Charlie continues his misadventures in terrible licensed games. For the record I did not ask him to do this and had I been aware of this behaviour beforehand I would have staged an intervention. Mike B
Charity shops sometimes cough up interesting games you wouldn’t have noticed before. Other times they barf out a pile of hot garbage. I admit I’m kind of fascinated by these finds, especially if I’ve never heard of them and even more if they’re based on a popular license.
The 24 DVD Board Game is a multi-episode interactive extravaganza where you take the roles of agents in the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU) for all the neo-con wet dreams, torture and dodgy acting that you can manage. Normally it would be that, this game is a lot less interesting, sadly.
For this game, I took the role of Scapa, who sounded like he would probably be the ‘bad boy’ of the bunch. Sadly I didn’t have time to grow a soul patch, but I did start alternating between shouting and whispering as often as possible. Jacob took Agent Landry, Vinnie was Agent Moray and Lee took Agent Parker. The main differences for these characters was the colour of their little plastic playing piece or “mover” as the DVD called it.
The parts were simplistic but had enough elements to sound like an actual board game. There was a basic board (carefully balanced on top of my copy of Scythe for this game), a series of squares where you would put the locations used in the episode. Oh yeah, there were multiple different missions to play in this game. As we’re entering a time with more app-driven games like Descent: Road to Legend and Mansions of Madness, it felt oddly familiar. We dealt out the episode one locations, shuffled the episode one clue cards, gathered alcohol and caffeine, then plunged in.
I will be spoiling the first “day” of 24: The DVD Board Game. This is mainly because no one should play it, so spoilers shouldn’t matter. There are two more and apparently there were plans for expansions with more “days” for people to play but they never came to light.
The board, seen here in action, is largely useless. It serves as a reminder of the locations you can go to on your turn, but there’s no set distance between them and you select from a menu of all the locations anyway. You place your mover on the location you’re going to and select it on the DVD screen.
So for instance the Omnidyne company location was where we had our first clue, after there was a murder in the office and some cagey workers. Agent Moray started us off by going there and seeing a primitive stealth puzzle where he used the directions on the DVD remote (my Xbone’s controller) to move a little green dot around a wireframe map. He failed and we realised that the route was exactly as it had been shown in the tutorial, it wouldn’t want him exploring out of that set pattern. I tried and beat it. We had clues to a couple of other places.
Some locations were false leads and each turn seemed to take a couple of hours on the 24 clock, which was counting down like it never did in the show. The 24 DVD Board Game surprised me by having Kiefer Sutherland lend his voice to the game, even though he sounded more tired than anything else. I did wonder if they’d cobbled together his words from episodes of the show to make his lines of dialogue here. Fans of the 24 drinking game will also be pleased to know there were a couple of cries of ‘dammit!’ from him.
Our leads took us to an industrial park where there was a map of a car park and a door. A camera moved back and forth in a prescribed pattern, something we’d dealt with before. The DVD technology failed us though as we had to pick the right time to move and whenever we ran over to the tyres, the cycle of the camera would reset and spot us. The interface waited until you hit a button and then would pause, think and load whichever success or failure animation you hit. Our agents all converged on the site and spent eleven hours trying to beat the animation cycle. ELEVEN HOURS. Admittedly it was in-game hours, but that’s almost half of the run time of the show. The Not-Chloe who was on the radio to us wanted us to sneak in because she didn’t want to have to get a warrant, but surely that would have been faster. Taking the place by force would have been far faster and more successful, especially set in the world of 24 where any amount of force is necessary.
We finally bested the camera animation and broke into the place, stealing some information. Lee chased a guy through a trainyard but shot and killed him, overzealous monster that he is. We were able to find another person and incapacitated him in a car park. Then the torture began because it’s not 24 without ‘justified’ torture of people. We had to balance the medication the guy had to keep him alert and not quite out of his mind. This was the next problem as there was a lot of tapping left and right on the remote to balance out the cocktail of drugs we had in his system. For the next several hours our agents all took turns failing to properly dose him and putting him into shock. We got the answers out of the guy, but I can only assume he died shortly afterwards from an overdose. Still, we knew where his people had stowed some stolen nukes and could carry on with the mission.
Prompted by the random message, I drew a clue card which mentioned that the man we’d caught and tortured might be plot-relevant. It wasn’t like there were any leads towards him ahead of time or other characters, so that was a big pile of nothing. Fortunately with two hours left, I managed to find the correct location, defuse the bomb (I had a clue card telling me the order of the wires to cut and the DVD told me the order just before I had to do it anyway). Then there was a code to decrypt and then another one. With the codes completed, planes were called in to blow up the boat which was stowing the stolen nukes. Justice had been done, despite a really ropey interface. It was a real, “America, fuck yeah!” moment.
I can see, after that mission, why people fear app-lead board games. There are the seeds of something tolerable in here and maybe if they tried it again now, they could make it better. The interface just wasn’t there with the remote or the technology of a DVD. This is why people fear the interaction between technology and a board game made manifest. Some vague semblance of something tolerable mixed with utter drek. I would say that out of all the charity shop licensed board games, this is the worst, only because Lost was playable and I ended up with a tin to keep my X-Wing Miniatures in afterwards. This doesn’t even have salvageable meeples for other games. If you see if in a charity shop, leave it on the shelf… maybe fling it into a fire and run away, but keep clear of those bastard security cameras.