Clive Barker’s Jericho – The “Firstborn” [RETRO-2007]

RETRO – Clive Barker is probably one of the most confident men in the world. His game is being released near such titles as Bioshock, Team Fortress 2, Quake Wars, and Crysis, and hoping that this game will be successful on the market will require a miracle. Well okay, we are talking about the master of horror, who has released several critically acclaimed movies, novels, and one horror fps (although this failed commercially).


Still, the master needed to develop a game that is relevant and can take on the competition. Also, Jericho needed to be an original horror FPS, one that no one has ever played. This was successfully done on some level with the freshly founded Mercury Steam. However, it is not a big bang as Undying was back in the day.

Clive Barkers Jericho 1

The brother does not like us…..

According to the game’s story, before creating Adam and Eve, God created a being called the “First Born.” This creature had more power than humanity and was neither, good or bad, a genderless being with terrifying qualities. The creator got scarred and plunged the Fist Born into the abyss. There the entity was supposed to suffer there for eternity. However, it tried to break free from its damnation multiple times, to destroy the favoured “brother” humanity. At first, only seven summers mages tried to keep the monster at bay. Over the centuries multiple teams of seven have gone to the city of Al-Khali to keep it from entering our bay.

From Roman warriors to World War II OSS agents have been sent to the city. These “commando” units have been able to successfully complete their missions, but none of them ever returned to their world, as the city’s walls have closed them and created a new sealed location to the city. The brave suffered eternally within the city walls and were tortured endlessly.
When a massive sandstorm engulfs Al Khali, and the population suddenly disappears, another team of seven is sent into the city, all of them have a unique ability. However, none of them knows what they have signed up for.

The depths of hell

Clive Barker has always been famous for his visual design in his movies, games and graphics novels. Jericho is not an exception of Mr Barker’s influence and design. Everywhere is the usual high amounts of blood, gore, and dirt, the monsters are both gruesome and terrifying at the same time – though not as a scary as I would have liked them to be. As the game encompasses multiple historical eras, I was expecting more variety in the level design.

Although there are World War II, Medieval, or Roman era locations, regarding visuals these levels are much more unified as the initial story led us to believe. I roamed dark, filthy, and blood covered ruins, catacombs, and other hellish places, but the level design felt a bit repetitive. Some levels felt well developed, and interesting, while others were uninspired and linear. All in all the world design is great, but Jericho does not reach Bioshock levels of quality.


Team Jericho, go!

The great feature of the game is something that we are used to in Ghost Recon games or WWII games. The squad is lead by Devin Ross captain; however, he dies at the beginning of the game (as this was spoiled in the demo of the game no big secret is revealed). However, his soul does not leave the earthly realm. He can jump into any of his squadmates body, and control them.

This method provides a good reason for the switching between NPCs within the context of the plot. It is hilarious that while Ross possesses the delinquent they still talk, and even to Ross. The banter is great, and sometimes even funny. One time when we own the lesbian commando member called Black, Delgado jokingly asks her: Hey Black how does it feel to finally have a man inside you?”. While we’re at the team dynamic, all of the members are richly detailed, and Barker’s influence can be felt with regards to the design of them.

Clive Barkers Jericho 4

Rainbow Seven?

As there are a lot of tactical FPS commando games, Jericho will have a hard time in this field also. The developers were able to solve the genre’s usual hiccups, but sadly not all of them. Which resulted in a few amateur problems, and while the switching between units is easy, I felt that dividing the team into two was pointless. When twelve angry monsters attack the team, it is annoying to search for the proper ally to fight them in the heat of battle. We can give out two types of orders to our commandos: “Stop, everybody gets to cover!” or “Follow me”.

This worked fine usually, but there were instances where our allies got lost or did not take cover at the right place (sometimes they did not even take cover and the enemy killed them). A few stupid moves were also done by my allies: Black, for instance, used to kill herself constantly by using her exploding rounds from the shotgun up close against monsters.
Our allies AI is okay, not too bad, however, the combat can be hectic, which results in us switching between characters. It can be quite annoying that sometimes all we have to do is revive teammates regularly, and because of this, the tactical element is botched. This feature should be buried to the deepest parts of Al Khali, next to Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter.

Clive Barkers Jericho 3

Psychic Squad Seven

Luckily as much as the team coordination is weak, the usage of different powers is much better. All of our allies have different abilities, which when used at the right time will allow us to kill an enemy with one shot. Abigail Black can fire a bullet, and we can guide that with slow motion (just like in Stranglehold), and we can headshot zombies shot after shot. Most of the times I would just use Abigail’s body to kill the enemies. Naturally, she is not effective against all of the monsters, so my other big favourite is Frank Delgado.

Frank’s right hand is possessed by a Fire Demon, which when released works as a seeker missile. His ability lets us take down monsters from the air or in hiding quickly and easily. However after a while, he needs the demon to return to his body, and only after a particular time can the demon be used. All of the characters’ special abilities have a cooldown, which means we cannot spam them constantly. This way the developers force us to switch between characters during the game

Every squad member has its own primary, and secondary abilities. These are unlocked to us gradually over the levels, but sometimes we are forced to use them to progress in a level. In one instance we have to use Billie Church to climb a wall to find a lever. In another occasion, we have to use Johnson’s telepathy to open a gate by possessing another creature. There was also a level where we had to use Delgado’s fire resistance.

Clive Barkers Jericho 6

Shader Modell 3.0 orgasm

While criticism can be level against most of the game, one part of it is amazing: The graphics. Jericho’s engine stands next to such great engines as Unreal III and Crysis. The monsters level of detail and our heroes is astonishing, and the environments are also well-done.

As this is a horror game, the depiction of monsters is usually done in the following way: Cover them with blood, and make them as disgusting as you can. Same goes for the locations, so those that are faint of heart should stay away from this game. Although the monsters while making you want to puke when seeing them, they are not scary. Jericho also fully supports Shader Modell 3.0 which might have caused some of the weird shining effects. At times the monsters looked cleans as hell.

Clive Barkers Jericho 7

Repetition is the key

So was Barker’s second FPS a groundbreaking new title? Eh while I enjoyed the game it was not as good as Undying. The action is repetitive and too linear: going from one room to another, while we kill everything in sight – just like in Painkiller, but this game had so much more potential. Luckily the interactive cutscenes were splendid, and provided depth to the story, however even with these; it lags behind Barker’s previous works.

The game’s weakest part is the AI or the total lack of it. Most monsters just rush you without taking cover, and even if they do take cover, they can be killed easily. Which is a shame as if the developers worked on this aspect more it would have been able to take on the competition.

All in all, Jericho is a fun horror FPS with a lot of psychic abilities, great graphics, and Barker’s style is still unbelievably fun to watch. However it lacks in several departments, and I thought that this would be an Undying quality game.

-BadSector- (2007)


+ Graphics are still surprisingly good
+ Interesting characters
+ A good horror ambiance by Barker


– Handling is a bit messy
– Can get tedious
– Story isn’t good

Publisher: Codemasters

Developer: Mercury Steam

Genres: horror, action

Publication: 2007

Clive Barker's Jericho

Gameplay - 7.2
Graphics - 8.6
Story - 7.6
Music/audio - 7.2
Ambience - 8.1



All in all Jericho is a fun horror FPS with a lot of psychic abilities, great graphics, and Barker’s style is still unbelievably fun to watch. However it lacks in several departments, and I thought that this will be an Undying  quality game.

User Rating: 4.15 ( 4 votes)

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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