. As far as commercial games go, Hopkins has already earned a good deal of respect because it lives up to its promises: to be an entertaining, fast-moving playable comic book with a complete story line. Things start out as a terrorist crime organization gains control over 2 nuclear missiles, and you, Hopkins FBI are called to the scene to save woman and country - basically the same hero's plight we are all accustomed to. However, what the setting lacks in originality the graphics make up for in some quite neat-looking graphics and animation.

Installation

Installing Hopkins FBI should be a no brainer to most folks using Linux as a desktop/X workstation. Simply mounting the cdrom and running the 'Install' script should be all that is needed for a complete install. I completed a full install completely to my hard disk. There is also an option to run from CD, however. One downside is the lack of a user install without having the need for su access, something that should be viewed as an essential option in multi-user operating systems.

Running Hopkins FBI

To get started, one only needs to execute 'Hopkins_FBI' from the path given at install time. To this point everything goes well, but a few quirks readily jumped to my attention. Hopkin's game options are limited from within the game. 'Full screen mode' and 'Force-8-bit display' have to be hand edited in the config.ini file located in the Hopkins install directory. In my opinion, this doesn't lend itself well to a user-friendly setup for newbie types. Of course, before I go blaming the HFBI developers for this I realize that it is probably a limitation of the SDL libraries and the handling of initial startup video modes. To be thorough, I ran Hopkins on 2 different systems running at different color depths. Hopkins performs great on an X display of 16 bit, but when I set the game up to run on my 256 color display it had screen refresh problems. I also could not get it to execute full screen in this mode. I suspect the SDL libraries for causing this problem as well.

Game Play

After I everything was configured correctly, I can finally execute the command 'Hopkins_FBI', and soon the games starts cranking. The soundtrack fires up initially with some tunes courtesy of that 60's sensation 'The Troggs'. This great selection for the game sets up that whole 'rock and roll detective' feel for the game. Of course, Hopkins himself succeeds more as a Fonzie look alike than Ford Fairlane, but I guess we all have our heroes. When I tested the demo for this game on its initial release at the end of 1998, it was apparent that Hopkins possessed graphics unparalleled in anything previously released for Linux. The introduction rolls past with very modern comic book flair but after viewing the intro for a second or two I got that familiar twitch again and started up a game. As Detective Hopkins, you start out in your bachelor pad which is meant to prepare you for your role as dynamo crime fighter. A little hint: look around a good bit here for some necessary articles in the game. What started to get really appealing was watching as I led my character around a world that looked strikingly familiar to that cool animated sci-fi film from some years back, 'Heavy Metal'.

Another great aspect of the game is that your view of Hopkins' world is different in every scene. When inside buildings, it's the familiar aspect we associate with most graphical adventure games. If you lead Hopkins outside, however, you might navigate your car from a bird's eye view or view the street corner from a few blocks off. This helps keep things from being monotonous as well as getting around efficiently. One thing that I would like to mention to the developers though is that gameplay would benefit from a faster-moving Hopkins character which sometimes hinders repeating scenes and getting around in general. Otherwise, the usage of the mouse buttons to scroll through and perform actions all seems natural and maintains the playability of the game. Audio in the game is great - most actions will receive a voice response from either Hopkins himself or whomever he is talking to. Conversations throughout the game are great too although some might not like only having a choice of 3 different things to say to any one person. I view it as a good guided attempt to keep the game moving along, instead of coming across the common problem of guessing some 'open sesame' phrase for hours and hours that plagues most other first person adventures.

One thing that might make Hopkins unsuitable for certain audiences is its use of highly graphic imagery, showing some fairly explicit scenes of violence and scantily clad women. Therefore I would warn an adult buying this thinking it would be a great game for his 10-year-old son. It's an adult game for an adult audience, even though it would probably only gain a rating of PG-13 since it is animated. I think as the very first commercial game to be released for Linux, Hopkins FBI performs very well. It has great gameplay, graphics and can keep the average player entertained for days on end. Most others that I know have sat down to play and continued on to finish the game. This make me give a rating overall of 4 out of 5 Penguins for Hopkins FBI by MP Entertainment. Also I took some screenshots of the game which can be found by clicking here.





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