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     " How do you look at a game like Metal Gear Solid, which has essentially the same style of gameplay, graphics, etc., realize you're inferior to it in almost every measurable way, and then release a year later anyway? "

      Title: Run Like Hell by Interplay

      Format: PS2 Horror/Action Game

      Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo

      The Hype: Delayed more than OJ Simpson's "Search for the Real Killer", Run Like Hell (RLH) has been talked about and hyped so many times that you knew one of two things about the game: It was likely to be either the next Final Fantasy or the next Diakatana. Set hard against the horror/survival genre, RLH attempts to give gamers what they think we want: scary moods with lots of action. Does it work? I don't know, you tell me? Oh, wait- this is my review…

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: As I said, this game went through a number of very publicized delays- which meant that the production scale crossed that "generational gap". In other words, when they started developing this game some 2 years ago the graphics were pretty good. Now, well…they're really not. While there are definitely some strong points to be had (almost perfect lip synching, some nice model details) the overall feel is that we've "been there, done that, and have now seen much better." The motion, which at this stage of the PS2's life should be smooth and even is jerky and definitely lacking an appropriate amount of animation frames, the models themselves are cut and blocky, and- both best and worst of all, are the levels. The cool part is that during the course of your play the space station on which the game is set will constantly degrade as the alien that is infesting it branches out. The not-so-cool part is that, even though that is a great concept, the textures of the level, details, and smoothness leave a whole lot to be desired. Still, when you look at it less than totally objectively, RLH isn't bad to look at or hard on the eyes- it just pales in the face of some of what we've seen on the PS2 as late as a year ago. 3 out of 5

      Playability: The premise for RLH was two fold. The first was to deliver a hard edged survivor/horror game set in space, and the second was to bump up the action level of the genre to accommodate a more aggressive playing style. The result is both hit and miss: the ambiance for the now invaded space station is creepy and very "Aliens"-esque, but the action (in the form of fire fights) becomes so overwhelming that you'll only briefly realize how creepy it could be in between moments of obliterating countless creepy-crawlies.
          At it's heart, RLH is a classic 3rd person action game in function and form (which is not, by any stretch, a bad thing). Direct movement control (push that way, go that way), easy button mashing attacks with auto-locking targeting, and pre-programmed camera angles all mean that you have a nice, standard mode of play. That's good. What's not so good is that those features aren't quite refined enough (despite the years of development) and the camera is…frustrating, to say the least. The auto-locking targeting works well enough but offers little customization and, thus, will commonly have you pointing at the baddy you least want to kill in the room. And the movement, while mostly flawless, is backed up with a bad collision engine so you'll often try and interact with objects and not be able to find the right angle to interface them from.
          But all that could be saved if the overall gameplay was over the top…which, as you may have guessed, it unfortunately is not. What it boils down to, essentially, is a hack and slash dungeon (space station) crawl as what other games have made "startle-ya-scary" RLH keeps very predictable. You'd have to be an absolute amateur gamer not to figure out where the alien's spawn points are, the fact that they pattern themselves in 1's, 2's, and 3's from those points, or that what really ends up being your best "strategy" is simply to pound the attack button until everything is dead. Worse yet is the sheer number of bad guys thrown at you. In an attempt to gain a more "action movie" feel, RLH gives you, essentially, unlimited ammo and lots of guns. All of which, by the way, is good (especially if you were frustrated by the sparseness of hardware in games like Resident Evil). Unfortunately, however, RLH figures the only way to offset that advantage is by throwing dozens upon hundreds of creatures at you. So, when you add lots of baddies, bad targeting, and predictable spawn points you end up with a very base and, inevitably, unexciting "attack-attack-attack. Move to next room. Attack-attack-attack. Move to next room." style of play.
           Finally, as we also have come to expect from this genre, RLH is filled with the ever agitating "key and switch" puzzle solving. Low for the invention of a time machine so I could go back a decade, find the developer who invented this infuriating gaming virus, and wipe them from the face of the planet. I am so sick of "gee, I need to get through this door but the key is in a different room" that I just may have to go on an 8 state staple-gunning spree. The only plus side to it all, though, is that RLH manages to integrate the puzzles to the story (ala "Halo") and so it won't be quite so aggravating. Still, a note to all you developers out there: this is a trend that needs to go. Quickly.
          So, when you add it all up, the end result to all of this ends up being the "horror" aspect is totally removed from RLH. You spend so much time cursing the camera, pounding on monsters, and puzzle (map) solving that there's no room left for fear. And when you remove the horror aspect the only thing you have left is a standard 3rd person shooter- which, while entertaining, spends so much effort trying to be scary that it fails to capitalize on what the 3rd person shooter genre may have to offer. Disappointing. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: There is no multiplayer (there never is in games like these) and, with a 10-12 hour single player story driven campaign it would startle me if you ever actually went back to replay it. Still, 10-12 hours isn't bad for the buck. 3 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: If there is one true saving grace to Run Like Hell it's the story and, more specifically, the voice acting. Interplay, in a stroke of genius that I hope sticks for the industry, hired a bunch of known and, more importantly, talented actors to do the voice work. Lance Henriksen, Michael Ironsides, Kate Mulgrew, and Clancy Brown (which, by the way, if you don't know who any of those people are you immediately lose your monkey status) all lend to a stellar cast that keeps the game honest and believable…well, at least so far as the cut scenes go.
          The story, tritely and simply enough, is that you are retired special forces now living on an isolated space station with your girlfriend as a miner. You go off station to check out an asteroid and, when you come back, all hell has broken loose and you go all Rambo on their xenomorphic asses. Simple, straightforward, and totally uncomplex the story plays out like any random sci-fi b-movie you pulled off the shelf at Hollywood Video. Still, however, trite, I give them big kudos for bothering to include a progressive story at all (all too rare nowadays). Enough so, in fact, that I've heard lots of people bitch that there are too many cutscenes. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       You know, I always feel bad writing reviews like this one. It's not that the game is bad, per say, it's just that it's "Old". Not in release but in form. Run Like Hell is something that we should have seen years ago- when the glitches it has were more commonplace and the bar hadn't been bumped up so much higher.

      The Good: Great acting with a fun story and lots of action.

      The Bad: No horror to speak of and an incredibly antedated presentation.

      The Overall Ugly: How do you look at a game like Metal Gear Solid, which has essentially the same style of gameplay, graphics, etc., realize you're inferior to it in almost every measurable way, and then release a year later anyway? I just don't know.

      What it's Worth: Rental one lonely Saturday night for the b-sci-fi action.

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