You might remember that we did a preview of Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle a while ago. Finally I've gotten chance to sit down with the retail version of the game and plug away at it. Now I am a huge point and click adventure fan so games like this are few and far between. I remember the glory days of such wonderful titles as:
Beneath a Steel Sky
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Those are just a few examples of the ones that I could list. Then you have the whole early Broken Sword series and the first Runaway game of course. Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle, now known by me as Runaway 2 takes a cell-shaded cartoon graphical stab at the point and click genre, and the early code impressed me greatly both in terms of ease of use and graphical style.
So now we're looking at the retail disk and what can I say. I like this game quite a lot, it's not one of those mind-blowing OMG classics that people are frightened to rave about and there seems to be a trend by the big guns out there to score something lower because they might get torn apart by some Internet Bloggers or on a forum because they dared to have an opinion, the door swings both ways folks.
Runaway 2 slots nicely in the point and click genre, it's not trying to re-invent the wheel or bring something brand new to the table. Its doing the old dance and doing it well enough to warrant a fairly decent score on our system, which is a system, aimed at gamers - one that you can look at and say, yeah, this is fun to play.
So the preamble is out of the way, let's get down to it as they say in Sin City. Brian and Gina (the game's hero and heroine) are immersed in a story that involves more twists and turns than a rollercoaster made by someone who has eaten too much sugar. The whole story of the game is told in cell-shaded well directed cut-scenes that are sometimes highly amusing, sometimes they might miss the mark humour wise but they're still good for a chuckle or two.
There are a lot of exotic fun locations to be found in the game and it certainly works well for the age rating of 12. It's not a blood and guts game, a hyper realistic game or one of those titles that will test your reflexes - it will test your ability to think outside the box and solve various segments of a puzzle to open the way forwards or remove an obstacle.
You'll be combining things with other things in no time at all. You'll learn how to use items on the environment fairly quickly and the way the interface works isn't confusing, unlike some of the games. It's fairly obvious most of the time what you need to do and where you need to go, some of the puzzles are a little obtuse and they might daunt the first time adventure gamer in this respect.
That's pretty much it for the gameplay though, traditional point and click magic (how we've missed you)
The locations in Runaway 2 are all extremely well detailed; the graphics for the main character and the environments are perfectly suited. I love this new look cell-shading for this kind of game and it works really well. It does have a few problems where you might be looking for an item but you're not quite sure where to find it, it's blended in somewhat to the background and doesn't quite stand out at times.
The level of detail on the characters is great and it's not surprising the full install is around 5GB considering what's on offer. There a good feeling of character to the models, the faces and the design are spot on and they remind me of a cartoon style I've seen in some of the French animations I've viewed in my lifetime. The attention to detail doesn't stop with the environments and graphics, it continues in the actual animations themselves.
Every character, major or minor is fluidly animated and the game's cut-scenes are brought to life with a superb attention to motion. There's some nice direction in both terms of visual scenes and movement, with the action sequences being especially good and nothing feels really jerky or false.
The game also boasts some nice music and sound, there's a real feeling of theme to the various places that makes me wish there was a stand alone soundtrack that I could pop into my CD player whilst I did some more of my creative writing projects. The OST for the game would be a definite bonus and if anyone knows if there's one I'd appreciate a heads up on a forum post.
The spot effects are well done, there's a good use of audio both in terms of sound effects and the various natural environmental sounds. Like flowing rivers and so on, these bring to life the locations nicely. The voice acting isn't bad, it's not Oscar winning performances but there are some nice dialogues from the various characters, again the lines are delivered mostly without flaw, though there were some character voices that I felt didn't really fit or they just grated on my nerves a little too much.
So with a good quality soundtrack, good audio, decent voices and a twisting story that will keep you on your toes the graphical environments and characters of Runaway 2 are brought to life. There shouldn't be a problem with people getting used to the interface and there's definitely a lot of quality puzzles that are lurking away in the game waiting to test your brain and cause smoke to pour out of your ears.
I'd say that most people who yearn for the old days of point and click adventure games need to give this one a go, some of the humour might be a little lost but the whole experience is good enough and wrapped around a decent enough story - it makes you want to play to the end and find out what's going on and why there are certain things involved and so on.
It's the mark of a good game, not a classic title and certainly not one that claims to re-invent the genre.