Run Like Hell (PlayStation 2) Review

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Publisher: Interplay/Vivendi Universal Games
Developer: Digital Mayhem


Platform: Xbox, PlayStation 2
Reviewed on Xbox

Nick Conner is a former pilot turned deep space miner stationed on the Forseti Space Station with his fiancée, Dr. Samantha Reilly. Set in the near future, Nick returns from a routine mining expedition to find that the day's supply ship brought some unwanted guests, and after witnessing his assistant's slaughter at the hands (and teeth) of a savage alien beast, he is forced into a tense battle, requiring wits and a whole heck of a lot of fire-power.

Rating:
The Great Thirsty


Run Like Hell, the long delayed third-person shooter from Digital Mayhem, is a very rare kind of game indeed. While not lacking in game-play features, and certainly containing enough action to satisfy even the most hardcore of button tapping madmen, it is the first game to come along in a long time where the plot outshines the action. A great sci-fi plot with some big name voice actors (by video game standards at least) compensates for the less than stellar graphics and repetitive, simple game play – creating a confusingly addictive game wherein the plot becomes the central feature, more of a movie with mini-games and puzzles than an action game with a side-plot. All in all, Run Like Hell is a great experience with a few major drawbacks.

Viewed and controlled from a third person behind-the-back camera style, Nick is fairly easy to control, and in the few instances where the camera does get misplaced, it's easy enough to shift back using R2 or L2. A fairly extensive inventory system is employed and explained in the first level, a sort of training ground, and battle is taught as well. Fighting in Run Like Hell is fairly simple, however, and there is effectively a permanent auto-aim feature that allows you not only to dispatch your enemies quickly, but to see when they are coming by occasionally tapping the right shoulder button. Sadly, combined with the fact that the X button is all you need to shoot, this renders the fighting portions of the game fairly repetitive. Rather than aim or skill, you are forced to kill the alien opposition with a barrage of button-tapping. One interesting feature of the weaponry is that of chips. These objects, when added to your gun, modify the damage, firing rate or (on some of the later guns) clip size (the standard weapon of the game has infinite ammunition). The guns, while necessary, do not actually seem to be the major focus of the game however, which relies more on small puzzles and "Collect a pass code in these four places and use it on this door" kind of goals. The majority of the enemies are guarding these codes, which can be found in computer terminals and on small scraps of paper found with corpses. Finding these codes, of course, unlocks doors so you can attempt to rescue survivors from the creatures that have overtaken Forseti Station.

The enemies in Run Like Hell are somewhere in the spectrum between Resident Evil and Aliens – generally disagreeable and legitimately scary animals that have a tendency to pop out of strange places, causing you to frantically hit the X button, praying you can kill them before they get to you and begin removing your limbs. Speaking of limb removal, I feel the need to praise the developers of this game for including the frightening, sometimes gory full-motion videos that are sprinkled throughout the game. Although most cut scenes are generated by the same engine as the game play, those that are pre-rendered are very well done and contain a surprising amount of horror/sci-fi nastiness (when Nick and his female associate return from their mining exhibition, for example, he is greeted by having her head bitten off and spat at him). While console games still do see their fair share of blood and guts, something about an alien killing someone in a fantastically creative way still makes for a better show than, for example, human on human gang violence.

Run Like Hell is brought to life, vocally, by a fairly big name cast, featuring Lance Henriksen (Aliens, the short-lived Fox show Millennium), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), Clancy Brown (Pet Cemetery 2, numerous failed sci-fi TV shows), Michael Ironside (Scanners, countless horror movies) and Brad Dourif, the voice of the maniacal doll Chucky from Child's Play. In short, we have a B-Movie all-star cast in a video game that relies heavily on dialogue to drive the action (or at least to justify the mindless slaughter of aliens). The plot, while derivative of movies such as Aliens and The Thing, is still one of the best video game plots out there, and what the game may lack in suspense during action sequences, it more than makes up for in cut scenes, with increasingly grotesque monsters coming from every imaginable orifice of the space station. Each time a new creature is introduced, you are treated to a cut scene of exactly how this monstrosity could kill if you don't manage to shoot it in time.

Run Like Hell is a short and fairly fast paced game, clocking in at around eight to twelve hours. So, depending on how fast you can hit the X button, it is indeed capable of being beaten within a rental, and this is good, because there's really no reason to try to play through it again – no secrets, no hidden items, no second quest. The only real shortcoming of Run Like Hell is that it's just too short and too repetitive to really get deeply into playing it. Watching the cut scenes and dealing with the action, however, is a heck of a lot of fun. While not worth paying the full asking price at your local store right now, it is definitely worth checking out, so while I can't suggest that you "Run Like Hell" to go get it, you should "Walk-When-You-Get-A-Chance" to the video store and rent it. This game is like a movie in a lot of ways. Fifty dollars is too much for a movie, but you could do yourself a great service to rent it and have a kick-butt, scary, alien fighting weekend.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 20, 2002 5:58 PM.

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