Beefjack was recently invited to a London venue to test drive Prison Break: The Conspiracy and learn more about the game before it’s release next month. Here are our impressions.
Whether you’re a Fox River fanatic or Prison Break newbie, Zootfly and Koch Media are aiming to satisfy your stealth gaming needs in March 2010.
Prison Break: The Conspiracy runs parallel with the first season of the Fox TV show and puts players in the prison-issued boots of a brand new character: Tom Paxton. Voiced by videogame veteran David Boat, Paxton is a Company agent who is sent undercover into Fox River State Penitentiary to discover why structural engineer Michael Scofield, who has no previous convictions, held up a bank and is now in the same facility as his brother.
If you are a Prison Break newbie, this is the perfect time to briefly run you through the plot of the show: Lincoln Burrows is framed for the murder of the Vice President’s brother and, as the intelligent half of the duo, his brother Michael intentionally gets caught holding up a local bank to be sent into Fox River and with the aid of his full-body tattoo (that acts as blueprints for the prison) attempts to free his innocent brother from Death Row.
One of the biggest positives of the game is how it looks. The characters look identical to their silver screen counterparts in every way and are instantly recognisable. Michael, Lincoln, T-Bag, Abruzzi, C-Note and Captain Bellick were all featured in the opening chapters of the game and alongside their likeness, the actors have all gone into the studio to add their voice to the part.
Alongside the characters, the environments could have been pulled from a DVD screen grab. Koch’s promise of ‘attention to detail’ was certainly not an understatement as A-wing (where the prisoners are housed) and the courtyard are reproduced almost to the blade of grass with the bleachers, basketball courts and impressive watch towers all very much adding to the feeling of the show. Die-hard fans will be pleased to know that the attention to detail goes very deep – the main characters are in the correct cells both in terms of location and number.
The look of the game certainly matches that of the series but by having a new character, the game won’t exactly play out as the series did. Realistically, this wouldn’t be very practical as much of the drama in the show was created by it’s timing and build-up to events which works for TV but not necessarily for games. Zootfly have countered this by including key plot points but this time from the view of Paxton. You’ll be sneaking into the infirmary, sneaking through the kitchen and generally sneaking everywhere else too.
Sneaking is the name of Paxton’s game and certainly in the first few chapters, he does a lot of it. You’ll know when you need to stay quiet as the screen darkens round the edges and Tom automatically crouches. You can of course stand him back up again but run the risk of being caught, which depending on your skill level, happens quite a lot. When you’re sneaking and get spotted, up to three red lines will appear on your screen in the direction that you’re being seen. It works like the grenade indicator in Call of Duty. One strip means you’ve been spotted, two means you need to hide, if you’ve not moved when the meter reaches three you’re pretty much done for and you’ll need to continue from the last checkpoint. Fortunately, you’ll not have to start entire sections again and can start off from the last safe point, meaning you’ll not be repeating (and completing) the same tasks only to fail at a later point and be hauled to the very beginning.
As for the missions, which is where you do most of your sneaking, most of those near the beginning of the game were ultimately fetch tasks from key characters. Abruzzi and C-Note both ask Paxton to retrieve items for them in return for a favour or protection and Paxton duly obliges. Many of these tasks were simple and we’re hoping they evolve into something more substantial as the game progresses. Guards, cameras and climbing puzzles make a good introduction but again, we’re hoping for some variety in later chapters.
Aside from the missions, the game offers other activities to keep you busy: Working on your strength using the punchbag or weights via minigames helps to break up the gameplay but won’t keep your attention for long. That said, they are available any time you have access to the courtyard and will help you build strength for the other activity – underground fighting. Simple controls of block, light attack, strong attack, finish and dash make the system easy to learn but don’t expect too much from it as the focus of the game is Paxton’s stealth. Collision detection between the players didn’t always seem to be bang on but was good enough to provide an entertaining fight.
The game’s Versus mode uses the fighting found in the single player and expands on it. Pick from one of seven characters, your opponent and one of four arenas and you’re away. The characters are rated on speed and strength and three rounds later you’ll know who’s the champion. It might not sound too grand but the spectacle of seeing Michael and Lincoln go fist-to-face is something that will appeal to fans from the outset. Unfortunately, there was no option for online play but there’s room to grow in the Versus mode if extra characters and more arenas are added.
Overall, Prison Break: The Conspiracy is shaping up to be a good game that will appeal to fans of the series who will enjoy revisiting the favoured storyline of the first season and experiencing the stand-out moments for themselves. The voice acting from the cast (particularly Lincoln and T-Bag) come across as believable and when added to the likeness of the characters, the title becomes a tasty prospect for fans of the series. Even if you’ve never experienced the show there’s plenty here for you. Being told the storyline of the show and paying through Paxton’s arc will certainly not be dull but you’ll clearly be missing the déjà vu factor that will make the experience even more complete for the fan of the series.
Regardless of your overall thoughts of the game when it is released in March, there is no denying that Koch Media and Zootfly are worthy contenders for best use of a license. The effort to make the game as close to the show as possible will most definitely be respected by fans.
Prison Break: The Conspiracy is released worldwide on March 26 2010 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.