Welcome to the second part of our in-depth review of Stern's 24.
In this part we'll examine the rules, the objectives and the scoring, look at the display animations, the lighting and sound effects, the music and then bring you our summary and ratings on the overall game. This review is based on the current version of the software at the time of writing which is v1.4. An update has been expected for several weeks and when (or if) it arrives, it may address some of the issues we touch on here.
As we explained in the first part of this review, the TV series 24 tells the story of a crisis with potentially devastating consequences played out over a 24 hour period and served up in pseudo-real time 1 hour long episodes. Each episode begins with an animation of the 24 logo, a catch-up on the story so far (if it's not episode 1), followed by the words "The following takes place between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m." or whatever the timespan happens to be.
The game also begins with those introductory words, starting the action at 6am.
Most seasons begin at different times with the first starting at midnight, the second at a more sensible 8am and the third at a positively leisurely 1pm. It is season 6 which begins at 6am and some of the game's references come from this season, while others are from seasons 1, 2, 4 and 5. Curiously though, the backglass artwork puts us back in season 2's timeframe with slightly different punctuation on the "AM".
Whatever the time, we are then presented with the introduction to our first storyline. This could be one of several chosen, seemingly, at random including a train explosion and bombers on buses in Los Angeles. Each is accompanied by a brief audio report explaining the situation.
So with the plot outlined, it's on with the game.
The overall objective of 24 is to complete the grid of inserts in the centre of the playfield. The grid is divided into four "files", each one relating to a particular feature in the game plus two wizard modes at the top.
As you progress through each of the four features and reach certain milestones, more and more inserts become lit. The inserts usually light from the top left corner, across the top row down to the bottom left corner and then across the bottom row, as seen in the 24 scenes folder. Most inserts are self explanatory such as locking a ball, starting multiball and scoring a jackpot. Others are rather more convoluted but will become clearer as we explain how the features work, and to help make things easier we'll show the point at which each insert becomes lit.
So, the game has begun, the ball is in the shooter lane and we're looking for the skill shot.
As the ball heads up the orbit lane, it triggers a rollover switch which closes the gate to stop the ball orbiting the lane completely and also scores our first points.
You may have noticed the font used for the current player's score is not the one usually employed for Stern games. Instead it's the kind of seven-segment display used in the 24 logo and whenever the current time is shown in the programme. This style of typeface is only used for the score. Whenever any significant points are scored, these values are shown in the more traditional bold sans serif font, as we shall see later.
The C-T-U lanes score 12,500 points each and are all switched off at the beginning of each ball.
Rolling through one of the lanes lights the corresponding insert and completing them all adds 1x to the end of ball bonus multiplier as well as scoring 100K.
There is another way to boost the bonus multiplier and that's through the random award given by the cell phone target when it's lit.
Back to the C-T-U rollovers though, and once the ball as passed through them it rolls into the pop bumpers.
Every time the ball scores a pop bumper hit, it scores the current bumper value and counts down the number of hits required to start the first of the four main features - the sniper.
The bumpers start at 3K per hit and the countdown starts at 60 for the first sniper multiball, increasing by 20 for each subsequent one.
Depending on the liveliness of the pop bumpers, you may be able to complete all 60 hits in one visit, or you may need to shoot the ball back into the pops for two or more goes. Each bumper hit is shown by a mini explosion randomly placed over the score with the points value in the centre.
When you are counting down hits, the two controlled gates above the C-T-U lanes remain closed, stopping any ball which is shot round the orbit and directing it back into the bumpers to help you complete the countdown. With no direct shot into the bumpers, it would be very difficult to get the required number of hits without the controlled gates to help you.
Whether it's done in one visit or several, eventually the countdown reaches zero and the build-up to sniper multiball moves on to the next stage - the hurry-up.
The tagline for the 24 game is "every second counts" and that is reflected in this first of two hurry-ups in the rules.
The sniper hurry-up give you an initial value of 500,000 points which starts to count down quite rapidly. The sniper is revealed in his lair and he fires of bursts of machine gun fire as a fire fight ensues and the hurry-up continues.
You have two ways to score the displayed points before they reaches their minimum value of 250K and time out.
The first, although it is not advertised, is to shoot the right ramp. This collects the hurry-up points and also adds 250K to the value. If it is lit, it will also lock the ball for suitcase multiball and serve up a new ball, in which case the countdown will pause until the first playfield switch (excluding the shooter lane and the right orbit) is triggered.
The second way is to shoot the sniper target at the end of the sniper lane. You'll need to do this eventually, so it's really a question of whether you prefer to collect some points from the right ramp and boost the value first, or just go straight for the sniper target as quickly as possible.
Don't leave it too long though, since the points reduce quite quickly and if you're not careful it will all be over with only 100K to console you.
Assuming you don't let that happen, hitting the sniper target collects the hurry-up points and starts sniper multiball. As we shall see shortly, the larger the hurry-up value, the more points you can score later on.
