Genre: Sci-Fi horror/adventure
Developer: Digital Mayhem
Release Date: 9/23/2002
Long-time PS2 fans may recognize this title as being announced even before the release of the PS2 itself, there is no doubting that this game has been a long time coming. What some people may not know, however, is that the title “Run Like Hell”, or RLH, as it is now known, was also the name of a game created in 1987, published by Eurosoft for the Commodore 64. But I digress. Historical references aside, this third-person action adventure title puts you in the shoes of Nicholas Conner, a decorated war hero who was demoted from major to captain rank as a result of his disobeying the general’s orders, even though in doing so he was able to snuff out the enemy and win the war. Now, as captain, he is assigned to monitoring Border Worlds on the Forseti space station.
The game starts out with Nicholas arriving at the Forseti space station only to find that it has been overridden with evil monsters, who apparently hitched a ride on an automated cargo ship. The entire station’s crew, save for a few, were all killed in under eight hours. Those who were not killed are practically in the belly of the beast and are fighting to stay alive. You'll come across these survivors, most of which are unique alien species (and in one case, voiced by Kate Mulgrew from Voyager fame), as you progress through the game. The first survivor you'll come in contact with is Dag, a brute-force fellow, who helps you initially escape an attack and from there on out will serve as a useful source of information and occasionally fight alongside you.
RLH controls like something between Headhunter and Metal Gear Solid, albeit with a more unwieldy camera system. Moving around is handled via the l-analog stick and Nicholas can auto-aim his weapon at nearby enemies by holding the R-1 trigger, pressing X will shoot. Killing the various baddies, which are heavily strewn throughout each level requires quite a bit of bullets, luckily you have unlimited ammo so that shouldn't be a problem. What is a problem, however, is the camera system during close-quarters combat in cramped corners. Expect to do battle based purely on intuition on more than a few occasions.
The dynamics of progressing in RLH include Resident Evil-style fetch quests, lots of combat, and a dash of mini-games. For instance, in one stage you'll need to track down a key card for a laboratory that houses a force-generator capable of exploding a massive monster, if only you could somehow lure him into the room. After finding the key card you'll need to take remote-control of a maintenance-robot and use it to piss the monster off until it chases it into the force-generator room. From there you switch back to Nicholas, initiate the force-generator and sync up the correct frequencies via a hit-the-button-at-a-specific-time mini-game and then sit back watch the gibs fly. Most of the time it will be obvious what needs to be done and how to do it just by calculating the situation, but sometimes you'll be left running around in big circles trying to find that much-needed item or objective location.
While RLH manages to do a decent job in the game play department it doesn't fare nearly as well graphically. Character models lack sufficient detail and clarity, except for a few occasions, like Dag who actually looks quite impressive in contrast. The desolate space station environments are fitting to the story, but textures used on doors or walls tend to repeat far too often. Cut-scenes, which are healthily interspersed between sequences look passable but hardly impressive, though the voice-syncing in these instances are spot-on and feature professional voice-work. The music is composed mainly of slow ambient tones that actually compliment the on-screen action quite nicely. Licensed music, lyrics and all, will accompany every boss-fight, a refreshing surprise. Sound effects get the job done but fail to leave a lasting impression.
Overall, RLH manages to be entertaining for the majority of the experience, though the clunky camera mechanics, blurry textures, and sometimes-confused objectives do have a tendency to mar this otherwise exciting title. It is hard to believe that RLH has been through a nearly three-year long development cycle, it just doesn't seem polished enough. But it does introduce a healthy-assortment of mini-games, original objectives, and interesting personalities along the way, enough so that it may appeal to a wide-range of gamers. Give it a look-see with a rental before deciding on whether to buy it or not.