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Vladimir Prokhorov
Vladimir Prokhorov

Escape From Paradise City Game

Blending genres is always a tricky recipe. A pinch of RPG, a dash of FPS, and a hint of... some other acronym and, voila!:You've got the tastiest game on the market... or just plain alphabet soup? Unfortunately for Sirius Games, designers of action-RPG/RTS/GTA-clone Escape from Paradise City, their genre-blending plans never quite come together into a decent meal.

Escape From Paradise City Game


Things start out fun, if a tad clichéd: you're a former criminal, given a last chance to redeem yourself. Your mission: infiltrate the worst city in the world and kick enough ass to bring it to heel. Problem is, though, ass kicking turns out to be a lot more boring than it sounds. See, combat in Escape consists solely of choosing an attack type from a menu of four and then right clicking on an enemy. That's it. You don't even have to click multiple times. Since your character is generally much tougher than his opponents, battles become little more than point-and-click chores to be endured on the way to leveling up.

On the surface, CDV's Escape from Paradise City seems like an old premise done to death, but a supernatural thread woven in and out of its polygons is enough to tweak our interest. Escape from Paradise City is an RTS-RPG in development for PC that drops you into the shoes of an NSA agent who has to go undercover to infiltrate the criminal underworld in Paradise City. Your goal is to climb the law-braking ranks to ultimate crime boss and then take out the crime lord currently ruling the roost. Yes, we've heard that one a million times before but the crime lord's "more than your average thug - or average human," CDV explains, with a hint that something far more sinister lurks behind the boss's hold on power. The game world appears to be a dark and gritty dystopia, and you can view it for yourself inthese (opens in new tab)new screenshots. Escape from Paradise City should be out later in the year.

Escape from Paradise City is a real-time strategy and role playing game set in a sprawling contemporary environment. It claims inspiration from La Femme Nikita, with its main characters all forced to work for a shady government organisation. It's set for worldwide release on 18th October 2007, so there's not much time left for the developers, who also made Gangland, to make their final touches. However, the fact that they'd found time to fly into London and show their work-in-progress build shows some confidence in how it's coming along. They were kind enough to give us the full rundown of life in Paradise City and then left us with a near-finished copy of the game to play with.

The developers admit that the idea for the game came from the film La Femme Nikita, in which a cop killer is forced to become a government-trained assassin. This setup has transplanted straight into the game, with three playable characters all forced to do the government's dirty work. Unlike Luc Besson's arty French masterpiece, though, Escape from Paradise City doesn't take itself that seriously--as shown by the gleefully clichéd characters, such as Boris, the big Russian henchman, and Angel, the sassy female assassin. Boris is a natural-born leader who has no trouble converting henchmen to his cause, whereas Angel is deadly in close quarters.

While the story's setup might sound like standard gaming hokum, the gameplay itself seems unique. As the developers are keen to ram home, it's one of the few RPG/RTS mixes on the market right now, meaning that you control your characters from an overhead view with the mouse and level their skills up as you progress. But that's not all--the game even offers an over-the-shoulder action view, which gives an offensive advantage, particularly in multiplayer. In the standard view, the combat takes inspiration from the mouse-clicking action of World of Warcraft, but the third-person viewpoint is intended to give a bit of variety for those yearning for something a little different.

The city itself is nowhere near as open as the ones featured in Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown, but it does have some nice touches. As the sun sets and night creeps up on Paradise City, its residents turn on the lights in their houses and the world begins to cast dynamic shadows. The cloud formations also give you some indication of impending rain, and you'll hear some of the citizens of Paradise City making comments as you wander around. There's also a series of onscreen tips to help you get accustomed to the environment, as well as updated from a mysterious government figure called Kovacs, who sounds eerily similar to the same figure in Real Time Worlds' Crackdown.

In terms of gameplay, Escape from Paradise City has a strange mix of advanced and rather dated features. You can't, for example, get into a car and drive it around the city yourself--instead you have to hop in a taxi and tell it where to go. This limitation also leads to one other noticeable omission from the gameworld--the lack of any vehicles other than cars. On the plus side, we liked the ability to phone artificial intelligence-controlled allies during a gunfight, who promptly arrived and automatically provided covering fire. There are also some cool small ideas, such as the ability to bribe the mayor to get more gangs on your side, as well as using satellites to highlight everything in the neighbourhood on your in-game map.

