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Clock Tower 3 Review
game: Clock Tower 3
four star
posted by: Eric Qualls
publisher: Capcom
date posted: 09:10 AM Sat Apr 19th, 2003
last revision: 07:42 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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Survival horror fans, listen up: There is a new game out that you need to play. Even though you have probably heard that the first games in the Clock Tower series were steaming piles, don\'t cast Clock Tower 3 aside just yet. It packs unique gameplay elements that make it very different from other survival horror games, plus it has a fantastic story told through Hollywood-quality cinema sequences. If you\'re tired of blasting zombies and have taken more trips through the hellhole that is the town of Silent Hill than you\'d care to mention, give Clock Tower 3 a chance. You won\'t regret it.

The story in Clock Tower 3 follows a young girl named Alyssa Hamilton after she receives a letter from her mother telling her to go into hiding and to not return home no matter what. As any teenager would do, Alyssa returns home from boarding school to find out what is wrong and is thrust into an adventure where she finds herself traveling to different time periods in London in order to discover her family history, stopping every so often to confront a deranged serial killer. That is the most basic description of the story, but rest assured, there are plenty of twists and interesting things to see.

What sets Clock Tower 3 apart from other games in the genre is the gameplay itself. First of all, Clock Tower 3 uses a Fear Gauge instead of the standard health bar. When Alyssa is calm, she can run and hide and do things normally and it takes a few hits from a killer to actually do her in. When she becomes afraid, she stumbles around and becomes hard to control. If Alyssa\'s Fear Gauge is completely full then it only takes one shot from a serial killer before its game over. The Fear Gauge is a great idea and actually does a pretty good job of showing not only how afraid Alyssa is, but how scared I am while I\'m playing it.

The second difference is that there are only two different types of enemies. Roaming each level are the ghosts of recently deceased people that are in limbo because they lost a sentimental item that you have to return to their body so that they can be at peace. These ghosts are more annoying than anything else and can\'t really do too much damage to you. The other enemy in each level is the serial killer. There are six of them in the game and they tend to pop out when you least expect it. These guys are the bosses of each level and can only be defeated once you have solved all of the level\'s puzzles, but they will appear several times during a level and scare the crap out of you.

Dealing with the serial killers is no easy task. You can\'t fight back until you have solved all of the puzzles in the level, so when you are confronted by a killer before then your only choice is to run and hide. There are several points in each level that serve as hiding spots that allow you to elude the killer for a little while. It is pretty weird when a killer can be hot on your heels only to become suddenly confused when you duck into hiding even though he saw you do it. This isn\'t realistic, but it didn\'t ruin the experience for me. Once you have completed the puzzles in a level and can finally start fighting the level\'s boss, and the gameplay changes a little bit. The fear meter is replaced by a standard health gauge and Alyssa is given a special bow and arrows that you have to charge up in order to do maximum damage. You can\'t move while the arrow is charging and you can\'t change your aim either, but once you figure out the pattern that the killers all use it is fairly smooth sailing.

Unlike earlier Clock Tower games that used a point and click interface, CT3 uses the standard third person perspective and fixed camera angles that other survival horror games use. Most of the time the camera angles are just fine and traveling from room to room won\'t be much or a problem for veterans of this type of game. It is a fun experience and is very different from the other games in the genre, but it could have been better. It is entirely worth it, though, as the story and accompanying cinema sequences are enough to warrant struggling through any shortcomings in the gameplay. The game will only take you about five or six hours to complete, but like I said, it is worth it if you\'re a fan of survival horror games.

Clock Tower 3 is also one of the scariest and most disturbing games I have played. It has its share of jump-out-and-say-boo moments, but it is also frightening due to its extreme realism. CT3 features some of the most realistic depictions of murder that have ever appeared in a video game. The blood looks like blood and when a killers axe hacks into the body of one of his victims, it looks entirely realistic. Another thing that makes Clock Tower 3 scarier than other games is that there isn\'t really any escaping from the killers. Sure you can hide, but eventually they\'ll find you. You can\'t just run to the nearest doorway and load the nearest room to escape (ala Resident Evil) because your enemy will just crash through and keep coming at you. The murderer is hungry for blood and when he isn\'t attacking you he is making you watch him kill someone else. This is disturbing stuff, but is very cool to watch all the same.

Graphically, Clock Tower 3 looks very good. The environments are suitably dirty and gritty and look like you\'d imagine London would look in the different time periods. The character models are nicely detailed and the animation is very smooth. The way Alyssa walks or stumbles when she is frightened is very realistic and it is something that you will notice since it is so different from what we usually see in this genre. When Alyssa\'s fear gauge is full, a motion blur effect appears on screen and it goes a long way towards making the game even scarier. Like I said above, the gore is awesome looking and completes a great visual package.

The cinema sequences are simply amazing to watch as they seem more like a movie rather than a video game. The lighting, camera work, and pacing of each scene is head and shoulders above just about everything else in not only the survival horror genre, but in video games in general. I know I keep saying this, but this game is worth playing through just to experience the story.

The sound in Clock Tower 3 is every bit as good. The voice acting is perfect and the voices of the six killers will make your skin crawl. There isn\'t much music in the game but what is there is well suited to the action on screen. The sound effects are everything you\'d expect and things like cans rattling on the street or glass breaking as you stroll down an otherwise silent alleyway will make you jump every time.

If you are one of those people that complain and say things like \"I like games, not interactive movies\" you might not like CT3 too much. All I have to say to you is that maybe, just maybe, games can actually try and feature a compelling narrative and that not all games have to be 100% action. Grow up, learn some patience, and realize that having lots of different types of games around is a good thing. And don\'t say you haven\'t been warned.

Overall, Clock Tower 3 is a lot better than I expected it to be and fans of survival horror games definitely need to give it a chance. I\'m a huge fan or horror movies, so the blood and guts in CT3 didn\'t bother me too much, but if you are squeamish you might not want to play it. It really is that disturbing. The game can be pretty difficult, especially on the later levels, but it isn\'t anything too impossible to overcome. It will only take about five or six hours to complete your first time through, though, so Clock Tower 3 is a game you should rent before you decide to buy it. CT3 is an excellent game that makes the future of the series look very bright indeed.