August 8, 2007
Review By: Mr. Roboto
Developed by: Trip Media
Produced by: Phillips Media, Inc.
Platforms: CD-i, DOS\Windows, Macintosh
Key Cast Members:
Bonus CD Track Listing:
1. Burn:Cycle (Theme)
2. Karmic Church
4. System Software
5. Buddha’s Voice
6. Into The Televerse
7. Psychic Roulette
9. Kris VR
10. A Beautiful Relationship
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High
Overview: Originally released by Phillips for their CD-i CD interactive system, Burn:Cycle is a live-action interactive movie, a mash-up of Blade Runner and Johnny Menmonic, with some mini-games and puzzles thrown in. The movie/game follows Sol Cutter as he tries to remove a computer virus from his implant while the player controls some of his actions.
If you’re lucky enough to find a version with a bonus CD, you’ll have the extra treat of listening to the music of Simon Boswell, who not only does the soundtrack for Burn:Cycle but also Hardware and Hackers.
The Story: Sol Cutter is a small time data thief who gets his big chance. All he has to do is infiltrate Softech, download some files, sneak out, and get paid for his efforts. Piece of cake…
… except someone put arsenic-flavored icing on that cake. A sudden surge of data hits Sol upside his head like a brick, and left a nasty little going away present. A virus called Burn:Cycle is now in his neural implant. It’s dormant for now, but if Sol doesn’t get that virus out before the clock hits zero, he’ll get a headache no amount of aspirin or ibuprofen will ever cure. That’s assuming Sol manages to get out of Softech in one piece…
The countdown to Sol’s destruction begins from the word go, and all you have to save him is your mouse… and some stuff in your inventory, plus whatever stuff you can find along the way. The mouse cursor will change whenever a certain action is possible, and clicking will make Sol perform that action from moving around to shooting to using objects. Point-and-click action is also used in the mini-games you’ll play along the way.
Televerse, not cyberspace: Sooner or later, you’ll be jacked into the Televerse to find something to get the Burn:Cycle virus out. It operates much like real time in the game, except there’s a central location called The Pulse that you can instantly jump to since some locations in the Televerse don’t have exits.
Bad Graphics, Good Music: PC users may be in for a bit of a system shock when they first play Burn:Cycle, especially if they’re used the accelerated graphic capabilities of their nVidia or ATI Radeon cards. Burn:Cycle was originally ported to the PC during the twilight of DOS/Windows 3.1x. Had Phillips waited, they could have taken advantage of Windows 95’s Direct X drivers, giving them better graphics.
While the graphics leaves much to improve on, the music from the bonus CD gives those who can’t play the game on their NT-based systems an opportunity to experience the game’s environment from the audio side. The music, composed mostly by Simon Boswell, comes straight from the game and even features some dialog for good measure. My favorite track is number 10, “A Beautiful Relationship,” sounding like an electronic version of the saxophone-background music of private-eye fare while a woman who sounds like a prostitute speaks her mind (“Normally I’d like to keep my knees below my ears on a first date.”).
Conclusion: Burn:Cycle is a classic game that has earned its place along side the likes of Syndicate and Blade Runner for good reason. It would have easily been a ten-star game had the graphics been up to snuff. Still, having Burn:Cycle in your collection (as opposed to your neural implant) is a big win. And having the music CD with the game is a major find.