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The Great Escape

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Action


Xbox Review - 'The Great Escape'

by Jordan Van Nest on Aug. 19, 2003 @ 12:26 a.m. PDT

Genre: Action
Publisher: Take 2
Developer: Pivotal Games
Release Date: July 22, 2003

Buy 'THE GREAT ESCAPE': Xbox | PC | PlayStation 2

The Nazis are everywhere! Your aircraft shakes as the sound of heavy machine guns pierces the air. Glancing through the window you have just enough time to see the nearest friendly bomber explode in a flaming ball of steel. And then, all hell breaks loose. Suddenly the cockpit explodes, slamming you against the floor of the plane at a tremendous force. Dazed, you manage to crawl to your feet, coughing as black smoke fills the aircraft. “Abandon Ship!” a crewmember cries as he straps on a parachute. You have no choice. Following his lead, you grab a nearby parachute and prepare to make the jump. Gazing below, you can see the bright lights of a nearby German city. But you have no choice, and without a second thought, you step out into the brisk night air. And so the adventure begins.

Trapped behind enemy lines and in one of the toughest Prisoner of War camps in Germany, you will be forced to utilize every resource at your command if you are to have any chance of escape. You will have to sneak, steal, and even kill, but in the end, you will have your freedom. Such a task could only be suited for one man. You are Steve McQueen. And this is your story. Before playing this game I had only one question. I knew that it was this
question that would ultimately determine the quality of the game, so I was eager to find the answer. The question is the same that many gamers ask before playing any movie-licensed game. “Can this game break the famous movie to game curse?” This curse, as many of us know, is almost always present it seems with movie-licensed games. Perhaps by coincidence, games made from movies are almost always lacking in some major way. So naturally, when I picked this game up, that was the first question that came to mind. So does “The Great Escape” break the movie/game curse which has existed for so long? In one word…No.

After I had played this game for about 10 minutes there was only one thing that I wanted to do. Turn the xbox off. But thinking that maybe it would get better, I played on. I played on until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Did it ever get any better? No. And I turned the xbox off, never wanting to play it again. There isn’t just one or two elements of this game that bring it down-there are many things that ultimately lead to the game’s failure.

Based on the hit movie “The Great Escape”, the game had not only a huge fan base but huge potential as well. Gamers were just looking for a reason to fall in love with this game. But sadly, this game offers only one promising feature, the only thing similar between the game and the movie. And that is the storyline. As the story goes, you are Steve McQueen. Trapped deep behind enemy lines in a Prisoner of War camp during WWII, you must use stealth, espionage, and sheer cunning to outsmart your enemies and take back your freedom. The game copies the movie almost exactly, utilizing a totally linear style of gameplay. There are no choices for you to make that will affect the storyline- you must follow the straight path from beginning to end. This is my first complaint. I would have really liked to see more of an RPG element to this game. If you were given the freedom to not only explore the camp, but to also decide when and how to plan your escape, the game would have been much better. Instead, the game centers around various “missions” you are sent on, such as “Retrieve the shovel”, or “Talk to the officer”.

Here is where another major fault is present. This game is extremely repetitive. There is almost no variety in the tasks that are assigned to you. Usually you will either have to find an object, or talk to someone (who will then tell you to find an object). Then you have to return the object to someone who will tell you to find another object. This cycle repeats for the entire game, drawing the fun value down to almost zero. When you’re trying to find various items, you will need to avoid the detection of the guards, so the game includes a “stealth mode”. However, this mode is definitely not groundbreaking or unique to the game at all.
The “stealth mode” is merely an option that you must use to sneak around and avoid detection by the guards. However, with the faulty A.I. the stealth mode is never a sure thing. Sometimes guards will walk right past you without even noticing you, while other times they will spot you from a very far distance away. This inconsistency cuts into the realism of the game and hurts the overall feel as well. One of my major complaints is that this game just does not feel like the movie. The game seems to just rush you through the storyline without actually trying to add the drama from the movie. It just doesn’t feel real.

Like I said before, this game is extremely repetitive. In most all of the missions you will be doing one thing. Sneaking. And when you are done, you’ll sneak some more. There is no problem solving, decision making, or any other elements to add variety to the constant sneaking. For a while all of the sneaking is alright, but it
eventually gets tiring. After you have been sneaking for hours, you will not be exactly happy when you are introduced to a brand new area where you must sneak around. I thought the controls were ok, but they can still be a little difficult at times. The game does try to add some action segments in to add a little variety to the constant sneaking, but it just does not work. The “action” pieces are frustrating and take a lot of time and restarting to complete. Another minor annoyance in this game is that you are only allowed four saves per level (it doesn’t ever bother to tell you this). And since the levels can be fairly large, you may find yourself in a very time consuming situation. One interesting feature is the use of different types of enemies. Some opponents will be smarter than others and some will be
tougher. This forces you to recognize what kind of soldiers you are coming up against when you are in a risky situation. Like I said before, the game tries to capture the feel of the movie, but instead falls short. It just fails to bring the same feeling that fans of the movie were looking for.

Graphically this game was not bad. I thought the faces and bodies of the characters were nicely done. Also, the animations were pretty smooth, so no gameplay is sacrificed because of this. Overall, I would say this game has fairly average graphics- not too flashy, but not terrible either.

I had a big problem with the sound. The music was what really annoyed me. There is one song in particular, a sort of fast tempo march that had me going crazy. Throughout the game, this song is constantly played in completely random situations. Even in parts where there should have been dramatic music, such as when you are captured by the Nazis, the march is being played in the background! This definitely does not add to the realism of the game at all. It does not help the mood either. In this way, the game completely ruins the dramatic twists of the storyline. I would have really liked to see some dramatic music for the dramatic parts, and some fast paced music to match the fast paced parts. Overall, I would say this game needs a new soundtrack.

“The Great Escape” simply fails to meet its expectations. It is a game filled with annoying problems and repetitive gameplay. I would definitely not recommend this game to anyone, but if you are a huge fan of the movie, then I would suggest that you go out and rent it before you even think about buying it. In the end, “The Great Escape” just does not capture the feel of the movie, and does not create a fun and realistic environment to play in. “The Great Escape” will just be forever known as another victim of the movie-licensed curse.

Score : 5.0/10

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