It is Christmas Eve once again, and Detective Prick Peckard is enjoying a quick snooze in his secret hideout behind the janitor's office. He is not very happy when he is summoned to The Chief's office, and he is even less happy to learn that he is being sent into the BGCZ (Blue Grass Containment Zone). The BGCZ is a dangerous place that does not officially exist. Once Prick enters there, he will have no police back-up.
Apparently, there is a strange radio signal that is luring dangerous robots from all over the place into the BGCZ. But why? Who would go to such extremes? It's up to Prick Peckard to find out why, and to put an end to it. But in his twisted mind, he concocts a story in which his old friend Bill Chang (now missing for 10 years) has returned to take revenge on Prick for having him declared dead. He imagines that these poor robots are merely pawns in Bill's thirst for revenge. Everything that happens is made to fit into Prick's wild fantasy. All the way to the bitter end, he is so convinced that Bill is responsible, that he won't even consider any other possibility. So can Prick find the mysterious signal, and get home in time for Christmas, or will Bill succeed in his evil plans? Only time will tell.
I should point out that some people may be offended by this game, as there are comedy references to religion. It is meant to be taken lightly though. The game is controlled by the mouse, and uses a simple point-and-click interface. There are words at the top of the screen (move your mouse up there to see them) to Walk \\ Look \\ Touch \\ Talk etc. Click on Gear to see what inventory items you have. To move around, just click on an area of the screen and Prick will move there. There are also options to save a game, load a game, or quit, which are also shown at the top of the screen. The story is well written, with lots of witty dialogue, but sometimes you wish the long conversations would end so you can get on with the game. But this is just a minor detail. My only real complaint is the arcade sequence at the end. It is quite tricky, and not what I expect in an adventure game.
The graphics are bright and colourful, which makes the game fun to play. As people were talking to Prick, he kept going off into his own little world, and not paying any attention to what they were saying. You could tell when he was fantasising, as his comments are shown in a white box. I loved watching the snow fall outside the Ark. It added to the atmosphere, and made the game seem 'wintery'. Prick's shirt deserves a special mention. It was very amusing that a tough cop like Prick has such a festive shirt. If you look carefully, you will see some special cameo appearances from the likes of CP30, Number 5, and more!
MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS
Music is used with great effect. The game starts out with some festive Christmas music, which is fun to listen to. As the game progresses, and Prick uncovers more 'evidence', the music can become very dark and sinister. It is a good combination of 'fun' and 'scary'. There are no sound effects in this game, but none are really needed.
Wreck The Halls is a fun adventure game with lots of witty dialogue. The whole story was very well written. It made me laugh as Prick fantasised about who was behind the mysterious radio signal. Everything got twisted to fit in with his theory. Even when he is talking to people, he blanks out what they say, and gets lost in his own world. The game is easy to play, and is entirely mouse-driven. Some people may not like the references to religion, even though it is intended to be light-hearted. Graphics are crisp and clear, and I loved Prick's shirt!!! Music alternated between festive Christmas Carols, and creepy, scary tunes, depending on where you where in the game. All in all, a nice addition to the Barn Runner series.
Scott LeGere is a man who really listens to feedback for his games, and takes it to heart. After this game was released, Scott kindly created not one, but two patches for it. He really goes the extra mile to try and please everyone. Bless you Scott!
The first patch is a Director's Cut patch, and this extends the opening scene from 14 minutes to 23 minutes. The second patch allows you to bypass the tricky arcade sequence with the final shootout at end of the game.
These patches do not interfere with saved games. You can find them on the game page at TackyWorld Interactive here - http://www.barnrunner.com/xmas2.html or you can also find them on the Patches & Upgrades page here - http://www.barnrunner.com/patches.html
Review by: Frodo