Channel's Byzantium - the Betrayal
Byzantium - the Betrayal,
from Discovery Channel Multimedia and Interplay Productions, is the latest
title to tread the fine line between education and entertainment - and
the first title in the companies' "Planet Explorer" entertainment
line. Discovery Channel has successfully gone this way before, with its
"mind game," which was a very entertaining brain teaser.
In Byzantium, you
take the role of an American journalist who's invited by college friend
Emre Bahis to Turkey, supposedly to uncover an antiquities smuggling conspiracy
you think might cop you a Pulitzer prize (not a pullet surprise, which
might also have something to do with turkey - or at least chickens).
You show up in that
exotic locale, but instead of meeting your buddy you discover he's being
hunted and has gone on the lam, so you head out in search of him. Unfortunately,
one you're out on the trail you come across his dead body - and come to
the unpleasant realization that you're the one who's
now in danger.
What do you do? Well,
you're an investigative journalist, so you investigate.
The quest takes you
around Istanbul, researching the Ottoman empire (no, there are no footstools
here), digging up clues that you hope will lead you to the greatest story
of your career. Of course the downside is that you could also end up in
an early grave.
Byzantine: The Betrayal
is a "first person" game that uses complex 3D models for its
set pieces, combining them with full motion video and live actors. As
with other games, the environment is very photorealistic (in this case,
with shots of the real Istanbul), and you're given an excellent freedom
of movement. For instance, while standing in one spot, you can move your
mouse and pan 360 degrees around - and up and down - to examine where
When the cursor changes,
clicking the mouse button takes you to a new spot, where you should also
examine your surroundings (not only do you want to see where you are,
you want to cover your back!). The interface works well and lets you interact
with the environment in a quite natural manner.
are very good, and your interaction with other characters uses full motion
video. You choose a phrase from the selection offered, then watch and
listen as the character replies. All conversations are logged in your
notebook for future reference, which is great for those with particularly
The actors' ability
ranges from merely adequate to pretty good, and the music soundtrack is
first rate, though the dialogue echoes and fades in spots, which can be
a bit hard to hear.
You play the game
by pointing and clicking (surprise!), and the interface is intuitive and
works well. To move around, just pan the cursor and click where you want
to go. As hinted at above, the cursor changes to reflect navigable areas
and objects with which you can interact. For example, if you click on
an object and it can be picked up, it appears in your inventory box at
the bottom of the screen. Or, click on an item and then click it on what
or who you want to use it with, and it's applied.
Moving around the
game map is done by clicking on a postcard that shows known areas to which
you may travel.
Byzantine - the Betrayal
gives you a lot of stuff to do. Despite the story having a set path, there's
plenty of background for you to investigate and it fleshes out the details
- if you want (it isn't mandatory).
The story is good
on its own, as well as being educational, and will undoubtedly appeal
to both history and conspiracy buffs.
Be careful, though,
or you might learn something in the process.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think