Borrowed Time / Activision (1985)
|Who -- please, tell me who -- decided that reality
could best be emulated by choosing a palette black, white, cyan and purple?
||Ha! The game may be as
short as the reign of my platform's alleged dominance. but at least the colors rock!
|This has to be the cheeziest way to artificially
lengthen a game that I have ever been a witness to. Er, of. Whatever.
|It used the same engine as Tass Times in
1939. A rather quiet time for computer games. Yet this
time was famous for later inspiring many "hard-boiled" detective pieces. Since
DNA had not been invented yet it took real brains and hard work to solve crime. Luckily,
all we have to do now is get semen samples and then renegades go to jail, which is no
dount the most rewarding part of being a criminologist these days -- working with all the
sexual aftercrap. Funnily enough, the design of Borrowed Time
has a lot in common with putrid, sexual discharge.
The kind of garbage that goes on in Borrowed Time
is simply something that we wouldn't stand for in this day and age. At least, we wouldn't
pay for it. Actually, with the 'ship first & patch later' mentality the PC video game
market is now famous for there would probably BE a patch for the game to stop its one
tragic flaw from throwing the game down the endless staircase of suck.
See, if you're not solving the puzzles in the correct
order that Borrowed Time deigns, a bunch of thugs come out from the
shadows and blow your goddamn head off. Thus, as you might surmise, ending the game.
(Although in my attempts to be sarcastic I am reminded of at least two games: Legacy
of Kain & Scapeghost, that actually begin with their character's death. So
nevermind that, then.)
Borrowed Time is supposed to be the story
of a divorced, salty detective that discerns that his rogue's gallery has teamed up to
absolutely end him. Nothing particularly inventive, but then it is supposed to be a very
specific genre piece. The game pretty much has a basic two or three word parser, but it
never really gets in the way as you can click on items with your mouse in order to examine
them or add them to your inventory. It's the same engine used in Tass Times in
Tonetown. The graphics themselves are okay. The color scheme used is, of
course, a blot upon ones and zeroes.
The first few scenes of the game have you thinking that
you're playing something special. There is sufficient back-story, a ton of action, a
well-implemented parser... it's all good. As psyched as Borrowed Time
Player is at this point, he or she will attempt to explore the game's environs after
surviving the initial attack on Sam's (the game's protagonist) life. Hilarity ensues when
the player realizes that after a set amount of turns the thugs "catch up" to Sam
and shoot him dead. No opportunity exists for Sam to evade them.
That design decision, quite frankly, sucks. It's unfair.
It's unrealistic. It's a vapid, transparent attempt to cover the fact that the game is
laughably short and a horribly value for its money. It reeks of amateur hucksterism. It
set the industry back ten years. It took my first girlfriend's virginity. It has kept down
the Tesla exhibits at the Smithsonian. It organized the World Bank. It filled Steve
Carlton's head with inane, schizophrenic ramblings. It blew up the Challenger.
It's responsible for many of history's worst second-tier tragedies. Can the
"constantly die and restart" thing ever work right? Varicella
certainly made an attempt, but in doing so it provided some motivation to keep playing
through its sheer depth of character. You would also not constantly die simply because
"you took too long," which is the crux of the experience with Borrowed
Sometimes we get nostalgic about the games we used to
play. Sometimes we seek them out with a vengeance and believe that games which were older
were better. Any IF fan currently heckling all those kids playing Unreal
Tournament needs to sit down and play past the first couple of scenes in Borrowed
Time. Be sure to take a muscle relaxant beforehand, as otherwise the expression
of disgust will be permanently stuck on your face.
When it comes to computer games, older doesn't always
equal better. And that is the lesson that Borrowed Time teaches us.
9 / 10
I Hate Borrowed Time
April 14th, 2003
|I'm 30 years old and I wish I could forget this monumental absurd game.
Playing it was pure nightmare. Want to torture somebody? make'em play "Borrowed
Time"....The 80's created 2 forms of wasting your time: one was the Rubic's cube, the
other was Activision's "Borrowed Time". Simply hate that stupid game. I never
pass from the building where Sam, the private eye (the player) had his office at the
beginning of the game. No matter what I did I always got kill by the thug who follows you
around. Thank god now we have all kind of web sites dedicated to levels walk-thru's, FAQ,
cheat codes, tips, etc! As a matter of fact, maybe after all this years I search for the
Borrowed Time Walkthrough and finally finish that stupid game....revenge is gooood!
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