The Answer to Everything

The Answer to Everything
Gaming on the Orient Express

Nick Bousfield | 25 Apr 2006 12:02
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Smoking Car Productions shut down, shelving their plans for further titles. Jordan Mechner wouldn't return to game design for another five years, when he agreed to work on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time for Ubisoft. Ironically, while receiving mass critical appeal, that game was also set to suffer from low sales and poor marketing, though thankfully not to the same degree. Since then, he has turned to filmmaking, producing the award-winning documentary Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story, filmed while he worked for Ubisoft, and has not made public any future plans regarding gaming. The Last Express is currently out of print, though copies can be acquired via eBay and similar channels. For the curious, the official site has been mirrored by one of the Smoking Car design team.

And that's where the journey ends. The Last Express could have been another Myst, a game capable of attracting gamers and non-gamers alike. Perhaps it could have joined Sam and Max or Broken Sword and become a classic of the genre. Either way, it did not deserve to become a footnote in gaming history. Even today, almost ten years after the game's completion, The Last Express still looks, sounds and plays as well as it did in 1997, offering the exact same level of immersion. There are relatively few titles one can say that about. Start up the game, and it's June 1914 all over again; at Paris, Gare de l'Est the journey is about to begin anew.

All aboard.

Nick Bousfield is a freelance writer who loves games, books, films, music and comics. He also loves being paid to write about them and harbors the crazy dream that one day he'll do it for a living.

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