Publisher: CDV Software
Developer: Sirius Games
Release Date: October 22, 2007
Escape from Paradise City is semi-story-driven game based largely on themes previously explored in titles like GTA. There are a number of things about Paradise City that make it feel a lot like GTA, but without any of that messy character interaction or player-driven plot development.
In Paradise City, you're given control of three different characters whose goal in life is to infiltrate the overarching criminal organization in control of the eponymous city. Each of the pre-generated characters has a different skill focus, whether that is hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, or politics and leadership. In each mission, you are given one of the three characters to use — it is not the player's choice — and through them, you must gain control of different sections of the city and/or defeat certain enemies. Some missions may also involve protecting a particular individual or location.
Each section of the city you control has the ability to spawn gangers, who you can use to help defend that area from attack by rivals, or to attack neighboring zones controlled by neutral or rival warlords. This offers the most entertaining aspect of the game: getting a whole bunch of gangers together and rushing into a neighboring territory to attack anything that so much as looks at you cross-eyed. The potential for chaos, bloodshed, noise and carnage is staggering.
Regardless, most of the missions seem to follow the same basic formula: grab a territory, hire some gangers, grab another territory, gain a character level, hire more gangers and maybe a henchman, grab another territory and so on. Adding character levels is the extent of the RPG element in Paradise City; there is no character interaction or story-changing decisions for you to make. However, each new level grants you additional attribute points for things like strength and charisma, as well as trait points which you can spend on new combat abilities or skills that might allow you to control more henchmen or squeeze more money out of the territories under your control. The available traits differ for each character, and it seems as if the tactics you use with each will become increasingly divergent as traits are earned.
The game interface features a quickbar for your character's special combat abilities, and another for more politically-based powers. The politically based powers are the same for all characters, but the combat abilities vary from character to character, and it appears that you can choose which abilities you want to have in your combat quickbar, thus allowing you to tailor your character's skills to your preferred fighting style or the particular talents of each character.
Don't think you have to do all of the fighting yourself. Paradise City offers a nice selection of henchmen to choose from, though their availability varies from mission to mission. Each comes at a price and has a different fighting style to go along with his unique personality. One particularly entertaining henchman resembles a redneck rocker with a penchant for combat explosives. If henchmen aren't your thing, perhaps you'd prefer hiring some gangers, who make great cannon fodder when assaulting a heavily defended rival territory.
Paradise City's graphics probably won't knock anyone's socks off, though certain elements, such as bars and gun shops, seem well rendered. You aren't likely to spend much time taking in the scenery anyway, due to the game's quick pace and the fact that you are mostly looking at your character and the scenery from a bird's-eye, third-person view. The voice acting is actually one of the game's highlights, as many of the henchmen and important NPCs have some pretty funny lines.
While the final release will have some multiplayer functionality, this feature was disabled in our preview build. Indications are that up to eight players will be able to compete against each other individually or in teams. It's unclear whether multiplayer will use the same or different maps, but it is clear that won't be a cooperative play mode.
A relatively simple game, Escape from Paradise City is geared toward those looking for a quick outlet for their violent tendencies. On the other hand, a fair degree of skill in the RTS genre is required, and those who are lacking will find it somewhat challenging to complete the game's objectives with the necessary speed.
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