Sniper multiball is a two ball mode where your first task is to build the sniper value by making 15 more pop bumper hits.
Its initial value is 500K plus double your hurry-up score up to a maximum of 1.5 million. Each pop bumper hit scores an instant 25,000 and it increases the sniper value by 25,000.
During the build-up period, all the major shots are lit for regular jackpots. These score a fixed 100K points plus whatever else the shot may be lit for, and add 100K to the sniper value too.
Once the 15 pop bumper hits have been achieved without draining either ball, the sniper value can be collected at the sniper target.
Shoot the sniper target and you collect the sniper value. As before, the other major shots still score regular jackpots and boost the sniper value.
With the first sniper value collected, it's time to build towards the next one. So it's back to the pop bumpers with the base value the same as before - 500K plus double your hurry-up value. This time though, you need 20 pop bumper hits to light the sniper target and the value of each hit has risen to 30K which means 20 x 30K added to your base value for a maximum of 2.1 million points.
Once again, shoot the sniper target and collect your sniper points.
After collecting your second sniper value it's another visit to the pop bumpers and this time the number of hits goes up to 25 and the points value goes up to 35K per hit for a combined total of 2.375M.
But you can boost that value considerably by collecting regular jackpots on the loops and your original hurry-up value at the sniper. Both these not only score 100K or the hurry-up value immediately, they also boost the sniper jackpot by the same amount.
Collect a few of these and the third sniper soon climbs to quite a reasonable value.
Shooting the sniper target collects the third sniper value which is the key to unlocking the sniper super jackpot.
The sniper super jackpot is the sum of the three sniper values collected so far, making that initial hurry-up value you collected even more important than it already was.
The left ramp is the one with the super jackpot insert and it is now lit to collect the sniper super jackpot.
If you thought collecting the super jackpot was the end of sniper multiball you're in for a surprise, as it now moves on to the next stage - victory laps. The left and right orbit shots are lit for victory laps along with the sniper target.
You need to collect six victory laps to spell out S-N-I-P-E-R and complete this stage. Each letter scores an immediate 250K.
With all six letters completed, the final stage of sniper multiball is ready. The sniper shot is now lit for the sniper jackpot which is 3 million points more than the super jackpot.
Shoot the sniper target and you collect the sniper jackpot. Rather sneakily, the animation used for the sniper jackpot is actually the super jackpot one, with a quick change of title from "super" to "sniper" at the end of the sequence when no one's looking.
So there are seven stages to sniper multiball - collect the hurry-up, sniper value 1, sniper value 2, sniper value 3, super jackpot, victory laps and sniper jackpot.
After completing all those, it's back to building your first sniper value again which starts at 1.5M and you need 15 pop bumper hits at 25K a time. Jackpots on lit shots are up from 100K to 125K and add to your sniper value as before.
All this continues until you're down to one ball or fewer.
Sniper Multiball is one of the three multiball modes in 24. It is the first one you're introduced to, since all launched balls head for the pop bumpers which build towards sniper multiball. It isn't the most lucrative multiball mode though. That honour must go to suitcase nuke.
OK, so it's actually more like a briefcase than a suitcase but go with us on this one.
On default settings, suitcase multiball is an easy one to start. Although the right ramp feeds the suitcase locks, it is the left ramp which starts the suitcase lock sequence.
At the start of the game the left ramp's suitcase insert is lit. Shooting this lights the corresponding insert on the right ramp and causes the suitcase to open to accept balls.
The right ramp feeds the suitcase which locks balls whenever the green insert is lit and the suitcase is open.
The locks are usually physical unless a previous player has locked balls or a game was restarted before all the locked balls could be returned to the trough.
Suitcase multiball requires three balls to be shot up the right ramp and locked in the suitcase to build a nuclear bomb.
The first time you play suitcase multiball, the left ramp lights all three ball locks. For the second suitcase multiball you need to shoot the left ramp before each locking each ball and for subsequent multiballs you need to shoot the left ramp twice or more to light each lock.
The first ball locked represents the Plutonium, the first component in the bomb.
The second ball in the suitcase adds the trigger mechanism.
While the third and final ball adds the timer to complete the bomb and start suitcase multiball.
All three balls are released from the suitcase which then closes. If some of the locked balls were stolen by another player, any extra balls required are auto-launched from the shooter lane.
Like sniper multiball, suitcase is a multi-layered affair with a series of objectives to complete and many of the ideas work the same way as they do in sniper multiball.
The first task is to build up your suitcase super jackpot value.
You do this by shooting the six major shots which are flashing for jackpots. The jackpot values are relatively small, starting at 100K for the first time through suitcase multiball, increasing by 25K each subsequent time.
When a jackpot is collected, the shot remains flashing for further jackpots and doesn't extinguish.
Although the points award is displayed as 100K, it seems 125K is actually added to your score for regular jackpots as you can see above, and the quoted 100K is added to the super jackpot value.
