Fenimore Fillmore - The Westerner
Release date Spain: 12/2003
Release date Germany: 03/2004
Publisher Spain: Planet DeAgostini
Publisher Germany: Crimson Cow
Game language and manual: German
Homepage publisher German
Boxshots German version
USK: 6 years and up
A review by André 29th March 2004
(translated by slydos)
It's the year 1996: The cute cowboy Fenimore Fillmore makes his debut in the classic comic adventure "3 Skulls of the Toltecs". The game inspired me at that time with numerous puzzles, a nice story, a pleasant hero and beautiful cutscenes. The Spanish developers Revistronic succeeded in creating a perfectly beautiful adventure game, which is still worthwhile to play today. 3 Skulls rightfully received high ratings and the sales figures were o.k. too.
So I wondered, why they waited whole eight years to announce the successor The Westerner unexpectedly. It's new that our hero has changed into 3D-perspective - but to eliminate all fears at once: The Westerner stayed a classic comic adventure game. And what a comic adventure!
Fenimore stops his horse Ray at a farm and witnesses, that a few scoundrels want to take away the land from its owners, the Banister family, by intimidation. They work on behalf of the head rogue Starek, who wants to usurp their land.
Fenimore creeps near, in order to observe the events relatively inactive and powerless, when accident makes him a hero: Schlemiel as he is, a cactus pricks him while creeping around, and the bad guys discover him. Now Fenimore must act and with one precise shot he disables them all.
The danger seems to be banned for the time being, but now the expectations at the new hero Fenimore are grand of course. Because the obtrusive tyrants will come back and Fenimore is now the new friend to the Banisters, protector of the ranch and has to defeat the bad boys. After this fast-paced introduction the game begins. There are also some sub plots and tasks, so e.g. the attempt, to conquer the heart of the beautiful, pert teacher Rhiannon.
A love story as subplot is what I like to see every now and then and should nearly be obligatory in a good adventure game. Because it is in the best way suitable, to give us a better understanding of our character's human side through his advances (above all his small weaknesses). Whether he succeeds to win her heart and whether he can defeat Starek too, we experience in the course of the game.
What still looked somewhat infelicitous at the beginning of the millenium with Simon the Sorcerer 3D or Monkey Island 4, is today no more problem due to better technical possibilities: The makers of The Westener particularly pushed things and set new standards with the conversion of Fenimore from a two-dimensional comic hero to a 3D-character. Contrary to Guybrush or Simon, Fenimore lost graphically nothing of his naive charm, but rather looks in 3D now still more "approximate", than it was possible in the predecessor of 1996 with rough pixeled graphics in 2D. Gestures and mimic are above all very vividly shown and highly plastic with all characters as perfect as in an animated cartoon. That simply looks brilliant!
The predecessor was already colorful at that time and this remained preserved. The characters are well woven into the wonderful backgrounds, which are completely created in real time, following the moves of the player when running or looking to the right or left. Here real Comic Western atmosphere is so perfectly imparted, as not succeeded so far yet. The whole game comes across so real, as if you would play an animated cartoon. And thus The Westerner sets new standards at least in the 3D-comic-adventure-area!
Ex ante one thing: No, Fenimore is not mutated (as for instance George Stobbart to a crate-pushing Lara Croft). The Westerner proves like Runaway, Syberia and other adventures of the new generation once more how graphics were converted to date but without massive crate-pushing and action sequences. Quite the contrary I am convinced of the fact that most adventure gamers prefer classic adventure gameplay and are rather annoyed, if the hero pegs out at every corner. Instead I think that effective game design, quality and first of all originality are crucial to enjoy a game and thus for the success.
Nevertheless a few action sequences can be found in The Westerner. These are however relative simple in most cases and rather provide diversion than frustration. In this dose I can put up with such intermediate sequences.
Otherwise the Westerner's main emphasis is of course placed, as already in the predecessor, on the numerous classic puzzles. Even if the cute comic look implies almost a little bit the fact that it could be a game for the whole family, thus also for junior adventurers too, the puzzles disprove this impression fast. Because of the degree of difficulty The Westerner is clearly geared to the teenage and adult audience.
Nevertheless the puzzles mostly remain in a moderate, well solvable range and really make fun above all. They aren't not often extremely tricky and so you'll hardly get frustrated. For example one (as in the predecessor) must find out the correct multiple-choice-answer in a speech duel, in order to get ahead.
