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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Interplay

 

Developer

RenderWare

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Great sci-fi yarn
- Terrific voice acting
- Good presentation and control
- Cool weapon upgrades

 

 

- Lackluster camera makes most combat a chore
- A little heavy on the passcode hunting

 

 

Review: Resident Evil (GC)

Review: RLH (PS2)

Review: Terminator: Dawn of Fate (XB)

Review: Dead Space 2 (360)

 

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RLH

Score: 5.9 / 10

 

rlh xbox review         rlh xbox review

 

In gaming there’s nothing more infuriating than a potentially good game stabbed in the eye with a hot kebab by one or two key flaws that bring the whole thing down. And so it is with RLH, but I’ll get to the hot kebabs later.

RLH (short for Run Like Hell) puts you in the boots of Nicholas Conner who returns from a mining survey only to find Forseti Station now inhabited by a hyper aggressive alien species. Not only that, the station looks as though it’s being turned into a big red blob. It falls to you to round up the survivors – including your fiancé (hopefully still alive) and possibly escape. (Yes, you'll recognize nods to many sci-fi films.) Aside from the present situation, Connor also has to deal with the results of an interstellar war as a few of the “losing” side work at the station, not to mention the miners and scientists, which always seem to be butting heads. The station is

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not one big happy family, creating a level of believability that just adds to the overall story and tension of the game.

Connor goes into battle armed with some cool weaponry, which is pretty typical sci-fi fare. Many of the weapons can be outfitted with circuit board upgrades that improve your chances of staying alive. Then there’s one alien weapon that actually drains your like meter

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as you use it. Of course, finding these upgrades is a challenge in a station as big as Forseti.

The voice acting is superb. Lance Henriksen (Millennium, Aliens) has one of those voices I can listen to all day and he does a great job as Connor. You can’t help but recognize most of the other voices, especially if you’re a sci-fi junkie. Tom Wilson (Back to the Future, Wing Commander III) shows up and Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager) appears as a doctor. Instead of turning in over the top performances, which so often happens with games, RLH gets subtle, even normal-sounding dialogue from the cast (which also includes Michael Ironside and Brad Dourif).

RLH looks great with its claustrophobic corridors, wide-open hangers and some really unnerving aliens. Some areas tend to be on the dark side making points of interest – such as doors – harder to find than they need to be (that’s what your automap is for) but overall I have no complaints with RLH’s presentation. There are some clipping issues though. Connor can attack through doors if he’s right next to the door. This can be a lifesaver.

 

rlh xbox review         rlh xbox review


Most of RLH’s problems stem from an unresponsive and often jittery camera. If aliens are attacking head-on, the camera doesn’t present a problem – lock-on and blow them away. But if aliens are chasing Connor you’re bound to have problems. You can get Connor turned around quick enough to lock-on to a target and open fire but you won’t be able to see what you’re up against unless you manually rotate the camera with the right control stick or tap the left trigger. Either way, the movement is painfully slow and by the time it catches up it’s not directly centered on you. There are other problems too but it would just make me irritated to dwell on them, like the time a ceiling panel completely blocked my view or the instances of camera-flipping (most common when entering a new room). This reminds me a little of Terminator: Dawn of Fate which had an even worse camera. Actually, a far worse camera. RLH is miles ahead of that poor camera.

Another hot kebab in the eye is the amount of key hunting (or in this case, access code hunting). I really don’t mind hunting down keys and passcards but when I have to do it over and over I tend to get bored. To be absolutely fair, RLH has some deftly incorporated “mini-games” that create some tension and break up the action. (For the reflex impaired some of the challenges might overtax you.)

Many will have trouble swallowing the constant flow of enemies that continually drop in behind you in areas you've already cleared. Since you don't run out of ammo this does little more than prevent you from quick progression through the game.

RLH comes recommended for sci-fi fans that are game for some frustration with their gaming. It’s got some of the best voice acting around, some great suspense, a conglomeration of familiar sci-fi elements, and pretty neat weapon upgrades but the problematic camera and so-so puzzles means that RLH won’t become a classic and will no doubt cause a few headaches

- Omni
(May 10, 2003)

 

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