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Escape From Paradise City (PC) artwork

Escape From Paradise City (PC) review


". The bank robber, Porter, can pick up anything to small machine-pistols (and, in an odd decision to recycle fantasy prefixes on the weapon types, a rusty Uzi) to hulking assault rifles while the crooked cop, Chekov, has a greater command of henchmen but prefers to provide covering fire with handguns. The last of the trio, Angel, a female brawler pulled from death row, simply kicks a lot or arse. Via violence. The three serve individual purposes, embodied by everyone having separate skill branches which they can level up through RPG-like methods."



Gaming and trends are common enough bed-buddies, but pairing the two up sometimes leads to buck-toothed, big-eared children that look like they've been sired by siblings. Right now, we're stuck in the middle of an MMO trend (thanks for nothing, Korea!) which has lead to everyone who knows a little bit of C basic trying to whack out their very own World of Warcraft clone. Even the little guys who don't have the servers to try and field a full MMO try to get in on the act by relegating would-be meat players with AI-driven computer clones instead. Escape from Paradise City attempts this once more when it arms you with an army of faceless thugs and charges you to take over a rotten, crime-infested city.

Things don't start out well with the introduction of generic plot #04: pull criminals out of purgatory and have them work towards obtainable McGuffins. In this case, three of them: a bank robber, a pit-fighter and a corrupt FBI agent.

What does work is how you need to utilise each of these felons to achieve the lofty goal the government has set in order to purchase the ne'er-do-wells freedom, which is to simply take the city apart, block-by-block until all the rival gangs have been killed, kicked out or subjected to your iron-fisted rule. To do this with any measure of success, the three protagonists will have to be shipped into the suburbs that most suit their fighting styles. The bank robber, Porter, can pick up anything to small machine-pistols (and, in an odd decision to recycle fantasy prefixes on the weapon types, a rusty Uzi) to hulking assault rifles while the crooked cop, Chekov, has a greater command of henchmen but prefers to provide covering fire with handguns. The last of the trio, Angel, a female brawler pulled from death row, simply kicks a lot or arse. Via violence. The three serve individual purposes, embodied by everyone having separate skill branches which they can level up through RPG-like methods.

It’s very much your old-school click-and-hurt set up that Diablo pioneered so many years ago, but what makes things different here is the slight RTS flavour. Rather than gun it alone through the crime-soaked streets, you can hire thugs from bars or summon lackeys to your side through a selection of special skills. With or without a small personal army, the idea is to take command of the differing suburbs of Paradise City neighbourhood by neighbourhood. You do this by deposing of the controlling forces already camped within your targeted area, be it street-gangs, Mafioso or biologically engineered mutants. Once you own a block and have convinced the people once running it to call you ‘Boss’, you become blessed with certain advantages.

Business-heavy blocks pay you protection money, the more run-down areas give you access to firearm stores while violent slums give you the best place to hire thugs from. Specialist areas also come equipped with training centres which let you or your gang build up even more skills. The more valuable the area, the more sought after it is, meaning that even after you capture it for your own means, you still have the added worry of rival gangs charging in and trying to retake the area. This can be a problem if you’ve not left enough meat to defend the site without your presence as, odds are, you’re several blocks away fighting for new turf when this happens.

Which brings the skill-sets into sharp focus. One skill lets you summon a car to come pick you up and take you to the defending area, but the better skills to use are the summoning of troops to the besieged area. While the normal neighbourhood defenders can and do easily fall to decent attacks, summon in a few healers and a few bruisers and the tide can easily be turned without you needing a look-in.

If it all sounds like a slightly more complex version of Bullfrog’s cyberpunk opus, Syndicate, that’s because it more or less is, right down to the better viewpoint being a slanted, top-down look as opposed to the clumsily-included third-person setting which doesn’t give you the scope to play general quite as much as you would like. Sure, it has foul-mouthed street scum instead of dispassionate cyborgs in leather trenchcoats, but a lot of what makes the game so much fun can be directly linked back. That the game never lets you rest by having enemy groups nibble away constantly at your boarders also stops the experience from getting flat. There’s always a new sector with a cool trainer a few blocks over, or that weapon shop with the sweet Kevlar body-vest is just a few streets swamped with knuckle-duster-wielding monkey boys away.

Ploughing through these streets and bossing around AI controlled scum is a pretty good way to go if you want to recapture the feel of an MMO for the friendless. There’s a real sense of accomplishment behind becoming the gangland boss of a sizeable city through force of arms. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s some greasy little street scum trying to barricade a corner of my territory and I have some kneecaps to break.

I always thought Don EmP had a good ring to it.

Rating: 8/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 18, 2007)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Feedback

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wolfqueen001 posted October 25, 2009:

I remember you used to have a feedback topic for this. I also remember reading this when you first wrote it. I remember this because I remember remarking either on AIM or in the thread something to the effect:

"Boss EmP sounds a lot better than Don EmP. You're not Italian enough for Don."

Anyway, as for real feedback, I still like the review. Not sure if I like it as much as I had when I first read it, but still. You do a good job describing the game and its features. If it's RTS-y, that's definitely not easy to do. Yet I get an almost exact sense of how this plays without ever having played it, and that's awesome. It's also a huge credit to you and your writing prowess.

That being said, I did find some concepts confusing or awkward, but only a few. And, really, most of my problem with the review lie with the penultimate paragraph. The Syndicate references are well-explained, but in some places are a bit ambiguous.

For example, this sentence here:

If it all sounds like a slightly more complex version of Bullfrog’s cyberpunk opus, Syndicate, that’s because it more or less is, right down to the better viewpoint being a slanted, top-down look as opposed to the clumsily-included third-person setting which doesn’t give you the scope to play general quite as much as you would like.

Is it Syndicate's system the top-down (and therefore better) view or this game's? I'm inclined to think this game has the clumsier camera angles and such because of the screenshots, but I can't directly tell this from the sentence itself.

Also, this section:

or that weapon shop with the sweet Kevlar body-vest is just a few streets swamped with knuckle-duster-wielding monkey boys away.

is hugely awkward, but mostly because of the over-description of enemy forces. And the word "away" just kind of hangs there and loses any meaning that it would have had because of all this added wordage.

Also, typo:

summon in a few healer and a few bruisers and the tide can easily be turned without you needing a look-in

healers

Anyway, these things aside, I still find this rather effective. I find it fascinating that you always have to be on your guard and well-defended. I also like that there are skills and things that let you handle defensive situations more easily. I think these aspects come across rather well. So while the review may be a bit clunky in some places, these are really quite few. The review itself is really quite well-written and does its job really well.

I also liked the Diablo references. Because Diablo was awesome.
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EmP posted October 25, 2009:

Here are some answers for a game I've not played in years:

Is it Syndicate's system the top-down (and therefore better) view or this game's? I'm inclined to think this game has the clumsier camera angles and such because of the screenshots, but I can't directly tell this from the sentence itself.

Escape has two viewpoints. It has one like Syndicate, which is top-dwon, and it has a new third party one that is the weakest of the two. Really, this game wants to be the new Syndicate, but all modern and updated.

...is hugely awkward, but mostly because of the over-description of enemy forces. And the word "away" just kind of hangs there and loses any meaning that it would have had because of all this added wordage.

It's an overloaded sentence because it's describing a lot. I do tend to overpack a lot of my sentences, but I don;t see much wrong with this one. So there!

Thanks for looking back on this one. It's always been one I liked, but kind of got lost in the shuffle.

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