Escape From Paradise City Review

In Paradise City both the name of the game and the game city, the player takes on the role of a young ambitious gangster with the single goal of becoming the most successful and influential criminal in the entire city.

  • In Paradise City, the player can move through the city, robbing, intimidating and killing all that stand in his way, gaining notoriety and cool cash. As the player becomes more and more notorious, his influence grows and other criminals flock to him and become the core of this gang, his own criminal organization.
  • Leading his small but vicious crew of hardcore criminals, the player begins to take over the neighbourhoods of the city, forcing the innocent citizens to pay him tribute and the local criminals to serve him, fighting against his rivals and defending his territories.
  • Using his influence, the player may call upon allied criminals organizations and corrupt officials to manipulate events in his favour: calling in extra man power to fight in vicious back alley shot outs, making the police look the other way or in other ways helping in his quest for the absolute underworld domination.

I previewed this one this summer and was intrigued by some of the prospects. I waited to see if they cleaned it up, and really made it sparkle. Au contraire.

My setup:
Athlon MP 2.2GHz
Powercolor ATI 9800 Nvidia 6800GT
NVidia II Sound processor

From the get go, I had trouble with the video in this game. I couldn’t get it to start full screen and I chose Windowed mode. The opening movie is all fuzzy. I can barely make out the 72 bold font used in the title screens! At least the windowed mode got me going, but now the resolution was causing the bottom of the game to be obscured by my start bar. Well, alright then maybe we can undo the option I chose for Windowed mode. Umm, nope. I appear to be locked into window mode.* So I can run the game in 1024×768 on my normally 1280×1024 desktop and that seems to work. If you call that working. Oh dear.

In game, things look a little better. There are two camera angles in the game. The standard is a lengthy overhead view with some options to zoom in, but not very close. The second view gets you into a steeper angle for better viewing of the distance; which is good for looking into buildings. Here we get a better view of the dirty streets and walls, but there is nothing really outstanding about them.

* After some help from the support, which was quick and responsive, the Windowed mode issue can be taken care of in two ways: edit the RendererOGL.INI file in notepad, or uninstall/reinstall the game. This seems like a pretty large oversight to not have a simple openGLconfig.exe that does this for those with less technical skills. I was sure this was a problem with my video card, but I changed it out to no avail. Funny thing is that when I edited the INI file and tried to start the game it was at THAT time that the window asking for video options popped up again. Oy!

The sounds are the same as in the preview. The city is hustling and bustling, although not nearly as noisy as it should be. That’s not a huge detraction, but it loses a couple points in the realism category. There are no honking of horns as I jaywalk, there are no loud screams or pleas for mercy as I open fire on the sidewalk, and there are no sirens from emergency crews checking out the victims or general commotion. Perhaps this hood is just that tough, but given the quality of streets and shops I don’t think it is. To be fair, there is some commotion raised by the denizens, but they seem to be very far away. It’s a fine line, but I thought this one falls just off the wrong side of that line.

The dialogue is stiff and the voice acting is average. It’s not a large distraction, and some of it is above average. Overall, however, it is pretty forgettable. The FBI agent, that largely acts as the tutorial guy, is probably the most convincing, and the Angel Vargas actor was not convincing at all.

The control system can’t be too much simpler. It’s a largely “chase the mouse” movement system. Right-click on the map and your character chases the point. Left-click the map and you can swivel the camera angle in nearly any way you’d want. Left-click a (friendly) person to interact, and the mousewheel zooms a bit in and out.

The number keys can be used to execute special moves (or just click them with your mouse) that you gain with experience. They’re pretty straightforward, but the options let you remap things as you see fit. Hooray for the power of a PC and its keyboard. The control is very simple, and very standard so nothing exciting.

When you level up you get to choose powers. There are different skill trees to consider. However, these powers do not translate to any special effects on the screen. Also, they seem to be pretty balanced which makes it difficult to choose, but difficult to choose incorrectly as well. Perhaps in multi-player we’d find out which is best against the others.

The gameplay isn’t really what you’d call in-depth. You are one of 3 main characters with something to do for this zealot FBI agent to regain what you consider freedom. This pretty much consists of following points on a map, rudimentary battles with local thugs or what not, and looting the cash and experience. You capture ‘hoods to increase your influence which adds to your power pool, and can even control a set of minions to help the dirty job of running a city.

However, the game doesn’t have the grit and atmosphere that even the original Grand Theft Auto did, and doesn’t have the minion model akin with Dungeon Keeper, or Overlord. Maybe it’s me, but running around and killing things without needing to aim or use much of any form of tactics got old pretty quickly. Playing as the corrupt detective, Boris, I have to run into the middle of heavy gunfire to get my bodyguard into the fight, and even then he doesn’t do a good job of taking aggro or much damage. Not having a seperate control system for him seems to defeat the purpose of having him there in the first place.

The multiplayer aspect could not be tested as I found 0 servers to find any action.

Perhaps the multi-player feature will turn out to be the thug’s saviour here. As of right now the game seems to have enough issues and holes to prevent a lot of replay time, and that’s not good for the value score.  It also suffers from a small form of identity crisis. It has skills and experience, but it’s not really an RPG. There’s shooting and combat, but it is not a real shooter since you just click buttons. You don’t aim or use cover or anything along those lines. There are skills that says you do these things, but there is nothing in game that shows you it is going on.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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