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NiBiRu Review
Sia \'Garrett\' Manzari, edited by Kristophe, 2005-04-12

When I first heard of NiBiRu, I had no idea about what it is or meant - but dtp's press kit enlightens us:
In Sumerian history, there is word of a 12th planet (Sumerians also counted the sun and moon as planets, thus 12, not 10): Nibiru, which means 'crossing planet' or 'place of transition'. Babylonians and Mesopotamians called it Marduk, the King of Heaven. The Hebrew people gave it the symbol of a winged globe. Greeks called it Nemesis and prophets named it the Blue Planet, the Red Star or the Fiery Messenger. NiBiRu is also featured in ancient Hindu history. Another myth is that NiBiRu is the home of the alien race Annunaki, who are also considered to be the creators of life on earth.

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There is also modern day 'mythology' about a Planet X, which NiBiRu is often referred to as today. There are still anomalies in the orbits of the planets that could be explained by the existence of Planet X. Rumors on the Internet speak of a planet that orbits around the sun once every 3600 years and that, when it is at its closest point to Earth, can be seen with the eye and is the causes of many natural disasters. But enough with this small excursion in ancient myths and modern legends. Let us look at the game itself.

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NiBiRu is the second point and click adventure game by Czech companies Future Games and Unknown Identity that has made it outside their home country. The first game was Black Mirror, which was released in 2004 and was well received (link to our review).

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NibiRu uses the same game engine as Black Mirror, so players of last year's title will feel right at home. There have been a few improvements, of course, the resolution is now 1024x768 instead of being limited to 800x600, like in Black Mirror. There are some tunes, so now weather and particle effects look nicer. However, the main problem with the engine remains: the scenes look too lifeless, too artificially pre-rendered. Also, the animation of the characters is not the best. Those problems aside, the graphics are serviceable in NiBiRu, so let's take a look at the audio aspect of the game.

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The music is very decent, while it works well in certain moments, there are other times where you don't even realize it's there at all. The German voice acting dubbed by dtp is once again exceeding everything else. German voices of Matt Damon and the King of Queens trio Kevin James, Leah Remini and Jerry Stiller build up a perfect atmosphere. The sound effects are very good as well.

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Gameplay & Story

NiBiRu is a classic point and click adventure without any action sequences (thank God)! You take the role of Martin Holan, a student of archeology, who is investigating a matter for his uncle, Professor Wilde. The journey takes off in Prague, but sends Martin all around the world and into all kinds of dangerous situations, with menacing scoundrels, in old dungeons and in old Mayan pyramids. Sound a little like Indiana Jones or Broken Sword? Yes, it is and it is meant to. This is most apparent when Martin runs across the old NiBiRu project of the Nazis in WW2 when he is investigating an old tunnel. NiBiRu has all the elements of a good Indiana Jones game, without reaching the peak of an all time classic like 'Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis', especially the finale is a little strange, not to say disappointing.

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Puzzles are, next to the story, the most important aspect of a good adventure game. Unfortunately, NiBiRu is not performing very well here. While some of the puzzles are far too simple, others are a total paradox (there is a puzzle involving a rat, which I didn't understand even after consulting a walktrough) or annoying - the same annoyance that hampered Black Mirror: You do not see important items, unless you are meant to, for example after you have done something unrelated to the item or talked to a specific person. This is not only illogical, but is like cheating by the developers to prolong the play time, as NiBiRu is a rather short adventure game, which can be solved on a long weekend.

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While it has its weak spots, NiBiRu is a nice adventure game, that has a good story and once you get used to the game mechanics it is really fun and enjoyable. For any new games by Future Games, I wish for livelier graphics and better puzzles please!

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The Verdict
Graphics (15%) 75%
Sound (15%) 90%
Control (25%) 85%
Fun (45%) 75%
Overall 80%

The ups and downs:
Great voice actingGraphics too sterile
Interesting storyPuzzles either to easy
or puzzles to odd
Items become visible after...
special actions onyl

Reviewer's System
Version: German ret
CPU: Pentium IV 1.8GHz
RAM: 512
Graphics GeForce 5800
Sound SB Live Platinum
OS: Win XP Pro

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