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     " It probably should have been an element of a larger action game rather than a game in and of itself. "

      Title: Prisoner of War by Codemasters

      Format: PC action game

      Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo

      The Hype: Being held as a prisoner of War, as a general rule, sucks. The food's lousy, the accommodations are sub par, and the activities director rarely has your best interest in mind. Still, it does afford you the chance to escape- which Codemasters feels is an entertaining enough premise to build a whole game around. But does it work? Read on, my monkeys. Read on.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: We're going to say a lot of things in this review about Prisoner of War (POW) that may border on less than complimentary, however the graphics don't fall anywhere near those areas. Pretty and fluid, this 3rd person adventure game really shows how far computer graphics have come and how fluid they can be. Seamless and beautifully lit, POW offers an immersive environment that will definitely suck you in and allow you to lose several hours wandering the greater German countryside and the camps it contains. Most intriguing of all, however, is the ambiance the graphics set. Half Hogan's Heroes and half Bridge Over the River Kwai, the mood is one of action set within the stark reality of a POW camp and, though I hesitate to use the word to describe it, really is fun to get involved in. The only drawback is CPU usage and some stuttering, but higher end machines will run it no problem. 4 out of 5

      Playability: At it's heart, POW is a puzzle solving and stealth game rolled into one. For those of you who enjoyed the sneaking around aspects of such hits as Metal Gear Solid and the puzzle solving of Myst will find a nice amalgam of the two genres nestled here. The puzzles, mostly of the gathering kind, lead you towards escape from the prison camp your interred in and in the process you must use an incredible amount of stealth to avoid guards, search for information, and remain clandestine in your efforts to escape. Aiding and hindering you in this are other prisoners to talk to, or bribe, for information, roll calls and meal times that must be met, and a nifty assortment of Colonel Klink knock offs who will try and thwart your every move. The controls are fluid and easy to master and the game's engine includes a nice mix of radars and noise meters so that you can really get a feel for your progress and overall effect.
          The biggest detraction from the game, however, is the rather limited premise and oddly repetitive concept. Your character, Captain Stone, manages to find himself in camp after camp trying to escape with no story to connect him from place to place. Each level you're just recaptured, stuck in a new prison, and have to find your way out again. And while I understand that's the fundamental point of the game, it gets really dull having to go after the same goal over and over again with no break and no change in the overall gameplay. Add to this a rather shady AI which isn't smart enough to really give you a challenge and the complete lack of any true action (the only time anything exciting happens is when you get shot by the guards) and the game ends up being interesting but a bit boring. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: As you may have expected there is no multiplayer in POW (because sneaking around with someone else would be no more interesting than sneaking around by yourself). As for replayability, it comes exclusively in the form of replaying the missions you've already completed. At the end of each level you are given a score card based on your stealth and cunning and through replaying the missions you can increase that score. Not entirely a waste, higher scores do give you fun little bonus codes but, still, it's just redoing the same mission over and over again without any noticeable change and that's never been particularly exciting to me. 2.75 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all Prisoner of War is fun but only in small doses. The sneaking and puzzle solving is cool but the repetitive nature of the game, lack of any kind of action, and the complete lack of a binding story will quickly cause you to lose interest. It ends up being dramatic without being overly interesting and probably should have been an element of a larger action game rather than a game in and of itself.

      The Good: Pretty with some cool sneaking around.

      The Bad: Gets old fast.

      The Overall Ugly: I enjoyed it but don't think I'll look back again.

      What it's Worth: Rental

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