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Undercover: Dual Motives

Someone has leaked top secret military plans regarding a new plane project to the Germans. Within the confines of a large facility situated in the middle of nowhere, evidence has been planted to seed doubt in scientist John Russell. With the help of his feisty secretary lady-friend, Audrey, John has only 24 hours to prove his innocence before the Colonel and other high ranking authority figures shoot him down as a traitor. You, on the other hand, only need a good 4-5 hours and lots of patience before the truth is uncovered in a lacklustre conclusion.

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Undercover: Dual Motives is a traditional point-and-click adventure game. So traditional, in fact, that everything about it screams low-budget and low-quality. Solving this whodunit is a case of navigating a series of inanimate, pre-rendered backdrops. You’ll need to perform a thorough search of each environment for clues and tools that will help with problematic scenarios that crop up later on. Navigation is as simple as touching the screen (hotspots can be conveniently highlighted), but there does seem to be a fair bit of lag (yes, lag!) which makes the process of getting about feel somewhat stilted. Not to mention the polygonal models for our protagonists and the various NPCs – they look crudely pathetic and walk about as if a cactus were lodged up their butts.

As the subtitle suggests, dual play is what separates this from your average Sam & Max or Broken Sword. You control both John and Audrey in tandem. This leads to a few interesting situations where you’ll have to use one character as a distraction whilst the other sneaks past a guard to snoop around a restricted area. As you deal with either lead character on the lower touch-screen, the significant other’s whereabouts will be shown on the top. This allows you to keep tabs on both of them no matter where they are at any one time, and switching between them is easily done at the press of a button. Unfortunately, this dual-play mechanic is sorely underused and for the most part, John will be your man for everything: climbing ladders and boxes (Audrey doesn’t want her underwear to show); manipulating power cables (too dangerous for Audrey); and of course, waking up old scientists by splashing cold water onto their faces (Audrey is… allergic to water?)

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Right from the start, you are thrust into an intriguing web of conspiracy that promises much, but doesn’t deliver in the slightest. Interface issues aside, you’ll be stumped by some of the most illogical puzzles ever devised here. Combining items to create more useful ones is an important element, but just how is one to figure out that the coat-rack top in John’s office needs to be sawed off and then attached to the rope he ‘borrowed’ off the floor of a colleague’s workplace to create a makeshift grappling hook?! There are plenty of other perplexing item moments just like that. Some touch-based minigames break up these mystifying occasions, but while sounding good on paper, the terrible touch-sensitivity leads to some of the most abhorrent tasks I’ve ever seen. One has you picking locks Splinter Cell style, another sees you sending and receiving Morse code, and you’ll even have to tilt the body of the voluptuous Audrey as she struggles to float up to the top of an experimental wind-tunnel. Yes, it sounds like quite an adventure, but when nothing responds to your gentle touch for minutes on end, you’ll want to kick the bucket in more ways than one – and from experience, I can safely say that skydiving in a real-life wind tunnel is infinitely more enjoyable and actually easier than what Audrey has to go through here!

What is wall-talk?“I swear that I’ve seen him before…”
“Where?”
“I don’t know…”
“Damn.”
“Yes.”
“Bye.”
….. WTF?!
The DS – with its unique touch-screen asset – may be the perfect portable vehicle for this peculiar gaming genre, but there hasn’t been much to speak of apart from a certain attorney’s shenanigans. So, is Dual Motives something that fans of the genre will appreciate? (I think I’ve already made it clear that casual adventure gamers should steer clear!) If you can cope with laggy, wooden movement, touch-detection that goes from iffy during navigation to horrible in the minigames, a story which doesn’t (even try to) make much sense, minimal music, and conversations bordering on wall-talk, you might find some comfort in this old-school adventure game that sticks to its prehistoric roots. Otherwise, this isn’t worth the time – even though it is a pretty damn short ride.

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in May 2007.

Gentle persuasion

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