Shoot the left ramp and apart from scoring another jackpot, the suitcase opens on the right ramp to re-lock balls.
All major shots continue to score jackpots and boost the super jackpot value as long as two or more balls are in play. When you're ready, shoot the first ball into the suitcase to collect another jackpot (which really is 100K this time) and lock the ball.
As before, the remaining ball or balls can used to boost the super jackpot value before shooting the suitcase to lock the second ball and collect a double jackpot of 200K which is also added to the super jackpot value.
If you lost one of the three balls getting this far, locking ball two will light super jackpot on the left ramp. But if you still have all three balls in play, you can continue collecting jackpots with the third ball until you're ready to lock it in the suitcase. This scores a triple jackpot of 300K, adds 300K to the super jackpot and lights the super jackpot for collection on the left ramp.
So shoot the left ramp and pick up that super jackpot. Plus, you get another ball thrown into the mix to help you keep suitcase multiball going.
If you like the taste of a super jackpot, you'll be pleased to know you can collect two more of them on the left ramp in succession.
Three super jackpots seem like a pretty good payoff, but as with the sniper multiball, we're a long way from finished because it's time to celebrate your success with some victory laps.
The red inserts flash on the major shots to allow you to collect 250K victory laps. You need to collect six victory laps to complete this stage and move on to the finale of suitcase multiball. Each victory lap is, as with all the jackpots, greeted with a nuclear explosion and mushroom cloud.
Collect all six victory laps and nuke jackpot is lit. Shoot the suitcase to collect the big payoff.
Exactly how the nuke jackpot is calculated in not entirely clear but one possible explanation is you start with 50 million, add 125K for all the regular jackpots collected, add the three super jackpot values and finally add the six victory laps of 250K to get your nuke jackpot total.
Much smaller nuke jackpots have been reported so it's possible the base 50 million may be halved if you only locked two balls rather than all three to light your super jackpots.
What's clear is that the nuke jackpot eclipses just about every other award in 24, making this the one to go for in tournament play.
After collecting the nuke jackpot you're put back at the start of suitcase multiball where your super jackpot value is reset and you're collecting jackpots prior to locking balls back in the suitcase to light the super jackpot on the left ramp.
All values increase slightly for the second round of suitcase multiball. The super jackpot is up 50K to 550K, jackpots are 125K - and do actually score 125K - as well as adding 125K to the super jackpot value and victory laps go up to 275K each. The nuke jackpot base value also seems to rise from 50 million to 60 million points.
So suitcase multiball, like sniper multiball is a mode with several levels through which you need to progress to reach the ultimate goal. It trades sniper's hurry-up element for the ability to build the super and nuke jackpot values for as long as you're comfortable, before locking in those values and trying to collect the bigger prize.
As you would expect, the action all takes place around the safe house and in particular the saucer and the drop/standup targets at its base.
The safe house has been taken over by terrorists and the your task is to evacuate the good guys while taking out the baddies.
To get to the safe house you need to take down a certain number of terrorists and that means knocking down the drop targets in front of the house. Each time a drop target is knocked down the number of terrorist reduces by one and you score 125K points. As soon as either drop target is knocked down it pops back up again immediately.
Initially, just four terrorists have to be dispatched but that number increases by 4 each subsequent time you play the safe house feature. In this example, the left drop target is hit and the corresponding baddie takes one to the chest.
Continue shooting the drop targets and soon you've taken out all four terrorists to light the safe house.
When the safe house is lit, you need to shoot the saucer underneath the building. Doing so blows up the safe house but not before the hostages rush out in a way which looks very much like one of Stewie's sexy parties.
The explosion starts the second hurry-up in the game where you need to get the ball back in the smoking remains of the safe house's saucer before the time runs out.
You get 500,000 points but that's not the hurry up value. That's displayed a few seconds later and it starts at 400,000 for the first hurry-up, counting down to 150,000 before timing out and ending the feature.
Of course you don't want it to time out so, as with the sniper, you can either collect the hurry-up value and go into multiball straight away by shooting the safe house saucer, or shoot the drop targets to collect the current value.
Collecting the hurry up from the drops also resets it to start counting down again but now it's from a higher value than the original 400K. The first time it jumps to 650K and the second time (and thereafter) to 750K.
Combine this hurry up with suitcase and/or sniper multiballs and those 750K awards come thick and fast.
When you do shoot the safe house saucer you boost the countdown score by an extra 250K (up to a maximum of 750K) and collect it. That starts safe house multiball which is also called terrorist multiball in some displays.
Safe house multiball is then renamed terrorist multiball and it requires you to shoot drop targets (including the two front drop targets) to kill the required number of terrorists.
There are six terrorists to clear the first time through (eight the second, ten the third, etc) and each one scores the hurry-up value and adds the same points to the super jackpot value. It is also possible to grow the super jackpot by shooting the left and right orbits which score jackpots of 125K and add 125K to the super jackpot.
