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Reviewed: Run Like Hell
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: July 22nd, 2003
Page: 2

The Xbox port of Run Like Hell would at first glance seem to be a chance for Interplay to make up for some of the mistakes that kept the original PS2 version down; glitches, some spotty graphics, and control issues.

Truthfully, the Xbox does solve some problems, and it introduces others. 

On the good side:

Run Like Hell's storyline, told through a series of conversations and cutscenes, is quite deep and moving. In short, the storyline of the game revolves around a military man, on a space station, which gets overrun by an alien species while he's off on a mining survey. The problem? These aliens are brutal, hard to kill, and are sort of an organic version of the Borg; what they kill, turns into raw material for them to grow, very quickly. The ultimate goal? Get off the station with your butt intact. Of course, it's not easy; all through the game you find recordings made by people as they died, or even watch people die, including your fiancee. Tough break, that. The core storyline, the "love" story between the main character and his fiancee, is pretty good for a video game, with a twist ending that teases a sequel but also makes for a good ending in its own right.

There are a few minigames, of the "press the button of your choice now" variety, and a few puzzles to kill the nearly-invulnerable nasties called "Brutes". The rest of the time is spend hunting through the station, looking for passwords, keycards, weaponry, and trying not to get killed.

Control-wise, the game doesn't come over quite 100% from the PS2. The Xbox controller is comfortable, and the shooting buttons are great; dodging with the L-trigger just isn't as responsive as with an L-button, though, and clicking the right thumbstick for quick healing is rather counterintuitive.

Graphically, the port fixes just about all the complaints from the PS2 version. The only thing missing is higher-polygon models; everyone still does look quite blocky in the game's scenes. The Xbox also doesn't look quite as good rendering the prerendered cutscenes, indicating that someone did a poor job transferring them. On the upside, textures in the game remain crisp and clear, making it a lot easier on the eyes to go through the actual gameplay.

The sound is where Interplay really messed up. Does the game have 5.1 Surround? Yes. And, while in-game, it is really, really nice to hear. The problem? The sound levels aren't equalized between gameplay and cutscenes, and ambient sounds (which are on the same volume as speech) tend to be ridiculously loud, making certain cutscenes and conversations nearly impossible to hear for all the extra noise. 

The AI in the game, honestly, is pretty pathetic; enemies run up to you, and attack, or stand back, and attack. Strafing guarantees everything being fired will miss, as the AI never corrects for it; close-range, the only thing to do is try to push the enemy away and shoot it before it gets back into melee. The combat controls in this game don't do a whole lot to help, often executing a close attack instead of push-back, forcing the player to eat more damage. It changes the main battle strategy from survival-in-combat to a combination of staying away from everything, and managing healing items.

The Xbox extra? Well there's Live downloads with minigames, which are negligible, and skins, which are fine and good except for the fact that a good portion of the game involves pre-rendered cutscenes that won't have your chosen skin. Nifty, but not anything to really worry about. In-game, there's an extra weapon constructed from parts laying about; this lightning gun does a lot for the game, making middle levels a lot easier if you can construct it at first opportunity.

All told? It's a strong port, except for the sound issues. If you have the PS2 port, don't be in a hurry to upgrade; if you haven't played it, it's worth at least renting.

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Added:  Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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