Prisoner Of War
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Review of Prisoner Of War
With so many violent war games around at the moment it makes a pleasant change to come across a title where confrontation involves the use of guile and quick wits instead of a sawn-off-shotgun. The player takes on the guise of Lewis Stone, a US Army Air Force Captain, who was inadvertently shot down on a reconnaissance mission over enemy territory. Fortunate for him the surveillance location happened to be that of the Stalag Luft Prisoner Of War Camp, so he didn’t have much of a journey to his place of capture.
Following a brief chat with some of the long-term prisoners, Stone soon realizes that German scientists are creating a mysterious weapon capable of changing the course of the war. Worse still… those nasty Huns are using the camp as cover.
The idea of the game is to maneuver a third person perspective Captain Stone around each of the progressively expanding POW camps searching for items and clues that will aid his escape. I suppose you could say the game is part adventure, part RPG because he won’t get very far without interaction. Thankfully fellow prisoners can be quizzed for information as to the whereabouts of essential tools such as keys that access locked areas, crowbars to prize open padlocked doors, disguises to fool guards or some of the many other items that could be used to break out of the camp. Unfortunately most of your inmates require something in exchange for this knowledge (cash, goods etc) and so begins a frantic ‘supermarket sweep’ around the entire camp.
The sound effects used within Prisoner Of War are fine. There’s a wonderful cinematic music score that helps create a ‘Great Escape’ atmosphere to the game. Even the character acting is carried through with all the vigor and OTT style of a Hollywood movie, from the stiff upper-lipped British officers to the comic book broken English/German accent of the guards. So expect a lot of banter such as… “Vas ist dat, English pig-dog? Go avay or I vill shoot you”.
A great amount of time has obviously been spent on getting Stone’s fellow prisoners to trudge around the camp as individual’s rather than as a herd of sheep. While I appreciate that the groundbreaking Artificial Life engine attempts to do something more complex than has ever before achieved on console, it does sometimes screw-up. The idea of this mechanism is to authentically create realistic behavior patterns and natural movements for the prisoners and guards throughout the game. But on occasions the AI has a lot to be desired as by simply standing in the wrong place every single prisoner will jam collectively like the cars on a Formula 1 practice lap. In fact on one occasion I bunched everyone together for the best part of a day (outdoors, right in the center of the camp) leaving the camp commandant to believe there had been a mass breakout. Then during darkness the stupid guards kept walking right up to us, shining their torch in our direction, saying… “Vas ist dat? Did I hear something? Nein, I must have imagined it!”… and then walking away without raising the alarm. Doh!
Graphically the game looks very tidy. Each character has an individual appearance making for easy identification of key helpers, so you shouldn’t waste too much time talking to the wrong people. The prison compounds have been intelligently designed to make sure that each task proves slightly more challenging to reach than the last, while a useful numbering system of prisoner huts and helpful signposting of key locations avoids the player becoming totally confused as to his present whereabouts. Once an area has been breached it also appears on Stone’s personal map. Another point worth mentioning is that collectable items twinkle when approached (similar to Resident Evil pick-ups).
With so much praise being heaped upon Prisoner Of War you’d think it was faultless. Unfortunately the one major flaw with the game may prove too much for some players to take so I best mention it. The camera angles at times can be extremely frustrating. The standard view is from a third person perspective, which can be adjusted by the right analog stick and centered by a press of the R1 button. However, once inside any of the huts or buildings this feature is disabled and the chosen view always seems to be the worst possible. Furthermore, when exiting an enclosed area the set camera angle nearly always switches from just behind to directly in front of Stone resulting in him re-entering the building he’s just exited. Thankfully the on-screen radar highlights the position of nearby guards therefore all this fumbling around doorways may not always end up in capture, but does occasionally.
Should an escape be made then the player is graded, with higher marks being awarded access to some of the games secrets. Unfortunately it would be a pretty short game if Captain Stone made it home free after his first experience of a prison camp, therefore his imminent capture and removal to a bigger, stronger fortress assures the reward of a more testing challenge culminating in a visit to the famous Colditz prison camp.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Prisoner Of War' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
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