Soon enough the terrorist fall and the number remaining diminishes.
With all six terrorists killed, the safe house is now lit and the super jackpot value is locked in. Although it could be improved with orbit jackpot shots, getting a good initial hurry-up score really helps in making sure the super jackpot is worth a decent number of points.
Getting the ball in the safe house scores a safe house value of 375,000 x number of terrorists killed (which is six for the first round, eight for the second, ten for the third, etc equating to 2.25M, 3.00M, 3.75M, etc). In our examples below we'll see the scoring for the second time through multiball.
At this point the multiball starts to look more than a little familiar as now the left ramp is lit to collect the super jackpot value we accumulated at the start of terrorist multiball.
If it can, the game will also add another ball into the multiball melee when you collect the super jackpot.
You can only collect the one super jackpot in terrorist multiball before we move on to the next stage.
If you've been paying attention, you'll know what comes after the super jackpot. Yes, have a bonus multiplier if you said it's our old friend victory laps, because you're correct. There are six of them at 300K for the first time through terrorist multiball, increasing by 25K each time. They are collected by shooting the red flashing arrows on the major shots.
There are always six victory laps, so collect all of them and you're ready for the grand finale of terrorist multiball, the safe house jackpot.
Shoot into the safe house and it's all yours.
This appears to be made up from a base value of 500K plus all the points scored from killing the terrorists plus the points from the six victory laps. Since the number of terrorists, their value and the value of the victory laps increases each time you play terrorist multiball in the same game, the safe house jackpot will also grow each time.
After collecting the safe house jackpot it's back to picking off terrorists, with the number increased by two this time and the super jackpot reset to zero.
The game's integration with the TV series has been fairly tenuous up to this point but from now on fans of the show will start to see familiar plotlines and characters appearing.
At the start of every new season of 24 on TV, when they've got no "previously on 24" to recap, they use the phrase "events take place in real time" and that's the idea behind the 24 scenes.
There are four sets of six scenes, each set portraying part of the plot from one of the earlier seasons -1, 2, 4 or 5. Each scene is made up from a number of shots. The number of shots increases as the scene progresses.
OK, let's recap that. There are four sets of scenes, six scenes to a set and several shots to a scene.
Your task is to play each of the shots until the scene is completed and you do this with the help of these white 24 arrow inserts.
Most of the major shots and the safe house drop targets / standups have these 24 inserts and when they are lit they cause a shot from the current scene to be played on the display.
We've already experienced one of these shots right at the start of this review where we had a metro bus bomber or a train crash as our introduction to the game. Well, that's scene 1, shot 1.
Throughout the game, various 24 inserts will be lit to advance to the next shot or finish the current scene.
To start with it's mainly the left ramp, but any of the 24 inserts can be lit to advance the shot although only the left ramp is used to complete the scene. In addition, completing the C-H-L-O-E targets will advance to the next shot of the scene as long as you're not already on the last one.
The reason the left ramp is the only place to complete the scene is because there is a brief closing animation and points total at the end of each scene and to allow you to watch this, the ball is trapped by an up-post on the left ramp.
The shots and scenes continue to advance through most of the stages of the various multiballs though there appear to be times where there is just too much going on and the scenes seem to stop until things calm down.
It's worth noting here how all the shot animations throughout all the scenes are all hand-drawn and there is no digitised video in the game. Whether that was a cost issue or whether perhaps the clips weren't suitable, the game really benefits and the result is a set of nice clean animations actually designed to hold the text they carry.
Back to the 24 scenes and the aim is to complete six scenes and fill the progress grid. This is a relatively easy task since the orbits, ramps and drop targets you need to work through the 24 scenes are probably the same ones you need for jackpots, super jackpots and victory lap, so they will be completed anyway.
The points available are nothing special, starting at 100K per shot, increasing to 125K as you work through the scene and ending with a double points final scene. Later scenes have more shots and slightly higher scores but nothing significant.
There's a little humour in one of the scenes called "Dammit!", where each shot plays a number of different quotes of Jack saying "Dammit!". The scene otherwise advances as normal, so it's as much fun as a D'oh! Frenzy for example.
You may need to work a little to get all six scenes so you can complete the grid and light the extra ball, but it's just a matter of making fairly simple shots under no pressure and if you're going to be shooting for sniper, suitcase and safe house jackpots along the way, the scenes will be the least of your worries.
This is the part of the review where we spill the beans and tell you what happens when you complete all four progress grids.
Well, if you'd normally jump past this bit so it comes as a surprise when you get there, don't worry. In this version of the code there's no wizard mode to describe. The inserts pointing at the left ramp start to strobe but shooting it does nothing. There are no Save The President or Master Agent modes in there just yet.
So that's something for the next release of software.
