"I waited for this game for quite a while. But I absolutely refuse to begin this review in the same manner as every other review Iíve ever read for it. They all go along about the same thing: this game was announced before the PS2 was even announced, was in development for quite some time, blah blah blah. Yeah, it took a while to get here. And the end result wasnít as good as expected. Thatís the way it goes sometimes. So hereís a real introduction: Run Like Hell (RLH) is a third-person pe..."
I waited for this game for quite a while. But I absolutely refuse to begin this review in the same manner as every other review Iíve ever read for it. They all go along about the same thing: this game was announced before the PS2 was even announced, was in development for quite some time, blah blah blah. Yeah, it took a while to get here. And the end result wasnít as good as expected. Thatís the way it goes sometimes. So hereís a real introduction: Run Like Hell (RLH) is a third-person person action/survival-horror title for the PS2 that doesnít quite meet its goals. Itís not really all that scary, and the action isnít all that great. There. That wasnít so hard.
RLH> manages to escape the traditional survival-horror plot and chart some different waters than previous games in the genre. The basic concept is that you play as Nicholas Conner. Connerís your traditional space hero that we all aspired to be when we were youngsters. Heís been on the frontlines, heís seen combat, and heís got the memories and the medals to prove it. After failing to obey orders (the traditional, rebellious thing to do), he was demoted from major to captain, and was forced by his superiors to monitor space from the comforts of the Forseti space station Ė not the place a decorated war hero would normally want to be. He is however seeing some action there, in the form of his lovely fiancťe Samantha Reilly.
From the get-go, youíre pretty much expecting something bad to happen. Conner doesnít hesitate to let you know that ďsomething feels wrong, like an itch on the back of my neck driving my nerves wild.Ē You spend the first portion of the game (which relates to about a half hour of a total of twenty overall) completing random tasks while you familiarize yourself with the gameplay. Then, the **** hits the fan as we have been anticipating. Conner goes on a routine mission to mine some plutonium out of an asteroid with a severe hottie, and after several hours, he comes back to the space station, only to find it mysteriously empty. Within a good 20 seconds of their arrival, the hottie is dead and a gargantuan beast the size of a small dump truck (no, I didnít whip out my manhood) is after our hero.
This is where the actually ďrunning like hellĒ comes into play. While the game is essentially an all-out action romp, there are times when even your guns arenít big enough to take down some of your foes, and at that point, itís time to run. These portions of the game are handled through reflex button presses. The first time youíre treated to this aspect of the game, youíll have no idea whatís going on. Thatís on purpose though Ė the gameís a tricky little devil like that. The camera is pointed towards the front side of your character, and heís running at the screen. Conner automatically runs, while you control his side to side movement and his jumps and ducks when prompted. Except, because of the camera angle, you have very little time to react to the obstacle, and need to make a snap decision. Should you fail to make it over, the monster will catch up, and youíre ass is as good as dead. This creates an exciting tension that is sadly one of the only tense parts of the game.
Of course, it wouldnít be that much fun if you were just running away. Underneath the title of the game on the box, it specifically says ďhunt or be hunted.Ē Fortunately, thereís a lot of hunting. Unfortunately, the hunting isnít that good Ė itís downright bad at times. This is mainly because of the camera, which is one of the most unhelpful pieces of garbage I've ever dealt with. Boss battles specifically are the worst. They are typically fought in confined areas, which inevitably leads to terrible camera angles. Itís fantastic to be attacked by something from off-screen that you backed into while trying to avoid another enemy, but itís even better when you walk into a randomly burning fire that you couldnít see and die. Yeah, itís that good. The camera issues are nearly negated by a lock-on combat system that allows you to target and shoot enemies that arenít in your sight, but it doesnít target the nearest enemy, so youíll end up shooting at something down the hall sometimes, even while an enemy is pecking away at your feet.
At least thereís a variety of enemies and weapons throughout the game. Itís not nearly as linear as you would expect, because the enemies evolve as you work through the game. Initially, youíll only have a few critters to exterminate, but soon enough there are about a dozen or so different foes to blast. And blast you will, there are lots of different weapons too Ė from assault rifles to shotguns to crossbows, itís all here. In a slight deviation from traditional horror games, the assault rifle has unlimited ammo, so thereís no fear of combat. The other weapons need ammo, but youíll rely on the assault rifle much of the game, so ammoís never much of a concern. One thing I liked about RLH was the ability to modify my weapons, to make them stronger through the use of chips that enhance the strengths of the weapons. You can make your weapon shoot faster and hit harder, which is one reason why you can use the assault rifle for much of the game.
You donít necessarily need to rely on only your weapons though. You actually arenít completely alone throughout your quest to survive, there are actually several other survivors fighting their way through the onslaught too. For the most part, the allies are completely inept at doing what you want them to. Sometimes, theyíll take the lead when youíre supposed to be finding something with them, other times; theyíll just stop and fail to follow you at all, only to inexplicably meet up with you at a cutscene later on. Youíll wonder what they were doing when you werenít with them, which is more entertaining to think about than the game actually is. The characters do however fulfill there goal, which is to progress the storyline and provide gameplay goals.
Your goal in RLH is simple: kill, or be killed. Youíll go on rescue missions, missions to gain information on the aliens taking over the station, repair missions, and dozens of other little ďgo here, do thisĒ type missions, but for the most part, they all basically mean the same thing: kill every thing around and donít die along the way so you can do something inane and come back so you can find somewhere else to kill things. The space station has lots of little areas to explore, but they donít completely alleviate the boredom. There are lots of hidden items such as healing items (including BAWLS, the highly caffeinated beverage that is advertised in-game) and ammunition to find as you try to solve the games few easy puzzles.
RLH even manages to be boring to look at. The game was in development for quite some time, and it had an adverse effect on the graphics. The gameís textures are bland and grainy and the environments are basically the same color for the better part of the game. All of the characters in the game are unique looking, but suffer from stiff animations and poor lip-syncing for their voice-overs. A lot of RLHís story is told through cutscenes, and well most of them are pretty decent, the transitions between them are jerky and slow, so sometimes something exciting will happen and youíll be on the edge of your seat when suddenly the screen goes black and the sound stops as you wait for the loading of the next scene. Thatís very cinematic.
At least the voice acting is cinematic. The developers went all-out on hired talent for this one. Lance Henriksen, who had roles in The Terminator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and a role in the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator movie, voices Conner. Lesser known actors and actresses, such as Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway in the Star Trek: Voyager TV series) and Clancy Brown (who had a role in Starship Troopers and has lent his voice to dozens of games) all have roles in the game, and the results are fantastic. Interestingly enough, the game borrows a little from a lot of the series/movies the actors were involved in. Music is handled in the form of heavy-metal and the game puts good use to surround-sound effects. Youíll always know where your enemies are coming at you from, even if you canít see them.
Itís almost saddening that so much potential (and BAWLS advertising money) was wasted on this title. With a better camera, it could have created an excellent, tense atmosphere. With better gameplay, it could have been one of the great action games on the PS2. As it is, thereís not much going for it outside of a few parts, the weapons system and the voice-overs. Diehard fans of the action/horror genre might get a bit more out of it than I did (Iím not exactly ďdiehardĒ), but for the most part, most people will end up disappointed in the game. I know I was.
Community review by asherdeus (April 21, 2004)
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