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Run Like Hell (PS2) Game Review

Overall (not an average):

Developer: Digital Mayhem
Publisher: Interplay
Platform: Playstation 2
ESRB Rating: M (Blood, gore, violence, strong language)

At first glance, Run Like Hell seems like a no-brainer blockbuster title. Combining the proven story elements of the survival horror hits like Resident Evil with some sci-fi goodness a’la Aliens, you’d just about have to try to screw it up. Remarkably enough, however, someone did just that. Despite a time-tested concept and an interesting new setting, the game’s a snoozer, and feels half-done.

The story goes like this: you live on a space station, mining nearby asteroids for cash. You get up one morning, fly your normal run to the mines, and return to find the station made into an abattoir. Some hostile alien species is running about slicing people to ribbons and covering the interior of the station with pulsing pink goo of some kind. So, naturally, instead of attempting to get the hell off the station, you decide to stick around and “get to the bottom of things.”

Sounds cool enough. Unfortunately, despite the game’s title, everything slows to a crawl after an opening chase sequence. Instead of being a frenetically-paced sci-fi horror crossbreed, featuring lots of beasts jumping out of dark corridors while you blast away and run furiously, trying to stay alive, you get a tedious puzzle-crawl, with more time spent looking for Switch A in order to open Door B than actually running, like hell or anything else. Of the beasts there are only a handful, and they get repetitive within an hour of starting the game.

Adding to my frustration, the graphics look half a decade out of date. I’m not sure what engine was used for the game, but it needs revamping badly. Even worse, there are moments when characters are supposedly handling objects, etc., and none are visible. My favorite piece of evidence regarding the half-assed effort put forth here is when the hero shares a drink with someone at the bar, lifting a perfectly cupped (and perfectly empty) hand to his lips to drink. Would rendering a glass have been that damned hard? There are several moments like this throughout the game. The textures used are also pretty damned repetitive, and not that sharp to begin with, so even the backgrounds look mediocre.

Sound is decent, but again, the team re-used the same noises and effects so many times (and had such a dearth of variety) that the whole thing becomes entirely too repetitive to be anything but annoying. The voice acting is passable, but nothing to write home about, I’m afraid. Since the script doesn’t give them much to work with, the problem is only compounded.

Run Like Hell makes a great textbook lesson in missed opportunities. Had the design team trusted their genre and gone for a pulse-pounding sci-fi survival thriller, it would have gone over gangbusters. But how caught up in the adrenaline of trying to survive can a player get when, at one point, the monsters wait at the end of the hallway so that you can figure out the puzzle to open the next door, only to come chasing you once you figure it out? It breaks the mood and ruins the immersive character so necessary for a great survival game. These guys could take a lesson from Silent Hill 2 on how to be clever and creepy at the same time.

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