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Old 07-12-2008, 08:52 AM   #1
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Default AG Community Playthrough #7: The Last Express

Start: Monday 14 July

The game consists of 3 CDs. For the first stopping point I suggest Epernay, and we can finish the first CD in the next section. Would Friday be okay?

For those of you who are playing The Last Express for the first time:

- I don't know about Vista, but the game should run fine in XP. If there's an error message when starting the game, simply ignore it.

- TLE does not have the usual adventure format and it's a good idea to read the manual.

- Some problems have more than one solution, escpecially in the first part of the game.

- The game is automatically saved. Instead of rewinding manually whenever the game ends prematurely, I recommend using the auto-rewind. It will take you to a point in time where the game is still winnable. And there are many ways to end the game. Be prepared to die, get arrested, leave the train, etcetera.

- You will have to fight four or five times. The fights are short and easy (except maybe the last one), it's mostly a matter of knowing where to put your cursor. People who hate action sequences can use the cheat. It's not in my manual, so here's what you do: Click on the egg clock to go to the clock screen and click on the clock to go back to the fight. Repeat until you've "won" the fight. A rather convoluted cheat, I must say... only slightly easier than the fight itself.

I am looking forward to replaying TLE once more and reading other people's comments. And maybe solving one or two puzzling questions that I haven't found answers to. It's a wonderfully immersive game and I hope everybody will love it as much as I do!
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Old 07-12-2008, 10:02 AM   #2
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I loaded this up on my Win98 and apart from an initial error message, it ran fine. I started a game just to get oriented. So far, I'm impressed with the music and the detail. I'm a little daunted by the clock and the fact that you only have 1 chance to redo a decision.
Spoiler:
I found Tyler's body. To dispose of it, I pushed it out of te window. Now Robert is covered in blood, but I don't seem to have the option of changing clothes (from Tyler's bag) or washing up. I guess I should find a different way to hide the body.
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:45 PM   #3
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I don't know if it will run for me on Vista x64. I'll look into it later, when I'm less busy.
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colpet View Post
I loaded this up on my Win98 and apart from an initial error message, it ran fine. I started a game just to get oriented. So far, I'm impressed with the music and the detail. I'm a little daunted by the clock and the fact that you only have 1 chance to redo a decision.
You mean you will lose your previously saved position when you go back in time? True, but you can [quoting the manual in the original release; it's not in the rerelease] extend the grace period indefinitely by clicking on the flashing egg icon with the right mouse button. This will give you more time to decide whether or not you want to keep the rewound game.

You can also have six different games running at the same time.
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:12 PM   #5
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Back when I first tried to play this I kept getting killed in the first @#%^&* fight and gave up in despair. I have the reflexes and hand eye coordination of a drunken slug. Hopefully I'll do better this time, but thanks for the cheat, it may be my only hope.
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Old 07-14-2008, 04:33 AM   #6
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Hit a snag in getting my copy back (the person I lent it to is away ) but hopefully I'll be able to resolve that and catch up with you all later.
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Old 07-14-2008, 03:09 PM   #7
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I think I've reached Epernay. The train isn't supposed to stop when you get there, right?

I can't make heads or tails of all the little details, to an even greater degree than most adventures. And the ticking clock is letting me know that if I don't find the little details I'm supposed to, bad stuff is going to happen and I just won't understand it. I'm pretty scared.
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Old 07-14-2008, 03:21 PM   #8
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Hey, is it just my imagination, or has Cath been reacting to things that didn't happen? Like, he mentioned a box and I only noticed the box afterwards.
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Old 07-14-2008, 03:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MoriartyL View Post
Hey, is it just my imagination, or has Cath been reacting to things that didn't happen? Like, he mentioned a box and I only noticed the box afterwards.
Boxes "happen"?

What box are you talking about? The one in Whitney's compartment?
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:05 AM   #10
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No what happens is a character seeing a box. And I had the feeling at other points that he was referring to things I was supposed to have walked in on but didn't. (Yeah, it's that box.)
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:06 AM   #11
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This is a community playthrough, right? It's not just me bumbling through by myself wishing I knew what the heck was going on? Where are you guys?
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Old 07-15-2008, 03:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoriartyL View Post
This is a community playthrough, right? It's not just me bumbling through by myself wishing I knew what the heck was going on? Where are you guys?
My main computer has a hick-up that I've been working on (apparently I can't get rid of my Quicktime . No matter how hard I try , it keeps refusing to be uninstalled). Anyhow, I should be able to get back to the game either tonight or tomorrow night.
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Old 07-15-2008, 04:39 AM   #13
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Few impressions of the opening from memory. (Still not having got my copy)

I like that all the spoken dialogue is in the original language (with subtitles if it's a language Cath knows) This works much better than having English with an accent to indicate when someone is speaking in a different language. I also like that you had to get close enough to hear the speech clearly before you could get translation. How did this work in copies for the non-English market?

The graphics worked well for me. What is the technique they used where they painted over live-action figures called? Despite the lack of detail I feel they work better than completely artificial character models.

The appeal of this game has always been that things go on whether you're there or not (whereas most games rely on player-generated triggers to advance the action) As I recall, I wasn't always clear where was a good place to be going all the time though, resulting in me wandering up and down the train on ocassion.
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Old 07-15-2008, 05:33 AM   #14
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The animation technique is called rotoscoping.

In concept, I really like how this game is striving for realism in every way. The world is exactly normal proportions for the real world, stepurhan pointed out a few other examples of how it's trying to be realistic, the setting and plot and characters are believable, the action is realistically awkward, you can do most of the things you could do in real life.