A recent feature of most Stern games is the ability to multiply certain playfield shots to increase the value of features which use them. Spider-Man did this, Batman refined the process by allowing you choose when and which shots to multiply.
24 does a similar thing but in a slightly different way. It does it through the M-O-L-E standup targets between the two ramps.
A shot to either yellow standup target adds a letter to spell out M-O-L-E on the yellow inserts in front. There is no DMD animation to show your progress so it may come as a bit of surprise when they are completed.
With M-O-L-E spelled out on the playfield, the game's third and final hurry-up begins.
The mole value begins at 1,000,000 and counts down very quickly to 100,000. During this time you need to shoot the left ramp to collect the mole value and add a multiplier to a shot. The usual shots to receive multipliers are either the orbits or the sniper, although a couple of other shots can also be multiplied.
When a shot is multiplied, its associated mole insert lights up to let you know. Not all the major shots have mole x multiplier inserts - the left and right ramps don't, for instance - so the scoring doesn't become too imbalanced by their use.
As expected, this doubles the points scored on those shots. This is shown both as a higher score on the large score display, but it is also broken down on the left mini-score display.
You can collect multiple mole multipliers and they will either multiply a new shot or increase the multiplier value on an existing shot.
The best thing about the mole multipliers though, is the fact that once earned they carry over between balls and throughout the rest of the game. The worst is that you have no control over which shots are multiplied and fun as the orbits are, they rarely score very much.
The best mole multiplier seen so far would seem to be the sniper shot, since that will multiply the sniper jackpot. If the safe house mole multiplier is ever given (it wasn't in any games we played) then that would be equally useful. Given the potential size of the suitcase jackpot, omitting the multiplier from the right ramp/suitcase lock looks like a good move.
The M-O-L-E standups are one of three target banks in the game, so let's see what the others do.
The five targets on the left side of the playfield spell out Chloe's name on the inserts in front.
On default settings, although there is one target for each letter, hitting any of the five targets adds the next letter in the C-H-L-O-E sequence and scores 5K points.
Completing the sequence score 100K points and advances the current 24 scene. However, if you've completed all the shots in the scene except the last one, the C-H-L-O-E targets won't complete the scene for you. You'll still need to shoot the left ramp to do that.
At present, the target bank is somewhat under-used and has no associated dot matrix animations. Hopefully it will be better utilised in a later version of the software.
If the C-H-L-O-E targets only have a small role to play in the game, the crosshair targets on the other side of the playfield are background extras.
As with their counterparts, hitting any of the crosshair targets scores 25K and lights the next insert in sequence from top to bottom. When all three are lit, they score 125K and increase the value of the pop bumpers by 1K.
The pop bumpers are worth 3K per hit at the start and there is a maximum pop bumper value of 10K. Completing the crosshair targets after you reach that limit just scores the 125K points, although the display still says the pops value has grown.
The two inlane and the two outlanes all have rollover switches which light letters to complete C-E-L-L. As usual, the lit lanes can be changed with the flipper buttons.
Completing all four letters enables the cell phone target which is cunningly positioned just above the left outlane.
If you don't collect a lit cell phone you also get an audible warning that it is lit in the form of the classic CTU ring tone, as downloaded to numerous real life cell phones. This is sometime followed by Chloe saying "Hey, can someone get that?".
As an aside, we mentioned in part one of this review how horizontally flipping images is usually a bad idea when applied to faces. Well, the same is true for cell phones when the numbers end up back-to-front.
The cell phone target is the one which gives (semi) random awards. The range of goodies given out seemed fairly limited in this version of software, consisting of just these five: 1M points, increasing the pop bumper value by 1K, increasing the bonus multiplier by 1X, lighting the extra ball at the sniper and lighting special at the safe house.
Collecting the cell phone award gets Chloe to answer the phone and say one of these quotes: "This is Chloe", "This is Chloe O'Brian", "Chloe O'Brian" or just "O'Brian".
A lit cell phone target holds between balls but you cannot stack multiple cell phone awards, so lighting it when it is already lit is a waste.
The positioning of the cell phone target makes it a relatively dangerous shot and only the possibility of lighting the extra ball or the special makes it even worth considering.
The red arrow inserts used to score jackpots and victory laps during multiball also have a more mundane use during regular gameplay.
One of the red arrows in always lit and shooting it confiscates a gun from the baddies.
The number builds throughout the ball but resets at the start of each new ball or extra ball. The value of the confiscated guns starts at 75,000 and increases by 12,500 for each gun confiscated up to a maximum value of 250,000.
Although the display doesn't show it, any guns confiscated on shots where there's a mole multiplier also get multiplied, regardless of the 250K limit.
The confiscated guns are given a very low priority when it comes to the dot matrix display, meaning they are nearly always over-ridden by more important animations showing other scores made at the same time.
During multiball especially, guns can be confiscated quite rapidly and it often comes as a surprise to find out how many you confiscated at the end of the ball.
