Hopkins FBI is a very strange little game from England that’s virtually unknown in North America. This is a shame, for although it’s certainly not for everyone, it’s a twisted little gem that could be a real guilty pleasure for a lot of players.
Hopkins is a third-person point and click adventure. In form, content and visual style it is very much an adventure game version of a comic book. How much this idea appeals to you will very much affect how you react to the game.
The opening movie takes place at the electrocution of a notorious criminal. Amazingly, he seems to escape the execution unscathed! He escapes and disappears. The game begins with you, FBI Agent Hopkins, in his apartment.
The greatest thing about this game is its total dedication to its comic book roots. Each scene looks like a gorgeous, air-brushed comic page. I began this game after playing the original System Shock, and after spending weeks sneaking around in a cold black space station, the vibrancy of the colors in Hopkins nearly seared my corneas. This is not a complaint.
The cutscenes in the game are also very comic-book in style, and it should be said that they are chock-full of very gratuitous violence. This didn’t bother me (but then I clearly need counseling) but I know it’s a concern for some players. For example, the first crime Hopkins has to solve is a holdup at a bank. In the cutscene there is a very graphic close-up of a teller getting his head shot off at point-black range.
The interface of Hopkins is elegant and effective. It also hides offscreen until you need it, a feature I really appreciate. Why? Because it leaves the entire screen available for the gorgeous cartoon graphics. A simple right-click brings up the inventory screen whenever you want it. I wish more games worked this way!
To stay the story of Hopkins is convoluted, creepy and outrageous would be an understatement. Just like the graphics, the story is comic-book pulp. It’s dark, melodramatic and sensationalist. Again, from my point of view, these are NOT complaints! Even for a dark comic book, however, there are plot points in Hopkins that seriously push the envelope.
The puzzles in the game are pretty much of the inventory-fest variety. They are pretty logical for the most part, but there are a few head-scratchers as well, and many of them are VERY morbid.
About a third of the way through the game, the story takes a bizarre turn. I didn’t know if someone had slipped me mickey or what, as I stared stupidly at my computer screen. Even as I played through the sequence in question, I wasn’t sure if this was really part of a story that had just gotten a lot weirder, or if it was the longest and most complex Easter Egg of all time. By the time I got to the end of the game I realized it was the former.
It’s so off-the-wall I don’t want to spoil it for you, but let’s just say the plot of Hopkins FBI definitely wins the "Deranged Plot Seal of Approval."
This game is not terribly long, but it’s full of fun locations – the various urban locations early in the game, including a bank, a museum, an indoor swimming pool, and a movie theater; you also get to sneak around in the woods, a tropical island, and a Big Fat Secret Underwater Fortress. Whenever the game felt a little too strange or preposterous, the gorgeous graphics, with their high-gloss patina and vibrant palette (with a particularly pleasing emphasis on greens) would win me over again.
The game has an entertaining wall-to-wall rock soundtrack that’s very appealing. Luckily, there are options that allow you to adjust the volume levels between speech and music. It’s also got an entertaining map feature that allows you to watch Hopkins scoot around the city in his little red car.
Hopkins FBI is a British game that got virtually no distribution in North America. I recommend it to adventure players feel like something a bit different. It’s also available in Linux, which may be of interest to devotees of that alternate operating system.