Fans of Clive Barker's work will feel instantly at home while fans of great first person shooters will be underwhelmed.
Let's start with the story. By associating a great horror writer like Clive Barker, one would assume that story would be top priority. One would also be wrong, unfortunately. While the premise of having a seven member special ops squad with supernatural powers seems like a great idea, their adventure falls kind of flat, as do the characters. The story goes like this: God originally created a being that was too godlike and then banished it. This Firstborn somehow comes back to power every so often and needs sacrifices to suppress it. The Jericho team is called in and they end up being that sacrifice.
Throughout the game you will travel through time to fight creatures in World War II, ancient Rome, and Sumeria, and it's cool to be in these different times, but the enemies are all about the same, with the inclusion of some tougher guys later on. The creatures are all thoroughly and wonderfully disgusting, in true Clive Barker glory. Aside from the humdrum regular drone enemies, there are some really unique enemies, particularly later in the game. One major plus is the boss fights are all unique and some are pretty intuitive.
As I mentioned before, there are seven or so characters in the Jericho squad. I say "or so" because I don't really know how many there were because it's only necessary to use four of them. In fact, unless the game forces you to use a particular character, I used a female character named Black that had a sniper rifle with grenade launcher attachment. Not only is the sniper rifle a particular favorite of mine, her special power is called ghost bullet, which puts you in the perspective of her sniper bullet and allows you to take out multiple enemies with a single shot. She is by far the best character in the game, as far as I am concerned. The other characters I only played with when it was deemed necessary to solve a puzzle or whatever. These were few and far between.
*SPOILERS*The above fact is driven home even further in the final boss battle against the Firstborn...because all but four members of your squad are blown to bits right before the fight. What is the point of having so many squad members if the game even knows they are useless?
One thing that I liked quite a bit was the short levels. These days, games are getting where the levels are so large that it takes a few hours to get through one level, and that's fine, but there is something to be said for quick bursts and moving on. If there are enough smaller levels, you are getting a good amount of game, it's just broken up in more portable pieces. In Jericho there are about 20-25 levels and some of them are just a few minutes and the longer ones are still under an hour. By the end I think I had beaten the game on hard difficulty after about 10-12 hours of play. Having shorter levels makes finishing up the achievements easier too, as they are tied to beating the levels, and some require you not to "die".
"Dying" is an odd thing in Jericho. Through means that I won't spoil, you really cannot die. Your character can become incapacitated and you fall down, and then you take control of another character, and you can heal the character you were just playing as and switch back. It does take a bit of the edge off the challenge, but it also makes sense given the game's plot.
If there was one thing that I absolutely hated about Jericho it would have to be the quick time events during some parts. There are only a handful of these, but they are insanely quick, need extreme speed and come out of nowhere. You WILL fail them when they first pop up, and likely fail some of them a dozen times or so until you just memorize the pattern. Not only are they annoying, they don't fit in the game at all. After some digging I found that Codemasters has a cheat code where you can automatically 'win' these events, but you need to buy the cheat code from them. I have a hunch that money is the only reason they are in there, which is sad. Luckily, they aren't frequent enough to totally mar the experience.
Playing this, I was constantly reminded of Killzone for the Playstation 2. That game wasn't particularly impressive, but it had some good moments and ended up being pretty enjoyable, yet was panned by most critics. Jericho is not a revolutionary game by any means, but it's fun. If you are a fan of Clive Barker, blood and gore, or just looking for a slight change of pace from most FPS games, this is at least worth a rental. I found it in a bargain bin for under $10, and I am very pleased with the purchase.
For those achievement hunters, the free cheat codes make some of the levels a little easier, especially the infinite ammo code. I was able to get 1000/1000 in less than 15 hours. The only ones I didn't get the first time through are the ones for killing 100 or 250 enemies a certain way, but you can get those after beating the game if you wish. Playing on hard isn't much more difficult than normal, either. I would rate the difficulty to get 1000 a 4 out of 10.
In closing, Jericho has some hits and some misses. A few years from now I likely won't remember much about this game other than some of the enemy design since it is so much like Hellraiser. I wouldn't be surprised to see a sequel sometime in the future, but I would definitely wait for a price drop before picking it up unless they fixed a lot of this games shortcomings. I recommend it as a budget buy or a rental, but don't get your hopes up too high for a high caliber first person shooter. This game is good, but it's far from great.