Players:1
Price: $14.95
Platform(s):PS2
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Agetec
ESRB: Teen
Website:www.Agetec.com
Rating:

So what happens when you combine B-movie disaster flick elements and turn it into a romantic adventure game? You get Agetec’s Raw Danger, a campy, ugly little gem that provides some entertaining moments amongst old-school concepts and mildly underwhelming disaster effects. Still, it’s not bad for its starting gate price.

When a game launches for under $20 a pop (that’s right, UNDER), you have to question what’s wrong with it: Defective gameplay? Inoperable controls? A clumsy playing schematic? Well, in this case it’s a semblance to none of the above. And while the game has its fair share of problems, Raw Danger works fine for what it is. More than anything it’s the low presentation qualities that warrant its easily affordable retail price. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had or that you won’t be mildly entertained by this game. Oh, it’s quite the contrary.

Much in the same way that people have confused Capcom’s “excellent” storytelling with laughable dialogue and cheesy plots, Raw Danger is a game that makes these faults apparent with its underachiving voice-acting, yet intriguing story premise. The game contains a simple gameplay mechanic that’s put to use with a handful of playable characters from the metropolis, Geo City, who are put through a string of disastrous events that are caused by a flood, on the very Eve of Christmas.



The game starts off rather slow, with players taking control of a lowly waiter and must tend to menial tasks. But within twenty minutes or so, players are thrust into the sweeping action of back-to-back scenarios that involve surviving one catastrophic occurrence after another. Players will alternate between a handful of cardboard-personality characters (they’re pretty much average Janes and Joes here, sorry no Master Chief or Samus) and watch as budding relationships grow through the turmoil ridden situation. Some of these “relationships” consists of the full-on cheesy one-liners delivered in obnoxious ways or the "I'm sorry this whole thing is my fault" cut-scenes, which carry enough contrivance to be tolerable. But the game recovers itself a bit with the use of player options that sometimes change the outcome of some situations. Still, the ability to help, hinder or hurt some characters at least gives the game some credibility for player-insinuated progress (a lot of BioWare fans are going to hate me for saying it, but yeah, it’s like KotOR in that you can choose things even though the outcome is mostly the same).

Now for those of you who are under the impression that this an outright action game with choices, you’re wrong. It plays out similar to other action-adventure titles (i.e., Resident Evil, Syberia, etc.,) given that players will still have to solve a good deal of puzzles – sometimes even platform oriented – before moving on to the next scenario or completing a chapter. The actual disaster encounters happen here and there (and mostly with select characters) but mostly it’s about taking on one task after another in the traditional survival-genre method. A better example would probably be Silent Hill without the creatures or demonic story elements. And...you would have to replace the entire town with flooding and crashing, and tipped over vehicles, etc. But you get my drift.

Speaking of the town...while Irem’s intention was to make the game seem “disaster ridden”, it all came off a bit underwhelming, as I mentioned earlier, because of the graphics. Now I’ll be one of the first to say that graphics don’t mean much, but in a game that’s trying to convey a deliberate sense of fear, desperation and situational tension, it’s imperative that things look overwhelming. While the character models are meagerly acceptable to today’s PS2 standards, and the weather effects are give and take at times, the city really suffers from a visual disease called gray. That’s right, everything looks too drab and dull, despite being somewhat detailed. I know the grayish look gives the entire atmosphere a much more desolated feel, but it also gives a much more lifeless feel and that rings true even for the disaster effects. Not only that, many of the buildings and objects suffer from extremely simplified geometry (almost worthy of the PSOne) and the textures come off with underachieving qualities and the not-so-appeasable smeared look.



On the plus side, though, there’s a lot of different scenarios and tasks to complete. The nice little selection of what might be considered mini-games (i.e., driving a taxi; trying to keep warm; finding shelter or traversing through hazardous areas, etc.,) will keep just about anyone engaged in the game, and that speaks volumes for a budget-priced title. But that's not to mention that any adventure fan who has longed for a survival adventure game – without zombies, aliens or not-so-scary looking demons – will at least find Raw Danger to be very innovative for the genre, and fairly entertaining as well. Alternatively, if you're a casual gamer who is tired of puzzle-only adventure games, this wouldn't be a bad crossover game for fans who might like titles such as Nancy Drew or Runaway 2: Dream of the Turtle, but are looking for a little more meat on their gaming bones.

Overall though, if you're a fan of this genre and don’t mind low presentation values (although they at least have some mouth movements for the character models) and some minor, but forgivable control/camera issues that come along with action-adventure-puzzle titles like this, then Raw Danger wouldn’t be bad addition to your PS2 collection. And while I would suggest to rent it before you buy it, you would probably save more money just picking the game up with its super-budget price tag.

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