Confiscating guns is a purely about scoring points at the moment and there's no gun frenzy or target level to reach which triggers another feature.
Just above the right outlane is a way to avoid certain death from draining, in the form of the escape lane.
At the moment the escape lane is another of those features to be fully implemented in later software. Any ball rolling through here into the shooter lane is automatically shot back up to the top rollover lanes. There have been reports of balls being held here during multiball but that's not something we've seen ourselves and although it has its own insert, it is always lit and there's nothing to enable it for some extra feature.
There are two ways to light the extra ball. The first is by completing six 24 scenes.
It's possible this number might increase if an excessive number of extra balls are collected in order to meet the percentage of extra balls awarded as set in the menus. It's a bit naughty as it says an extra ball is awarded after six scenes where really it means the extra ball is lit, not awarded.
The other way is from the cell phone award as shown above.
The animation for the extra ball is nicely done and shows digital characters raining down, forming the word "extra ball".
The special is a regular feature of all Stern games, and in 24 it's lit by the cell phone award as we saw earlier and collected at the safe house saucer.
The display shows a hand grenade thrown into frame. It can only be a matter of time before it goes off.
It's not an easy shot at the best of times but with special lit, shoot the safe house and win a free game. Someone (it doesn't look like Jack) makes a dive for cover as the grenade's explosion takes out another of the baddies.
As night follows day, the ball must eventually drain and it's time for the end-of-ball bonus.
The first element of the bonus is a fixed value based on the ball number. It is worked out as 125,000 multiplied by the ball number, including any extra balls, which seems to be quite standard on recent Stern games.
The second part of the bonus takes account of how many terrorists you have killed in the build-up to safe house/terrorist multiball. This is cumulative throughout the game, so it will only increase with each ball.
The value is simply 2,500 points per terrorist killed.
The third element is the number of guns confiscated. We said above it is often surprising how many guns had been collected and this is the point where you see the tally.
Again, it's a easy calculation. Each gun is worth 5,000 points.
Finally we include the bonus multiplier - that's the one collected from the C-T-U lanes and from the cell phone award. The number below the multiplier is the pre-multiplied bonus.
The multiplied total is shown in the next frame.
As with some other recent Stern games which use the split screen scoring system, if you end up with a high score you won't find out your score until you've entered your initials which is irritating in regular play and infuriating during tournament play.
The match sequence at the end of the game is a copy of the 24 title sequence seen at the start of the show, but instead of resolving to the numbers "24", it displays the match numbers.
The sound which accompanies the animation is similar to the one used in the TV series, but different enough to be noticeable. Perhaps the original was just that little bit too long to be used in a match sequence.
As the game comes to the end, so does our look at the game's rules and it's time to examine the game's others facets starting with the something something we've shown a lot of in the section above - the dot matrix display effects.
We noted earlier how 24 eschews the use of sampled video clips in favour of custom animations and how that benefits the game.
The TV show isn't full of obvious clips and much of what's available takes place in semi-darkness, while the rules require lots of text to be shown without continually stopping the ball to do it. So animations are definitely the better way to go in this instance.
There are lots of explosions in 24, from the metro buss bomber at the start, to the safe house destruction, through to numerous nuclear bombs during suitcase nuke multiball.
These fireballs and clouds of smoke are good demonstrations of the multiple shades now possible with the Stern SAM system, even allowing a faint wisp of smoke to rise from the remains of the safe house.
The animations are universally competent and effective with nuke jackpot having the impact needed for such a large score and good integration of the theme throughout.
The use of the 24-style font for the scores seems like a good idea but unfortunately it doesn't have the clarity or impact to be used over more complex backgrounds in the way the standard bold font does, so it's soon abandoned in all the other displays.
Adding the multiplier in the mini score window is welcomed although there are a few instances where the line becomes too long and flows off the left hand side of the display. We'd still like to see a "+" added as a prefix to the awards to differentiate them from the scores.
There are only two real characters from the show in the pinball - Jack and Chloe - and with Kiefer Sutherland not doing any custom speech for the game, it falls to Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe to guide us.
Much of the ruleset is self-explanatory to some degree and doesn't get any audible description. What help there is often comes from the display rather than the audio apart from the occasional "shoot the safe house" or "shoot the sniper".
Chloe announces all the jackpots and super jackpots with about as much enthusiasm as her character can muster which, if you've seen the series, isn't a great deal.
More interaction and encouragement would help although excessive use of speech calls could become irritating unless there was a good variety of ways to say the same thing and Chloe doesn't have the most melodious voice in the world either. One rather strange voice call from Chloe is during suitcase multiball when she shouts out "KABOOM!" in a rather gleeful way as the nuclear device they've been trying to contain finally explodes.
Jack's appearances in the game are largely restricted to the 24 scenes. Since each one is based on events from the TV series, there are usually plenty of quotes to be taken out of the show to use in the game. They generally involve a lot of shouting and add some urgency to the game. Ironically though, they are used in the 24 scenes which are not timed and where every second doesn't in fact count. Still, it's good to hear Jack in the game.
