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Developer: Pendulo Studios
Publisher: Focus Home interactive/CDV
I’ll cut the custard with no slack on this review...because hands-down this game is challenging. For non-adventure fans you’ll probably get stuck on this game until the twelfth of never. If you’re an adventure gamer then you’ll still get stuck on this game a lot. Nevertheless, it doesn’t keep Runaway 2 from being a cartoonishly enjoyable experience. Well, despite being challenging.
Mixing PG-rated innuendo with PG-13 scenes of sultry sauciness, Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle is an over-the-top point-and-click adventure game that lays the frustration on heavy. Very heavy. It’s a good game, though. The story isn’t quite as thick as it may seem – there’s lots of puzzle solving in-between the plot unfolding, which stretches out the overall length of the story-arch. For point-and-click fans this isn’t much of a revelation, given that aside from Nancy Drew games, just about every adventure title on the market stretches out the storytelling elements with pointlessly difficult logic and scavenging puzzles.
Now don’t take my puzzle-pang as rote bashing. No, Runaway 2 is actually much better than most PC adventure titles. But before getting into the “good this...” and “bad that...” I should briefly cover what the game is actually about. Players will take on the role as the main character, Brian Basco, who is desperately searching for his shot-out-of-the-air-after-being-pushed-out-of-a-plane girlfriend. Wait, you didn’t catch that? Well, let me repeat it a bit more sensibily: Brian’s girlfriend, Gina, was pushed out of a plane that was going down fast. She was wearing a parachute, but that didn’t stop her from being shot out of the air. Brian, however, went down with the plane. Only so players could begin a very long and wacky journey that takes the lead character around the world and through very exotic locations (and meeting equally exotic characters).
The controls are simple enough and the interfaces are mostly out of the way so players can glutton their optical senses on the snazzy visuals. Pendulo did a fan-darn-tastic job ensuring that just about anyone can pick-up and play Runaway 2. However, only adventure fans will be inclined to belt out this adventure. The puzzles and logic quests require some intuitive thinking and keen ears. Oh yes, you’ll actually have to pay attention to what characters say in this game. Solving many of the problems, puzzles, etc., required brief and sometimes unrepeatable hints by some of the characters. Fans of other popular point and click games (i.e., Broken Sword, Syberia, etc.,) might find themselves with a bit more of a challenge in Runaway 2. Yet it’s nothing so terrible that it would make you want to throw the DVD at the wall. Sort of like earlier Kings Quest games...namely Kings Quest VI.
Graphically, the developers put a lot into Runaway 2. The cel-shaded models and smoothly animated characters come off with a seamless appeal set against the varied and uniquely painted backdrops. Every location has a definitive look that captures the essence of the atmosphere being portrayed in the game. And cinematically everything is still setup much like a classic point-and-click adventure...so there’s not a lot of visual work with the camera. Some newer adventure titles like the Dreamfall games or Indigo Prophecy, prompted for a more movie-like charm with the camera shots. But all-in-all, Runaway 2 stands on a solid visual platform. And nitpicking on the camera work is only for those who are really into the visual aesthetics of a game.
It’s safe to say, though, that the audio aspects of Runaway 2 certainly hold their own. From the N’Sync-esque intro song to the electronic ambient tunes, Runaway 2's soundtrack is actually pretty cool. The sound effects and atmospheric noises were all on queue and the voice-acting, from all the characters, was also quite good. The varied selection of dialogue to engage in is upheld from each personality in the game with grade-A integrity. It’s funny because in a lot of triple-A titles one of the biggest flaws in the sound department is from the hired actor/sports star/singer/etc., sounding as if they really didn’t want to put their all into the performance. So it’s quite the opposite here in Runaway 2, and the payoff is consistently entertaining.
If I did have a gripe with anything involving sound, per se, it was that at times I felt there was a little too much narrative from Brian, when it was time to describe certain actions. Yet the narrative, in retrospect, was necessary because the camera shots are usually at a distance, so players can see the surrounding area. It’s not a problem at all, but it does seem slightly out of place at times when instead of just doing a specific task Brian will first narrate what he’s about to do and why.
Overall, though, Runaway 2: Dream of the Turtle offers adventure fans a long and hardy trip down point-and-click nostalgia lane. It features the latest in sound and visuals, but the experience is nevertheless unmatched by its oldschool soul. Think-worthy puzzles and logic employing quests will keep any point-and-click afficionado busy for a very long time. Runaway 2 is purely a challenging game that adventure gamers will undoubtedly enjoy.