Run Like Hell Review

Run Like Hell is exactly like a B science fiction flick except you get to play it on your X-Box. From the standard plot (ex-war hero in deep space fighting through aliens on a space station to find his girlfriend) to the cast of actors (including Lance “Not bad for a human” Henricksen, Michael “They sucked his brains out!” Ironside, and Clancy “Medic!” Brown) this has Grade A pulp Sci-Fi written all over it. Except when you play it.

Overall, I actually really enjoyed Run Like Hell. Glancing over some of the reviews on the ‘Net I’d have to disagree with the complaints about graphics not being up to par. Frankly, they’re not supposed to be. The look of the space station and the feeling of dread and hopelessness you get around every turn is exactly how it goes in these types of movies. From the omnipresent humming of the power generators to the way the lighting goes from a well-lit cargo hold to a dimly lit corridor, everything is the way it would be should an alien force invade a space station. Or so I’m told from movies like the “Alien” series to “Creature” to even “Leprechaun in Space”.

You play Capt. Nick Conner, war hero demoted to running asteroid mining runs from a space station out on the far reaches of the galaxy. You return back one day and find everyone missing, the place trashed, and a 15′ tall beast wanting to take a piece out of your hide. Eventually you hook up with other survivors and try and figure out where everyone else is, what these aliens are, and how to stop them thereby saving the day. All in a day’s work.

The controls initially threw me because at first glance they’re pretty cumbersome. In the menu, for example, you have to push down on the control pad and pull the left trigger if you want to switch to the journal menu, then to scroll through those options you have to use the right thumbstick. Annoying at first, but Halo threw me at first as well. A conceit of having so many buttons on your game controller must be to have combinations in order to get anywhere. Of course, a better designed menu would have been another answer, but that’s just my uneducated suggestion.

What Run Like Hell boils down to eventually is “run (like Hell) here, grab (like Hell) key A then run (again like Hell) over to door A, unlock it then proceed on to next area”, all while fighting monsters that rip-off the creatures from “Aliens”. Combat wouldn’t be as repetitive as it is if you had to scramble for ammunition like in “Resident Evil” but in Run Like Hell you can shoot all day and night and never worry about your weapon going dry. You also can modify both the damage and the speed at which the guns fire with different mod chips scattered throughout the station, which makes it vital to scour each area completely.

In combat, you can target lock each enemy then just shoot them until they drop. Should they jump in your face, one button swings your gun and knocks the alien away from you. Sadly, most combat is one on one, and when it’s more than that you’re either dead quickly (should your gun not be as fast as it needs to be) or shooting and healing in equal parts.

It’s a fun and very atmospheric game, but with so much repetition throughout it can real old real quick. But then, all movies like this are more of the same so where’s the surprise?

The graphics aren’t the best the X-Box is capable of, but they are very good and suit the mood and the fell of the story very well. The cinematics (of which there are plenty) are well done and all the characters look very well done (of particular note is the lead character’s girlfriend- whoever rendered her needs to get out more). I liked how the station had a “lived-in” feel so whenever I was running around I could easily see how people were just here 24 hours prior going about their lives. The monsters look appropriately scary and fangy, and the weapon effects are nicely done as well.

The sound effects and the voice acting are really where “RLH” shines. With a stellar cast (and Kate Mulgrew), every character is brought to life with their own needs, personalities, and agendas. Henricksen really stands out as the gruff hero who’s past has come back to haunt him, and he’s well-matched by Brown who plays a decorated soldier demoted to station security officer. Both play off the other well and their strong rapport helps you care about them throughout. The atmospheric noises, creaks and clanks of the station help bring the environment to life, and the invaders hiss, growl, and snarl with appropriate menace.

The only fault here is the music gets fairly repetitive as it tends to play over and over in some sequences. On the flip side, the soundtrack is included in the game and it’s actually pretty dang good. Well worth listening to on your CD player.

The controls suck, at first. After an hour or two of playing they are pretty easy to get down, you just have to pay attention to the clues the pop up throughout the first part of the game. Once I got everything down, I didn’t have too many problems. I would sometimes reverse in my head what buttons did what. Another really awkward part is when you’re in combat and you track an enemy, but another one jumps into the fray. You can quickly jump between them, but I experienced some times where the lock would stay locked on one enemy until it was neutralized, then I could switch to the next. Kind of awkward while I’m getting pounded from the left, but I’m still shooting an alien to my right who’s on the other side of the room.

Take this for what you will, but I had a lot of fun playing despite the repetition, the awkward combat, and the bugs. Oh, I haven’t mentioned these yet? Imagine being halfway through a game, then when you put the game into your console it won’t load. It just sits on the loading screen for 20 minutes at 0% loaded. You wipe your save game and start over, only to have it lock the exact same way only at the chapter break. After posting about this on the Gone Gold forums, someone pointed out that the X-Box cache must be full, and that I should start up three games to clear it. I did so, and that fixed it. Now imagine trying to explain this to your boss who is already waiting on a review that should have been on his desk two weeks ago. Sounds fun, don’t it? As does drinking a toast with no glass, or you and your buddy climbing down a ladder with you nearest the bottom, but suddenly he’s down there ahead of you. There are several instances, but what’s the point?

Now, why did this game not get lower than a 70?

Because I still had a lot of fun with it, despite the bugs and repetition. I don’t know why, but it’s probably got to do with just how perfectly it captures that late-night Joe Bob Briggs sci-fi feel, and what a glutton for that I am.

Once you’ve been through it, nothing changes again. There are minigames aplenty so while playing through there is more than enough to do, but once you beat the game there really isn’t much point to playing again. I’d estimate between 15 and 20 hours worth of schlock value, probably a little more if you find yourself hooked on some of the minigames.

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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