There are some other characters who speak in the game such as the radio/TV news reporter who sets up the first scene and a Middle-Eastern terrorist who is "interrogated" to find out where Marwan is, but it's mainly Chloe and Jack.
With an overall lack of descriptive speech, there's plenty of space for sound effects and 24 does very well in this regard. The three multiballs are the focus of the effects which means lots of shooting and detonations, and the sound effects don't disappoint here. The 24 scenes are similarly well accompanied to capture the atmosphere of each one.
It's really only the playfield standup targets which could do with a boost and that will hopefully come when they play a more important role in the game in a later upgrade.
Musically, 24 is a tough one to work on. The TV series doesn't have a main theme and all of Sean Callery's original score could, without demeaning it, be described as incidental music. While that leaves the door open to the game's composer to come up with some original music, anything which stands out too much would be out of keeping with the license.
So there's nothing you'll be humming as you walk away from the game.
The main theme we brought you in the first part didn't stand on its own too well, but it's a reasonable if unexceptional backing track to the action in the game. Some of the other themes are better but unfortunately tend to be drowned out by all the explosive effects and mechanical noise in the game. That's on default settings, so perhaps with a higher music volume and a greater overall audio level, you'll get to appreciate it more.
Even so, we'd have liked to heard something a little more distinctive and memorable, even if it's not 100% true to the license.
Here's one of the other music tracks from the game so you can judge for yourself.
Get the Flash Player to hear this audio clip.
As with the music, although 24 has a stylised look and feel to it, there's little iconic or immediately identifiable about it which translates well to a pinball. Character arrive, die and come back from the dead with alarming regularity and while there are regulars who manage not to die for several seasons, it's only Jack, Kim his daughter and Tony Almeida from season one who are still around in the current seventh season.
Chloe is one of the longer serving cast members and her close professional relationship with Jack makes her a good choice to accompany him in this game and on the artwork.
The translite montage is a somewhat cluttered but there's a lot to cram in there - characters, logos, interiors, exteriors, taglines, explosions and plot references. It's probably too much and a slightly simpler, cleaner version would be preferable.
Like, say, this...
The cabinet keeps it simple with just the foreground elements - Jack, Chloe and the 24 logo with the CTU logo in the midground and the CTU control room as the background. The sepia faces do work, both in tieing them to the logo's colours and in bringing them forward from the background. They're not the best portraits but they're not unpleasant in any way either and they did flip the phone's keypad this time.
As a package it's not going to win any awards, but it's perfectly acceptable and conveys the theme well.
On the playfield the dominating element is the group of four progress grids running up the centre. A new player will look to them for guidance about what to shoot for and will pick up on the fact that each folder's inserts are a different colour: white for safe house, yellow for suitcase nuke, red for sniper and blue for 24 scenes.
So it's a case of shooting the white arrows to advance the white safe house grid, red ones for the red sniper grid and so on, is it? Actually, no it's not. White arrows advance the blue 24 scenes, red arrows don't advance any of them, yellow inserts are the mole multiplier, not the suitcase and so on.
While other games promote colour coding as a way to link inserts to features, 24's insert colours have very little relation to the features they advance. At least the locks are green, the extra ball orange and the special red.
The artwork in the lower quarter of the playfield is actually surprisingly nice. The 24 logo sits happily inside the CTU one and the LA skyline works well as a device on which to sit everything.
Further up the playfield, the profusion of stand-alone and grouped inserts squeezed into the space above the four progress grids leaves little room for subtlety. There are a few flame trails to point out the shots but it's mainly functional with a mixture of motifs for the different shots such as maps, roads, bullet holes and explosions.
Although the 24 playfield is generally well illuminated, there are a few darker areas where the layout doesn't allow for any suitable lamps to be installed.
The right orbit entrance and sniper lane, for example, can appear rather muted while the base of the safe house could also do with lifting, either by some internal lighting or from a carefully placed spotlamp.
The other dark area is between the flippers where the lamps in the clear plastic inlane ball guides do their best, but their reach only goes so far and the lift they give to dark artwork is only modest.
One other feature where the game's lighting needs to work hand-in-hand with the playfield artwork is the two front drop targets. The designers of Cactus Canyon knew the problem of making the pop-up targets visible against the background artwork and they experimented with illuminated semi-transparent yellow plastic for the bad guy targets before deciding they weren't sufficiently strong and changing to solid yellow.
24 uses black drop targets which have a tendency to blend into the playfield art.
Home users could perhaps add some powerful white LEDs to replace the standard 44 lamps illuminating the two white 24 arrows, spilling some of the light onto the targets. One other idea for home owners - apart from replacing the helicopter and plane as we advised in part one - would be to upgrade the sniper, with another bright white LED to simulate the rifle flash as shots are fired. This would draw attention to what is otherwise an easily overlooked area.