The one thing that bothers me is that I can't sit down in the dining car and order a meal. I feel really awkward just sitting there and staring at people, as if they don't notice I'm doing nothing but staring at them. If I were listening in between bites, it'd be so much more discreet.
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:42 PM   #15
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OK, first batch of comments.

First and foremost: what a wonderful game! I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. And it gets better every time you replay it, since you see little things you'd missed, and understand things better. As a matter of fact, I remember that I was very confused at first the first time around. I was unsure what I was supposed to do and what was going on. Obviously, it made more sense on subsequent playthroughs. As a matter of fact, there are lots of things whose significance you only realise when replaying the game, such as the picture of a tower that the game open on.

The graphic style is gorgeous, obviously. And it's not only about detail or nice colours – it's got style. The animations (or lack thereof) are really disconcerting at first (even when you've already played the game), but I got used to it after a few minutes.

Another thing that I really love is the amount of work that's been done to get things right, historically and culturally. Finally a game where the French are actually played by French actors and where the cultural details are right! (Yes, I'm looking at you, GK3 and Broken Sword.) You're probably missing that if you're not French, but the actress who plays the engineer's wife is particularly great; she really is the perfect embodiment of the useless, dumb, self-satisfied bourgeoise.

The historical mood is also perfectly captured. The newspaper is particularly interesting in that respect (and you get the new edition as the game progresses). You can feel (by reading it and in the train) that something is brewing – and yet the only thing people really seem to care about is the trial of Mme Caillaux (that the two girls actually discuss while having tea, debating whether she is some sort of Mme Bovary).

And finally, even though the plot might be somewhat confusing at first, the characterisation is top-notch. Already you can feel who the various characters are, why they must be on the train, and what role they may play later.

Ok, that's it for the general comments. I'll post some little interesting details I've noticed later.
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoriartyL View Post
I think I've reached Epernay. The train isn't supposed to stop when you get there, right?
Yes, it does stop, a few minutes after the conductor announces it (at 9:16, to be precise).
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:49 PM   #17
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All I saw was the word "Epernay" at the bottom of the screen. Did I not reach it, then?

I don't need to read the newspaper to eventually understand what's going on, do I?
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:13 PM   #18
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Is there an easy place to buy this in the UK? Even on Ebay it looks elusive...
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Old 07-15-2008, 03:26 PM   #19
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I have been playing the game for a bit and I'm not sure I like it. Within the first 5 minutes the game ended. I tried to tell the conductor about the body, but that doesn't work.
Spoiler:
It seems you have to dispose of the body and hide what happened. Why would you want to do that?


It is impossible to take notes as the dialogue happens far too quickly. I like the way the graphics are rendered, but I need to take notes about features that distiguish each character since some of the men look similar. There's so much conversation going on, and not enough time to write down the details. I started summarizing the newspaper articles, but after half an hour it just seemed like a waste of time.
I'm sure my approach to the game is wrong, and I need to take a different tact. I just hate not being able to write down what happens.
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:31 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoriartyL View Post
All I saw was the word "Epernay" at the bottom of the screen. Did I not reach it, then?
If it was on the screen, then yes, you're there. You should hear that the train isn't moving any more (but you can't get off, if that was your question).

Quote:
I don't need to read the newspaper to eventually understand what's going on, do I?
Let me put it this way: The Last Express is not about some guy who got killed by an old flame because he was seeing another woman. The game's plot is deeply tied to the historical context of the time. The crumbling of the old absolute monarchies in Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and the Ottoman empire; the lasting hatred between France and Germany, which were just looking for an excuse to go to war again; the rise of a new industrial bourgeoisie, rendered extremely rich and powerful by capitalism and the industrial revolution; the emergence of a class of urban, educated workers, organising themselves in unions and communist and socialist parties, with the help of some of the intellectual class; the rising nationalist tensions all over Europe, from Ireland to the Balkans: all these elements are somewhat relevant to the plot. So if you feel that you already know all of this, or if you think you can gather most of it from the conversations in the game, fine. Otherwise, read the paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colpet View Post
I have been playing the game for a bit and I'm not sure I like it. Within the first 5 minutes the game ended. I tried to tell the conductor about the body, but that doesn't work.
Spoiler:
It seems you have to dispose of the body and hide what happened. Why would you want to do that?
As you may or may not have gathered from the newspaper cutting Cath is carrying, he is wanted by the police for helping Irish nationalists. The last thing he wants is to draw attention to himself.

Quote:
It is impossible to take notes as the dialogue happens far too quickly. I like the way the graphics are rendered, but I need to take notes about features that distiguish each character since some of the men look similar. There's so much conversation going on, and not enough time to write down the details. I started summarizing the newspaper articles, but after half an hour it just seemed like a waste of time.
I'm sure my approach to the game is wrong, and I need to take a different tact. I just hate not being able to write down what happens.
Don't worry about understanding everything at first: just take some time to assess the general mood, and get some first impressions on the characters. Overhearing conversations is nice to get those impressions, but you don't need to actually remember anything. As for the (obviously important) conversations Cath has with some characters: as you've seen, most of them want something from him, so they'll come to him again in the future, with clearer demands. For the moment, your objectives are (1) not to get caught, (2) to get some general feel of the mood and types of characters and (3) to realise that Tyler was caught in something big, involving multiple parties. Understanding what exactly Tyler was working on, or getting to know the characters better, will come later, once the dust has settled. For the moment, just work on not getting caught.
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