Anyone who doubts the adventure genre is getting more than a little tired needn't look any further than The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time. This traditional adventure creaks more than the rope bridges spanning its depiction of Shangri-La. While it looks nice, sounds nice, and plays nice, JP3 is a game hampered by its noticeable lack of story, sloppy writing, and one really annoying "feature."
Gamers familiar with the Journeyman Project series will feel right at home playing as the millennia-hopping timecop Gage Blackwood, Agent 5 of the Temporal Security Agency. As the game begins, the Symbiotry, sort of an intergalactic UN, is threatened by ruthless aliens searching for the Legacy, an artifact of immense power. You guessed it, it's your job to find the Legacy in the distant past and save the TSA, Earth, and the Symbiotry. I may be wrong, but wasn't this basic premise exhausted sometime in the second season of the original Star Trek?
Pieces of the Legacy are scattered in the mythic cities of El Dorado, Shangri-La, and - due to an apparent constitutional mandate governing all adventure games - Atlantis. Traveling to these ancient lands is accomplished via your Chameleon Timesuit. Not only does the timesuit let you zip through time, it projects holographic images of people you meet during your quest, allowing you to masquerade as a host of characters as you infiltrate the religious orders that protect/revere the Legacy pieces.
JP3 does a commendable job integrating the artifact into the various faiths (both invented and real), and, though each faith is unique, it creates a unifying consistency of tone throughout the game. Only by understanding each religion do you progress: Getting a handle on the Buddhist wheel of life is rewarded with a chunk of the Legacy. Happily, there are no senseless math or slider puzzles to be found here - puzzles are logically and seamlessly made part of the environments, further enhancing the smooth flow of the game.
Well, that is until the jarringly out-of-place FMV sequences that follow each discovery of a Legacy piece. You're cruising along in a nice, thoughtful game, and wham! - a bad science fiction movie breaks out. It's a low-budget schlock fest laden with dialogue so stilted and hackneyed you can actually see the poor actors cringe right before delivering hoary cliches like, "Now my people, my planet, are in terrible danger!" Yikes. What makes this worse is that these wincingly bad interludes compose the whole of the plot, and all that time spent wandering the past doesn't push the plot forward one bit, despite seeming hours of bland FMV conversations including a particularly tedious lecture by a Tibetan lama. You're bound to feel you're wasting your time.
The lack of an engaging story makes it hard to work up enthusiasm to keep playing. Arthur makes it near impossible. Arthur is your timesuit's artificial intelligence, a useful source of clues and information saddled with a blabbermouth personality that "irritating," "grating," and "worthy of death" don't come close to conveying. Fortunately, you can gag the little virtual creep, at the price of missing some important information.
In the end, the pretty, 360-degree panning environments, the sparse ambient sound, and the modestly challenging puzzles aren't really enough to make JP3 a must-play. Fans of the series will probably enjoy it, but gamers weary of eye-catching but dull adventures might want to wait until someone really does something new with the adventure genre.