That's not to say there's a shortage of flashers already in the game. The safe house has packed two of them inside and they do a competent, if not overly convincing, job of simulating the house blowing up.
There are good swirling flasher effects at the start of suitcase multiball and to accompany the more significant jackpot awards. Nuke jackpot is also a well executed little lighting effect sequence, making the hard work all the more enjoyable.
So we come towards the end of our in-depth review of 24 which means it's time to wrap up the preceding 13,129 words in a few paragraphs and give our overall ratings to the game.
24 is an interesting licence because, while it brings recognition and a framework to build a game around, its numerous storylines and characters could easily make it inaccessible to all but the most dedicated fans of the series.
To avoid this, the specific 24 references are mostly confined to the 24 scenes - the safe house, the suitcase nuke and the sniper being pretty generic concepts which require no familiarity with the show. If you haven't followed 24 from the start, some of the 24 scenes will be relatively meaningless but ultimately they're largely irrelevant to progressing through the game and add something for the fans without alienating everyone else.
The narrative places you in the field, helping Jack and liasing with Chloe. You take down terrorists, disable the sniper and help the story work through its various scenes towards what we hope is a happy conclusion. It becomes a little muddled at times though. When we come to suitcase nuke, it seems your task it to build and then detonate the bomb - the exact opposite of Jack's role in tracking and disabling it.
The layout pushes all the important action up at the top of the game, including some infuriatingly tricky shots such as the safe house and the sniper. As you would expect from the licence, accurate shooting and fast reactions are what it's all about.
There's a reasonable amount of flow to the game with the two ramps feeding the ball back to the flippers (unless they're lit to end a scene or lock a ball), but somehow it's never quite enough to start making them really fun. The orbits do actually allow the ball to complete the circuit on occasion but it would be nice to just be able to shoot ramps and loops to build up some speed and some combos without knowing the ball's going to be stopped any moment to start a feature.
The main toys in the game do their job well enough without adding any player interaction in the way the crane in Batman or the Ark in Indy do. The upside to this means if they break, it's no big deal and the gameplay is not affected in any way. The downside is they're really just expensive eye candy.
The rules for 24 take us a little further those in games like Batman and CSI, but it's not a quantum leap and, as of version 1.4, we're nowhere near the complexity of games like Lord Of The Rings or The Simpsons Pinball Party. In truth, we probably won't be in that kind of territory for years, if ever. The economics simply don't allow it.
24, like CSI is based around the three multiball modes. In CSI it was microscope, centrifuge and the skull. In 24 it's suitcase, sniper and safe house/terrorist, but whereas in CSI there was a certain feeling the the software designer was saying to themselves "now let's make them shoot, oh, I don't know.... the bullet standups", 24 has a more coherent feel to it. The progression sequence for each one could become repetitive but there are just enough variations in the latter stages of each to keep you on your toes and completing all three in a single game is certainly a challenge for all but the best players. It is achievable though.
What's lacking in 24 are any supporting rules or side features worth playing. There are no combos, no frenzy, no surprises to distract you. Outside the three multiballs, there's only the mole multiplier of any interest. The 24 modes could do this if they were expanded and diversified. It would bring them truly into the game rather than being mere background action, but it's quite a big change to make at this stage.
So what we have is a multiball-fest. Start them, combine them, multiply them, advance through them and keep the frenetic action going as long as you can.
Of course, no review of the rules would be complete without pointing out how the software is not yet "finished". There's some dispute about when (or if) a game is ever finished but on the basis of the two wizard mode inserts not having their respective features included, it has to be considered incomplete with version 1.4.
We've pointed out other areas where we would hope to see development - the C-H-L-O-E and crosshair standups, the escape lane and more cell phone awards for instance - and there are plenty of other ways the game could be made into a real classic. However, we also said that about Batman because it too had massive potential, but there's been no development on that to make it the game it could or should have been.
Consequently, in this review we've considered 24 as it is now, with only a slight nod to the potential.
To end this review we come to our ratings for the various different elements in the game. If you've read the whole review, first of all well done and secondly, none of these ratings should come as a surprise to you as they only support what's been written above.
Don't worry if they don't match your own personal opinions. They're only that - personal opinions - and we're bound to give different weightings to the various features.
Total score: 56.5 out of 70
Remember, these are proper marks out of 10 for each element of the game, so a rating of 8 means 24 is 80% as good as the best ever game in that category. No game is ever going to get 10 in every or indeed in many categories.
The rankings are totally subjective and are included only as a guide. Feel free to disagree with them.
If you jumped straight here, please go back and read the full review to see whether you agree with them and if you put the same significance on certain features.
Finally, a big thank you to the good folks at Electrocoin for their assistance and hospitality.
With that we end this in-depth review of 24. Thank you for reading it and we'll be back soon with another in-depth review. Next time it's the turn of Stern's new NBA game.