Fenimore's tasks don't have to be solved in a linear way. Many puzzles are classically object-oriented and one must use numerous items.
It's new that Fenimore must supply his horse Ray with carrots. In addition the horse possesses a food status-bar, which indicates when Ray is hungry. Our hero must cultivate the carrots or he just finds them somewhere around from time to time.
There are some classic, highly detailed Western locations, like farms, a school, a town etc., which Fenimore reaches by horse-riding on a map in bird's eye view. Each location still contains a lot more areas and single scenes for our hero to explore.
Value for Money
The trend, that emerges some two or three years ago with some developers, to create games with only a few hours continuing gameplay (I remember e.g. the ridiculous short "Road to India"), rather annoying the customers, fortunately belongs to the past, because here you get a lot of game 'for a fistful of dollars'. And in adddition the first part of Fenimore's adventures, 3 Skulls of the Toltecs, can be found on the second CD. This I call a really nice "bonus". So all of you who haven't played the 1st part yet, get the possibility to do so. 3 Skulls is likewise really recommendable and unfortunately no longer available for purchase - except as free give-away now.
Who has tried the adventure game Morpheus or even played it to the end, knows that a bad synchronisation can destroy the atmosphere of a whole game. So the otherwise absolute serious game causes again and again involuntary laughs.
Exactly the opposite with The Westerner, because one spares no efforts and selected the best dubbing actors. So the main roles for example were taken over by well-known German speakers (I must confess however that I am not very interested in movies and I didn't know them before unfortunately). The result succeeded in any case, because the salient voices fit outstanding and clearly underline the characters.
Likewise the music succeeded, and there are some very beautiful tracks, which are outstandingly attuned to the Western topic. They absolutely live up the complex cartoon game and give the impression, your're dealing with a film production like Disney.
In the past again and again especially the most well-known game-makers opposed to equip their three-dimensional protagonists with a mouse control and tormented the players with partial most abstruse keyboard instructions, which downright provoked typist's neuritis.
The Westerner proves one more time that a 3d-hero can be controlled trouble-free by mouse too. The control is conceivably simple, comparable with "classic" 2D-games.
Unfortunately our cowboy cannot run, which is sometimes a bit lengthy, but at least he walks without lags and doesn't bang against things.
When Fenimore is looking at an object, the camera zooms. However it needs getting used to a bit to return to normal view then.
The inventory is located at the top of the screen. After collecting a few objects, inventory space for the quite large icons doesn't suffice and one must scroll to the left or right.
There isn't much more to write about it. The controls are almost optimal up to mentioned trivia and I am rapt away. The points go to Fenimore!
The game generally runs quite smoothly, however there were technical problems on some computers with older graphic cards. In this case a simple download of the newest drivers finds remedy.
Left of the inventory you can find a button to the clear main menu, so that the keyboard becomes completely redundant. All important settings can be adjusted there like sub-titles, individual sound options etc..
The announcement of a sequel to 3 Skulls after eight years anyway came quite unexpectedly. I was still more surprised about the result. 3 Skulls of the Toltecs was of course awesome but with The Westerner Revistronic could still increase and created a nearly perfect adventure game, so that I asked myself, why the company produced a new game so late.
The Westerner offers a barrel of laughs, easygoing humor and an exciting plot, like I saw it last in Runaway. Of course there is also (again) a classically developing love story.
The dialogues are perfectly spoken by absolute professional speakers and when it comes to graphics in particular The Westerner sets new standards, because the game looks almost completely like a perfect 3D comic movie. The outstanding animations and the plasticity of the faces are particularly striking.
But graphical finesses and topicality are not mandatory for a good adventure game, still more important is atmosphere. The Westerner convinces here either through good humor and the charm of the individual characters as a whole, so that I am all around enthusiastic.
The whole spectacle is rounded off by a simple operated, almost optimal mouse control. So this sympathetic supergame, which will not only enthuse adventure fans, permits no other conclusion than a befitting rating within the highest range. Finally I hope we won't have to wait another eight years, until the third part of the Westerner or at least another new game by Revistronic.Rating: 90 %
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- Windows 95/98SE/ME/2000/XP
- Pentium III with 733 Mhz
- 128 MB RAM
- 32 MB 3D-graphic card
- 1 GB free space on hard disk
- Microsoft DirectX 8.1