While the single-player game will supposedly offer 20 hours of gameplay, it will also have support for up to eight people in online or local multiplayer. One mode is just about straight assassinations--killing the most number of people within an allotted time. Another will be about capturing the safe houses in the game, meaning that your enemies will not be able to respawn. The 13 maps will be rehashed from the single-player game, but they'll offer various sizes of arena to suit different numbers of players.

The team at Sirius is approaching the end of its two-year development cycle, and it's clearly proud of what it's managed to achieve. The world doesn't compare graphically to those in the latest blockbuster titles, but there's a nostalgic charm to the simplicity of its gameplay. Hopefully Sirius has packed in enough clever ideas and imagination into the game to bring something fresh to the table. We'll find out if it's managed to pull it off when the game lands this October on the PC.

But even with all of the player-development frills and the strategic layer of gameplay, there isn't much overall depth here. Although neighborhoods differ in terms of their goodies, they all offer the same challenge. You run in, kill everybody you can find with simplistic right-click combat, loot the bodies, then take out the boss--over and over again. There is little variety in your actions. Enemies frequently show some smarts and run off for help if they're near death, but other than that, you simply move forward while mindlessly whomping everything that moves. As the game progresses and gets harder, you at least have to take more care in setting up attacks. After a certain point fairly early on, you can no longer just waltz into enemy territory and kick butt until the bad guys acknowledge that there's a new boss in town. Nevertheless, even when you have to adopt measures such as calling in allied gangbangers from adjoining neighborhoods to cut down enemy numbers before going in yourself, or even using a power or two, the end result is still a lot of repetitive fighting. And this also forces you into extra busywork in that you usually end up taking over all of the easy neighborhoods on a map so you can surround a tough one and swarm it with goons.

Tiresome visuals add to the sense that you're repeating yourself. Paradise City generally looks very good, with lots of grimy detail and a ghetto vibe conveyed through clotheslines and spray-painted walls, but you're forced to trudge through the same urban wasteland in every neighborhood. Streets and alleys are festooned with identical hot-dog carts, neon bar signs, and hanging laundry. Ads for the same Nokia products and CDV games can be found on billboards throughout the city as well. Advertising in games is annoying enough, but it's extra irritating when the signs display the same handful of products ad nauseam. Bars, stores, and hotels all feature similar layouts, and boss hideouts boast almost exactly the same furniture, right down to matching oriental rugs. Everything is also extremely dark, and the city is tough to navigate at times because of the narrowness of the alleys and the height of the buildings. Only the voice samples keep the action feeling fresh, given that there seem to be hundreds of different lines. Most are cornball action-hero fare like "You ordered the lead salad?", but they're spoken with an over-the-top tone and are so varied that they don't get stale until you're well into the midway point of the game. And the voice clips nicely compensate for the barely noticeable techno score that sounds like a cheap riff on those old John Carpenter tunes that adorned his '80s movies...such as Escape From New York (that's probably not a coincidence).

Better than it looks at first glance yet not as good as it could be, Escape From Paradise City settles for mediocrity when it could have aspired to much more. The game mechanics and character development are more interesting than you might expect from a game like this, but with more imaginative level design, better graphics, and better multiplayer, this could have been a much better game. If you can get past the game's repetitive gameplay and visuals, you could still say that Escape From Paradise City is better than it looks at first glance, though perhaps that's not saying much.

The Escape from Paradise City drops players into a dystopian world that combines a dark underworld and elements of the supernatural. In the game, the player is required to infiltrate the gangs of Paradise City on behalf of a powerful government agency that, despite its influence, has been unable to introduce even a glimmer of law and order to this horribly corrupt city. In an entertaining chapter driven story, the player takes turns controlling one of three gritty characters that have volunteered to get to the bottom of the mystery behind the controlling crime syndicates power 350c69d7ab


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