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World War II: Prisoner of War

Score: 50%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Wide Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

World War II: Prisoner of War (POW) features the kind of graphics most people expect from a 3D adventure game: Clean textures, simple animation, and a pleasing appearance. Nothing to drop your jaw, mind you, and there are times the whole thing chugs along at far too slow a pace. But the system requirements are relatively low, and the game does look pretty good.

Sound is generally very good. There are lots of voiceovers, ambient effects, and a really fitting soundtrack. The German soldiers sometimes sound more like extras from some old TV show instead of the real thing though.


Your character, Captain Lewis Stone, an American pilot who's been shot down over Germany, is tasked with escaping from a prison camp. It's a lonely sort of camp, though, as there are only two other prisoners. You must obtain information from them, as they will help you figure out how to escape.

The low population count isn't the only thing strange about this camp. It appears to be extremely clean, and run by a group of soldiers that are strict but pretty friendly. If they have to shoot at you, you do not die. You end up in the infirmary, and lose some time, but that's about it. You also cannot kill soldiers. This is a friendly kind of game.

Game play in POW is comprised of gathering information and then performing stealthy maneuvers to further your pursuit for freedom. The prison camp has a schedule, and it's very important you follow it precisely. If you don't, you will end up in trouble, and lose more time. And time is important, as you will not successfully complete the game if you let the clock tick away without making progress.

If you succeed in the various missions with a high grade, then you can unlock Secrets, which at least provides some added incentive to complete or replay the game. But in the end, without the gadgets or violence other similar games offer, POW just isn't very exciting.


Since the control scheme is not simple to use, it is difficult to control Captain Stone, and this makes keeping the schedule and remaining stealthy a laborious affair. You are given a journal, map, and even in-game hints to help, but objectives are sometimes so sketchy that you are not sure what to do at any given time.

In addition, once you reveal yourself to guards, you are unlikely to get away. The game boasts that you can hide in many locations, and provides many methods of remaining unseen, but in the end you only have one chance at surviving an encounter.

Game Mechanics:

As mentioned above, the control scheme is pretty lame. And actually, all the control schemes appear to be lame! Some of them, such as the Combo scheme, did not work at all on this reviewer's system, and the Mouse control scheme worked once, but not a second time. Using the Keyboard control scheme worked reliably, but was very cumbersome. Combine poor control with a camera that doesn't remain behind Captain Stone, and you have one difficult to deal with game.

Saving games is pretty straightforward, and relies on using the bunkhouse. This is a rather original system, and works well. The game supports both 3rd and 1st person perspectives, but the latter doesn't allow movement unless you unlock it via a Secret. Other aspects of the user interface, while somewhat clumsy, seem to work in a sensible manner.

Overall, I cannot recommend POW unless the content just really appeals to you. Even someone looking for a really tame game, possibly one to play with children, will be turned off by the adult themes presented. Between the ridiculous control schemes, the poor camera control, and the lackluster subject matter, this game just isn't worth your time.

-Gordy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Gary Lucero

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP Professional, Pentium III/4 or Athlon 500, 128MB RAM, 16MB DirectX 8.1 compliant 3D graphics card, 16-bit DirectX 8.1 compliant sound card, 8x CD-ROM.

Test System:

Windows XP Professional, 2 GHz Pentium 4, 256MB RAM, GeForce 4 TI4200 graphics card with 64MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live! Value, 32x DVD-ROM.

Windows The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal Windows RestoreIt! 3

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