Developer: Digital Mayhem
Date: April 8, 2003
Run Like Hell was first announced for PS2 right after the system was released in Japan years ago. At that time, it looked pretty impressive and Sony was hyping it up as a big title. Since then, RLH has been delayed many, many, MANY times and was finally released for PS2 in September of last year, to some pretty poor reviews. Not long after being released on PS2, Interplay announced it would be bringing the title to Xbox, with a good list of improvements in not only graphics but in gameplay as well. It seemed like RLH was getting a second chance at life. RLH is now about to be released in a few days on Xbox. Was the developer able to fix the problems of the PS2 version, or did we get yet another quick port that takes little advantage of the Xbox hardware?
RLH starts off on a space station where many diffrent life forms, both alien and human, coexist peacefully. Things are going well, there have not been any hostile attacks from any alien races for years, and according to comments in the game, there are no hostile life forms that are even within a few light years of them. As is common for this type of game, what starts out all nice and happy tends to go bad really quick, and RLH is no expection. In no time, you will find yourself on a space station where there are all kinds of big, nasty things running around killing people, and the only hope for the rest of the people that haven't become alien food is you, Nicholas Conner!
Luckily, Nicholas Conner has been in quite a few wars with all kinds of lifeforms and is more than capable of dealing with these nasties. Not so lucky for you is the fact that dealing with these nasties is very little fun. As you play through the game, you will start to notice that there are very few types of aliens for you to take on. Making things worse is the fact that the aliens spawn out of nowhere and respawn for quite some time before the room is "all clear" and you can move on. Not only does this get extreamly repetitive, but it also gives the game no shock value or scare factor at all. Instead of walking into rooms and stumbling into the enemies which are hiding and waiting for you, you walk into a room to find one standing there or having one appear before you. As soon as this happens, there is absolutely no suprise left in that room because they'll keep on coming until you kill them all. Basically, once you find out where they're spawning from, you just have to move away from that area and pick them off. Not exactly "thrilling" gameplay.
To add to the repetitive problems, there is also no strategy whatsoever in the game. You never run out of ammo so you don't have to worry about looking for it or balancing it. The deepest part about the combat system is these power cards which you can mix and match with your guns to increase the rate of fire and damage. The rest of the gameplay is made up of "go here, find this key, unlock this door, activate this..." which is only held up by the respawning alien rooms that delay you. This really gives the gameplay a sort of choppiness, and it doesn't really flow well. RLH also has quite a few mini games, some of which are like the QTE in Shenmue where you just have to press the right button at the right time. These help change the pace a little but are not really exciting or complicated. The developer did add a few more rooms, mini games and the option for downloadable content to the Xbox version, but none of that really factors in much over the PS2 version and ends up being just more of the same.
Controlling your character is not too hard, thanks in large part to the auto lockon system. Even if you can't see the enemies, all you have to do is press the button, and it will target them for you. The camera system works pretty well, letting you control it and adjust it via the right joystick. It does block your view at times, but thanks to the lockon system, you are still able to defend yourself even if you can't see the aliens. Overall the whole combat system in the game is very simple and has no depth to it.
The graphics in RLH do not stand up well compared to current PS2 games right now, much less Xbox games. The space station on which the game takes place is generally pretty dark. The game's lighting and shadows are really bland and do little to make the world feel alive or scary. The textures for the levels are very plain and have little detail, and the same can also be said about the character textures. The Xbox version seems to use higher resolution textures, but in this case, that is a bad thing since you can see some pixelation here and there. The character models and alien models are not made up of very many polygons, and you will see some sharp edges on them. The game's framerate does stay pretty smooth throughout the game though, which is not very shocking, considering the low level of detail. The animation is also really bad. Walking around looks really stiff, and there seem to be frames of animation missing for the aliens, as some of their actions are really jerky. The sound is also a mixed bag. The voice acting is pretty good, but the sound effects are low quality and repeated over and over.
Even though this game spent so long in development, it looks like it was put together quickly and seems to have all kinds of things missing. At one point in the game, you and your friend have a toast together. Not only do they both suddenly appear to have drinks, but when your character raises his glass, all you see is his hand, and no glass to be found. Another example would be this cut scene where you start down this ladder and your friend follows behind you. It breaks away and picks up in the room below, where you're still climbing down the ladder but your friend somehow overtook you on the ladder and is already standing in the room waiting for you to climb down. Things like that really hurt the presentation of the game and give it a sloppy feel. In the end, this game will last between 15-20 hours, if you can stand playing it that long. It gets boring and repetitive quickly as the gameplay is not much fun and lacks any depth whatsoever. Xbox is really in need of more games in this genre, but RLH just has too many shortcomings to be even recommended to the most diehard fan of this type of game.
Score : 5.4/10