As something of a hardened follower of US television series Lost, presently beginning its fourth series stateside, the upcoming Lost videogame from Ubisoft is something of a poisoned chalice. Of course, I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing what the French publisher have done with such rich and challenging source material, but I'm also concerned that they might sully the nuanced plottings and characterisation of the series, videogame adaptations from the TV hardly blessed with a wonderful pedigree.
The fact that the developers aren't allowed to reveal any new bombshells is also of concern, after all, we're hoping for an experience somewhat more interesting from a story perspective than simply a re-hash of the first three seasons through the eyes of a new character. Still, Ubisoft did a wonderful job on Peter Jackson's King Kong, so perhaps we should have more faith in the game's creators, especially as they're working directly with the producers to make the game an authentic Lost 'episode' (albeit somewhat longer than usual tantalising 45 minutes).
The game is due out soon, in fact, and should reach the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 at the end of the month in some regions, yet despite this, the publisher's have been remarkably quiet. Hype has been contained to a few images, a couple of interviews and a trailer or two. Why? Well, for a start, the developers probably don't want to give away too much story or indeed gameplay prior to release - an air of mystery being at the heart of what makes the TV program so compelling. Of course, critics might also say that this is a sign that the game won't live up to fans' expectations.
That said, producer Damon Lindelof said the game was looking "ridiculously awesome," and with Ubisoft Montreal at the helm, and third person-style gameplay planned, we think players might just warm to "new" Lostie, photojournalist Elliott, who players will be guiding through the game. Conveniently, Elliott has amnesia and can't remember what happened before the crash. Luckily, Elliott will be helped by various familiar faces: Jack, Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, Ben (did I say helped?), Juliet, Sun, Desmond, Claire and possibly some other favourites, too. Elliott will also be coming across the bizarre "Smoke Monster", The Others, and marooned galleon, the Black Rock. Combat won't be a focus, either, with the game lodged firmly in the 'action-adventure' category through a mix of quests, puzzles and exploration.
While I confusingly described the game as an 'episode' earlier, I should perhaps explain that the game purports to in fact be the equivalent of seven episodes, or at least, this is the way the experience has been divided up by Ubisoft Montreal. What's more, producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have actually penned the story that will be told through what I'm now going to erroneously describe as a side 'series'.
While some of the original cast are on-hand to voice their characters - Ben Linus (Michael Emerson), Mikhail Bakunin (Andrew Divoff), Sun-Hwa Kwon (Yunjin Kim), Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick), Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin), and Tom (M. C. Gainey) - we learn that Jack, Kate, Hurley, Locke et al will all be portrayed by stands-ins, which is a shame.
Will the Lost game prove a satisfactory companion to the television based struggles of the Oceanic Flight 815 survivors, or will it fall flat? Well, the fact that the developers can't give away anything fundamentally new to the overarching story is a shame, although we are promised new clues and glimpses at other interesting areas of the Lost world, less-trodden in the series. This alone should please Lost fans, although the omission of leading characters' actors is a blow. That said, through new character Elliott we will get a brand new series of flashbacks (and flash-fowards?) and opportunities for redemption, and given Lost's producers ability for spinning a good yarn we're sure this side of the title should titillate, at least from a narrative standpoint.
"The sense of adventure and suspense that we strive for in the show is also captured in the Lost video game," Carlton Cuse, offers. "Ubisoft has done a fantastic job and come up with a game that is visually amazing and imaginative both on its own and as an extension of the world of the show."
Gameplay-wise, the jury is still well and truly out, with Ubisoft coy when it comes to the game's puzzles, battles and quests. Will the all important immersion of the gameplay itself be a side-show to the plot, or will Ubisoft Montreal successfully integrate interactive excellence in with the whole?
The island certainly looks the part from the footage we've seen, and we can't wait to throw ourselves into the interactive Lost world, no matter what secrets await come the end of the February.