reviews\ Oct 13, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Run Like Hell - PS2 - Review

I have to admit that I am a true follower and admirer of the survival-horror genre and there have been enough titles in this genre that have stolen my heart completely.  So it was with great interest that I was anxiously waiting for the arrival of a sci-fi survival-horror game known as Run Like Hell way back when it was first announced several months ago.  The result is game that is a shadow of what could have been something so much better.


Gamers assume the role of Captain Nicholas Conner who is a decorated war hero who has been forced to spend the rest of his military commission keeping an eye on the Border Worlds in a space station.  All is not bad for Captain Conner, though, because he likes the people around him and he plans to marry his fiancé, Doctor Samantha Reilly.  However, on his way back from a routine inspection in outer space, he returns to the station to find out a startling realization--everyone is either dead or missing.


Captain Conner quickly finds out that the cause of this death and destruction is the work of alien invaders that have somehow infected the station with its presence.  The aliens range from the savage cutters to the hulking Brutes and interestingly enough the aliens also jump out of pulsing mass that acts as a transportation portal.  Luckily, Conner is not alone . . . scattered throughout the station are survivors that aid him.


The controls in Run Like Hell are quite atrocious and this is mostly due to the poor management of the directional controls and the camera angles.  Those gamers familiar with the Resident Evil games will find the controls somewhat similar only far more confusing when it comes to directing Conner through narrow passages or when he makes quick turns around a corner.  To make matters worse, the camera occasionally does not let you see an enemy that just happens to be not too far in front of you.


Killing aliens is easy, though, and with a healthy supply of arsenals such as shotguns and assault rifles and bolt throwers, you’ll never run out of means to eliminate them.  The only bad thing is that instead of helping you, the targeting system is so awkward that it does more harm than good.  Still, with a lot of patience and plenty of practice, the fighting mechanics are not that difficult to master.


The game does try to keep from being just another running and shooting title and scattered throughout the game are several mini games that are just timed button pushing puzzles--still this is much appreciated.  The puzzles are also pretty good and solving them isn’t hard at all.  Gamers will find themselves luring aliens into a gravitational experiment room where the machine will kill it.


Visually, Run Like Hell is not a very good-looking game at all and this is a major disappointment since the alien threat in this game looks absolutely terrifying during cut scenes.  One of the problems with the graphics is that the in-game character models and many of the corridors found throughout the station are rather too plain.  The special effects such as gunfire or the alien’s dissolving in their own blood is drab, as well.  However, the major problem is that there are a number of bugs that affect the visuals.  For instance, moving the camera view just a little while standing next to a character turn that character in question into a “ghost”--in other words, you can see right through a person.


The sound effects in the game also disappoint and that is mostly due to the fact that alien screams and the muffled blast of your gun becomes repetitive.  Yet all is not bad in this front, though.  The loud thumping sounds of the bigger Brute alien running after you are enough to send chills down any gamers’ spine.  There is also excellent voice acting done by a professional cast of actors which include Lance Henriksen (“Aliens“), Kate Mulgrew (“Star Trek: Voyager”), Brad Dourif  (“The Exorcist 3”) and Michael Ironside (“Starship Troopers”) among others.  


Run Like Hell is the kind of game that would have been an unforgettable sci-fi survival-horror title but, unfortunately, it was rushed out before its defects have been worked out.  There really isn’t an excuse to play this game and I recommend that people turn to a better-paced and more polished PS2 survival-horror title like The Thing.  


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 5.0
Sadly, the controls are not as well-thought out and you cannot move around smoothly or easily switch targets during fights.  Gamers will find it something of an annoyance when Conner cannot do something as simple as smoothly making a quick turn around a sharp corner.  The make matters worse, the camera pulls away when you do make a quick turn and put you face-to-face with an alien and not even know it until the creature strikes. 


You can also modify your weapons using several types of modification chips that can increase the damage done, add more ammunition capacity or allow the weapon to fire more bullets per shot.  Add that to the list of weaponry and you are all set.  And there are times when you can control your own robots to lure unsuspecting aliens into a trap.   


Graphics: 5.9
Unfortunately the visuals also add to the already long list of shortcomings found in this game.  The characters and the surroundings plain to look at and that is a shame, really, considering that there is a strong story and plenty of interesting characters to meet and areas to explore.  The aliens are also something of a treat to go up against since their appearance is both startlingly frightful to look at.


The flash of the muzzle of your gun when you fire is not as impressive as it should look in a game that is inspired by the Aliens movie.  And riddling an alien enemy with bullets is sometimes not seen at all thanks to the awful camera views.  Still, there is not much to look at in terms of effects so gamers are not missing much.


Sound: 6.0
It is good to see a game that supports Dolby Surround sound and this is the game that would have sounded spectacular with the perfect sound system except that the sound effects are awfully dull.  A game like this would have faired better with more details to its sound but what we hear in this game is the same repetitive alien hisses and howls and even the weapons do not sound so impressive during the heaviest of battles.


The score is a highlight, of sorts, and sets the mood nicely and fluidly in a cinematic fashion. A boss fight suddenly comes to life with killer tracks from the band Breaking Benjamin, putting gamers in a you’re-playing-a-movie mood.  Adding to this is superb voice acting work from big-name actors of the likes of Kate Mulgrew and Lance Henriksen.


Difficulty: Medium
Aside from the awful controls that can play against you, the game’s targeting system makes fighting a bit difficult . . . especially when you’re up against three of them at once.  The creature intelligence varies from cutter to Brute but neither one is really all that bright since cutters can get stuck between crates of corners.  And the door-opening puzzles aren’t really hard thanks to all the information you store in your journal.


Concept: 6.0
Run Like Hell is not a very original idea but the story and characters are actually interesting enough care about.  Most of what you see in this game have been drawn out from Aliens and Resident Evil and combating the alien threat is done by extreme force.  It’s also good to see that the makers at least tried to break away from the typical shoot-them-up style and add several mini games spread throughout the game in the same way the Xbox’s Dead To Rights has done for its third-person shooter.  There are even chases similar to those seen in Shenmue where you have to press a certain button in time to jump or duck.


Overall: 5.0
While Run Like Hell plays in the same field as the Resident Evil games, the overall rushed product was in dire need of some serious polishing before it was released.  Unfortunately, all the game’s faults take away from the experience of what could have been a really entertaining survival-horror game with plenty of action and scares.  Gamers should stay clear of this one completely.


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