Saturday, 23 October 2010

Game Of The Week: Professor Layton & The Lost Future (DS/DSi)

Everyone's favourite logical detective, Professor Hershel Layton returned in his third adventure on the Nintendo DS and DSi consoles this week.

Professor Layton & The Lost Future  sees the professor and his young apprentice, Luke Triton, in a battle to save future London from a major catastrophe after a time-travel experiment in the present goes badly wrong...

The Professor and Luke are amongst a select group of people who have been invited to witness a demonstration of Dr. Alain Stahngun's new Time Machine, during which, the Prime Minister of Britain volunteers to be the machine's first official Time Traveler.

However, the experiment does not go as expected and the machine is destroyed. Both Dr. Stahngun and The Prime Minister disappear. Over the next few weeks, there are several  newspaper reports concerning other missing scientists.

Some weeks later, Layton and Luke receive a letter which claims to have been written by Luke's future self. The letter directs the two to a clock shop in London. The pair decide to investigate.

Inside the clock shop, a strange elderly couple show the Professor and Luke another time machine, and the pair decide to activate it. After a bit of confusion, Layton and Luke find themselves in a drastically-changed London ten years from their present.

Here the pair meet future Luke, who explains that the Time Machine accident caused the future Professor Layton to change (becoming a ruthless criminal). Future Luke asks for help in setting the timeline straight again. The Professor promises to help the now grown-up Luke and embarks upon a finding a set of clues that can help them to save London.

Although Professor Layton & The Lost Future has many of the common features associated with the other games in the series - such as beautifully-rendered 2D cutscenes, a distinctive musical soundtrack, and of course, some mind-boggling brainteasers - it does contain some slight format changes, which helps to make the game even better than its predecessors.

Firstly, the puzzles now seem to build up in difficulty throughout the game, so the puzzles at the beginning are all very easy to solve and should not require any Hint Coins to be spent here. This is good as it allows players to get into the heart of the storyline more quickly than in the previous games.

Furthermore, the game's developers, Level 5 inc have now instituted a Super Hint function, which is very useful for those puzzles that just do not seem to have a recognisable answer, and it can stop the game from getting stale or frustrating.

 Although Super Hints only require two hint coins, they can only be purchased after the other three normal hints have been unlocked. This means that Super Hints essentially cost 5 hint coins each (one hint coin each for the three normal hints plus two extra coins).

Nevertheless, if you do manage to purchase a Super Hint, it will virtually solve whatever puzzle you are currently struggling with at the time. This allows younger players or people who are not overly adept at brainteasers the chance to move on to the puzzles that they can solve.

The puzzles themselves (over 165 of them in total) involve a lot of similar tasks as the other two games, from putting items in a particular sequence, arranging tiles to form an image, or spotting the 'Odd-One-Out' in a sequence of shapes, amongst others. However, although these types of puzzles have featured in the other Professor Layton games, they are given a refreshing new twist as part of the overall storyline, which makes them very interesting to solve.

Two minor disapointments with Professor Layton & The Lost Future are the set of minigames and Luke's voice.

As with the other games, this title features three different minigames for players to enjoy, including Luke's new pet parrot, a toy car with collectible track pieces, and picture books with missing stickers which the player has to locate throughout the game. Please note, that the solutions to ALL the latest Mini Games can be found by clicking HERE.

Although the new minigames make a welcome change from the annoying tea-drinking minigame in Professor Layton & Pandora's Box, which many fans of the series struggled to complete sucessfully, they do seem a bit too easy to complete for the game's numerous adult fans, which is a bit of a shame, but still does not affect the brilliance of the game as a whole.

Furthermore, Luke has gone all posh again in this game. Fans of the series will remember that Luke's voice in the very first game sounded like that of an upper-class public schoolboy. This was then changed to a rough cockney-sounding voice in the second game, (which incidentally is the voice which features in the new DVD feature film Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva.)

 Now it seems like Luke has been taking elocution lessons in the future because the voice of 'Future Luke' now matches that of the one used in Professor Layton and the Curious Village, dispite the fact that Young Luke still has the rough Cockney accent . Although this is only a minor part of the game, it still affects the overall continuity of the series, which can be very frustrating at times.

In conclusion, Professor Layton & The Lost Future is definitely a must-buy for existing fans of the series. It features more cutscenes and voice work and puzzles than ever before and is sure to keep you entertained for weeks to come. If you haven't tried a Professor Layton game yet, this game is certainly worth a try. Overall rating: 9/10.

Official E3 Debut Trailer [HD]

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