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Boiling Point: Road to Hell

Score: 60%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Deep Shadows
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Mission-Based Driving

Graphics & Sound:

Boiling Point: Road to Hell is a game whose ambition is bigger than it's technology. The game shoots for the stars in nearly ever facet of gameplay, yet a host of technical issues make it nearly unplayable or just outright silly.

If you plan on seeing Boiling Point at its fullest, invest in an upgrade. The game requires a top of the line computer and even manages to outdo some of the better known spec-hogs like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2. I had no problem running both of those games, but found myself constantly tweaking just to get Boiling Point to run at a decent clip. If you have what it takes to run the game in all its glory, get ready for a visual stunner; for the rest of us, the game still looks okay but really doesn't stand out as anything special once you remove all the little graphical niceties.

To its credit, Boiling Point presents a giant world for you to explore. The first instinct I had was to compare the game to Far Cry, not just because a large part of the game takes place in jungles, but you can pretty much go anywhere you want. If you see a building in the distance, you can eventually make it over there. You'll have to deal with a few long loading times along the way, but still, it's a nice addition to gameplay.

Sound is a mired mess of things going on and serves as a nice audio representation of what you can expect from gameplay. Arnold Vosloo (the mummy from “The Mummy” movies) provides the look and voice for the game’s main character, Saul Meyers. Similar to my experience with Area-51, the voice acting is okay, but it just feels like he's playing himself, not some character in a game. Lines are delivered very flatly and sound like they're just being read off a piece of paper. The performance isn't phoned-in; there's just really nothing notable or exciting about it. Once you get into the dialogue, some of the sillier aspects of the game begin to pop out, like characters referring to things that either haven't happened yet or you really shouldn't know about, killing the immersion the developers were trying to set up with the game.

Music and sound effects are decent, but loud. I've often used the phrase "doesn't get in the way of gameplay" when referring to music and have, at one point or another, been asked what I meant by that. For a good example of music that gets in the way, see Boiling Point. Both the music and the ambient sound effects are turned up way too loud and seem to be fighting each other at all times for your attention. Meanwhile, you're trying to make sense of dialogue or just trying to play the game -- so the little battle going on in your speakers becomes more of a distraction than something to help get you into gameplay.


Gameplay:

Boiling Point is the latest in the Grand Theft Auto-styled games to come out in the last few years. Similar to GTA, or Far Cry, the game presents you with an open world that you can explore at your own leisure. As your travel the area, you can take on missions to earn money, an important thing to have, or just push the game’s narrative along. You play as Saul Meyers, a former French Legionnaire whose daughter, Lisa, is kidnapped while in Realia, a fictional area in South America. You begin your mission in the small town of Puerto Somba and soon learn that the nation is a lawless hotbed of corruption, so in order to do anything, you'll either have to pay off the right people or perform certain favors for them.

Your main objective throughout the game, besides rescuing your daughter, is to earn as much cash as you can. In order to get anywhere in the game, you're going to need to pay people off. In order to raise the proper funds, you'll have to take on missions, and it seems like everyone in the town has some "on the side" project for you. The more work you do for a particular group, the more favor you'll gain with them. At the same time, you'll also earn the ire of their rivals. So, if you want to get in good with the government, you'll have to get on the Mafia’s bad side. I never reached the point in the game where I was completely brick-walled by a particular group, though some will be less willing to help you out if you're not on their side. It's impossible to keep everyone happy, so you can't do everything in one play through, adding some replay value to the game.

The number of missions available is varied, so you'll never get really bored with what's going on. The problem is that they aren't explained well enough and the set up and conclusions really don't tie into the game all that well. Once you complete a mission, you're given a simple "Mission Complete" and money. As a result, missions feel detached from the rest of the game, causing them to feel hollow upon completion.

Giving players a big environment to explore and no transportation is a bad idea, which is why Saul has access to number of vehicles at his disposal. As you complete missions, you can eventually acquire all manner of transportation, from jeeps and cars to tanks and boats. Obviously, you'll have to play a little longer to get to the good stuff, but its worth it once you do -- especially since the later vehicles handle so much better than those you get at the game's start. Even with the later rides, driving is a pain. Cars are nearly impossible to handle at times, so you're more likely to slam into a tree or building rather than take a turn.


Difficulty:

Without getting into the game's major technical errors, which are numerous even after patches, Boiling Point can still get pretty hard. First you have to deal with floaty aiming that rarely seems to hit its intended target. Saul’s weapons' skills get better with use and add a bit of an RPG twist to the game, making aiming a little more tolerable. However, getting to the point where you can actually hit things with a reasonable amount of accuracy is a long road. Even with the best of aim, it's impossible to take down the supermen you'll find yourself up against. Not only does it seem like enemies can dodge bullets, but some can take up to three or four shots in the head before going down.

Another major flaw is that Boiling Point takes the whole "faction" thing a little too far. Realia is a dangerous place as it seems like everyone is packing heat -- even the civilians. Even if you accidentally gun down a civilian, either because you're getting so frustrated with the game or because of the terrible aim, you'll find yourself pinned down in a gunfight with everyone on the street. So, before you start gunning down just anyone, know that everyone in the game rolls deep.


Game Mechanics:

It's hard to know where to begin when pointing out Boiling Point's technical flaws since they're so numerous. Right out of the box, the game is nearly unplayable thanks to constant crashes, lock-ups or things just not working the way they should. I've also heard of other people experiencing deletions of game saves, though I can't confirm or deny this since I never had the problem happen to me. A patch has recently been made available that cleans up a few of the major problems and improves the playability of the title greatly, but even after that, you'll still hit technical snags that kill what has the potential to be a great time.

Once again looking past the technical issues, Boiling Point is still a clunky game to get into. I've already mentioned the controls, so I won't get into that, but what I haven't mentioned is the annoying interface set up. The number of missions in the game provides that you'll never reach a point in the game where you simply can't go anywhere. Solving missions can, however, become tricky since you're only given a simple X on your map screen to denote the general area where your mission is. After reaching that area, you're left to figure things out for yourself. Exploration is always a fun thing to do, but I don't thinks it's asking too much for some kind of visual cues to at least let me know I'm going in the right direction.

It's evident that the developers really knew where they wanted to go with Boiling Point. The basic premise of the game is exciting and really brings a whole new angle to the typical shooter way of doing things. It's unfortunate then that the basic things that go into making games playable were lost somewhere within the grand vision for the game. Things improve with the patch, and according to the developer, a new patch is already on the way. In the end, Boiling Point is what I'd call a fixer-upper of a game. What you have now isn't too bad and shows potential, but the number of flaws present in the game make seeing the promise a difficult task. If you have the patience to wait through a few patches, Boiling Point could become a much better game down the road.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 2000/XP; P4 2Ghz or equivalent (P4 3Ghz or equivalent reccomended); 512 MB RAM (1024 MB RAM reccomended); 128 MB VRAM (256 MB VRAM recommended); 4096 MB Hard Drive Space; 8X DVD-ROM; DirectX 9.0c
 

Test System:



Windows XP; Pentium 4 1.8 GHz; Radeon 9250 256 MB; 40 Gig HD; 640 MB RAM; DirectX 9.0c; Cable Internet Connection

Windows Area-51 Nintendo DS Madagascar

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated