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The exotic and fabled European Orient Express is about to begin its last trip through a world of peace. It's the eve of World War I and this wood and iron train, one of the last of its kind, is about to embark on a journey that will take you from Paris to Constantinople with stops at Strausbourg, Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade along the route.
The time is mid-1914. You've received an urgent enigmatic message from your friend, Tyler Whitney, to join him on this particular journey of the Orient Express. Intrigued, but without a clue as to why your presence has been requested, you acquiesce and board the train in Paris. Your name is Robert Cath, a physician from America, and you've just entered a world filled with political agendas, romance, spies, deceit, treachery, adventure, surprises, secrets and murder.
Smoking Car Productions and designer Jordan Mechner (of Prince of Persia fame) present The Last Express, an animated mystery of intrigue and suspense that takes place in a real time and place, pre-WWI Europe. With emotions running high throughout Europe and the world poised on the brink of catastrophe, your character takes his place among 35 substantial characters from various countries and walks of life.
In this somewhat non-linear adventure, your actions dictate how the story unfolds. After you achieve the first task, finding your friend, the story can take numerous paths depending on where you explore, what you uncover and those you talk to. Using an inventory that fills up as you explore, you piece together clues, analyze hints, interact with characters, solve puzzles, discover secrets, hide, search and spy as you delve into the mystery that unravels as the story progresses.
Movement in The Last Express is effected through onscreen icons and a "smart" cursor that changes to indicate when certain actions can occur. The human animation is built entirely on motion-capture technology and events can unfold in completely different sequences with varied consequences depending on responses, actions and discoveries. Characters speak in native dialects and action takes place in real-time, thus you must integrate your characters' actions with those of life aboard the Orient Express.
The game includes a 10-minute film on The Making of The Last Express in which many of the designers and technical people involved explain the processes used in development. This hybrid has both MS-DOS and Windows 95 versions as well as the Macintosh version provided on the three CDs. A 46-page manual, viewed through Adobe Acrobat 4.0, is provided on the third CD (the printed documentation incorrectly infers it's the first CD).
The Last Express contains a rewind feature that allows you to turn back the hands of time to try a different course of action should you become lost or discouraged while adventuring and provides for up to six saved games at any one time. So, whether you're hobnobbing with the German industrialist, conversing with a Russian anarchist, plumbing the depths of the British spy's brain or simply pursuing a romantic interest, it's all aboard for The Last Express! ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide