Review: Prison Break: The Conspiracy
Prison Break: The Conspiracy is based on the popular TV show, aiming to be part of the story and add some additional value to it. Did it manage to do that?
- Worth The Time?No, not even half a second of it.
- Things LovedNothing.
- Things HatedEssentially everything.
- RecommendationEven the number one Prison Break fan on the planet will not get anything out of this. Don't buy it, play it or even look at it.
- Name: Prison Break: The Conspiracy
- Genre: Stealth, Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Offline versus mode (2 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Zootfly
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Price: R270-299 (PC), R451-499 (PS3, Xbox360)
- Reviewed On: PC
There’s something mysteriously inviting in licensed games. A dark force which turns us gamers into suckers for punishment. Most of us know that these games will hardly ever turn out good, yet we all run after them because of their tie-ins to our much-loved movies and TV series’, hoping that these games would do them at least a little bit of justice. So, here we have Prison Break: The Conspiracy, which is yet another licensed game to join the library of absolutely abysmal titles. Usually we find a way to forgive licensed games in small ways, because of their fan service nature and how some of them provide extra or back story information on plots. However, what I can say for this game is keep your eye on the title, and look at that one special word (break), because that’s going to stick in your head the entire time you play this game – making you stare daggers at the disc.
In Prison Break: The Conspiracy you don’t take on the role of Micheal Scofield, as anyone would think by hearing the name of the game or by looking at the game’s box art. Instead, you play as company agent Tom Paxton, who is sent undercover into Fox River State Penitentiary to spy on Micheal Scofield, and figure out why he ended up in the same prison as his brother, Lincoln Burrows. Credit can be given to the game for choosing the first season of Prison Break for the storyline, as it’s undoubtedly the best season of the show. You’ll witness key moments in the show as you play the game and meet up with the main stars, such as Micheal, Lincoln, Sucre, T-Bag and John Abruzzi. However, that credit can easily be taken away, because this game does Prison Break absolutely no justice – in fact it makes it look like a joke.
What’s good is that most of the characters have their original voice actors. The bad is that a number of characters weren’t able to make it in and some were changed entirely, because the original actors weren’t around to get involved. However, what’s worse is that, despite the original voice actors being present, the dialogue and voice acting is so badly done that you’ll visibly cringe whenever a character speaks. It’s cool that the developers attempted to capture the theme of Prison Break, by using music from the series and by including some of its unique traits, which makes it a little nostalgic for fans, but inevitably, this game comes nowhere close to the excellent show. It definitely succeeds in putting a damper on its name though.
The biggest problem with the story is that, to anyone who has watched the first season of the show, you will always be way ahead of the game’s plot and will know exactly what will happen way before it does. The outcome of the game changes nothing in the story and adds no value to it. To those who haven’t watched the show, this game will just end up ruining it and making what is one of the best first seasons of a television show into a joke.
Prison Break: The Conspiracy is a third person action stealth game, although it’s quite difficult to classify this as a game. What with its incredibly dated gameplay mechanics and overall poor gameplay. Yes, it seems Prison Break: The Conspiracy is another believer in the literal meaning of “less is more”, and this is evident in all areas of the game. Essentially, since you’re in prison, the entire game is made up of fetch quests, sneaking around, climbing things and the odd fight or two. Actually, the entire game, that being all eight hours of it, is basically one long fetch quest mixed with slow stealth sections. In order to progress through the story you have to do everyone’s dirty work for them and be the ultimate errand boy, because that’s seemingly the best way to get rep in prison.
The stealth, which is the core of the gameplay, is broken and, well, lacking. Fundamentally, the game incorporates what I call the “death by discover” stealth mechanic, where if you’re seen it’s automatically game over. However, this game takes that to the extreme. If you’re spotted anywhere by someone who isn’t an inmate, in a place you’re not supposed to be, it’s an instant game over. It doesn’t matter who spots you, which is senseless. There is no option to run or take the person down or, if you fail in that, find a way to take the heat off of you. So it can happen that you being spotted by a janitor results in failure, requiring you to load the checkpoint and try again. What, a janitor is a threat to a trained agent? This is actually the developers just opting for the easy way out, because it would seem that adding more variety and sense to this game would be too much of a chore.
What’s worse is that you’re not even given any options in the stealth sections. The game, throughout your entire play-through, uses the most basic idea of stealth gameplay, that being simply waiting for a patrolling guard or NPC to look the other way before you sneak past. Due to this making up almost all of the gameplay, it really seems like the game is testing your patience and endurance more than anything else. Sure, there are the times in the game where you’re required to hastily pick a lock before a guard gets to you or remove the screws from a power box in order to shut the lights off – but are these really worth mentioning?
The entirety of the stealth gameplay is made up of waiting for an NPC to look away before sneaking past, hiding in certain spots like cupboards and underneath cars, dodging cameras and avoiding search lights. If this manages to sound a tiny bit exciting to you, let it be known that you don’t really get to explore much of the actual prison, as you visit the same areas often, and the stealth gameplay as a whole is just boring. Mainly because there is next to no variety in it and all of these dated concepts have been done before, much better, in most other stealth games. Due to the frustration and level of boredom involved in simply waiting ever so patiently for the way ahead to be cleared, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up opting for the “trial and error” method, where you’ll simply just run out there, fail, reload and repeat the process until you get through. Although, you might not last long here before you start reaching dangerous anger levels.
If you were hoping for any redeeming factors in the combat, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Basically, the only times you’ll ever get to fight in this game is if you randomly decide to attack an inmate in the yard or during the set points in the game where a fight is unavoidable. Maybe the lack of fights is a good thing, because the combat system in this game is actually pretty pathetic. The only “abilities” that you have, so to speak, are light punch, heavy punch, block and dodge. There is no flow whatsoever in the combat, and basically it amounts to random button bashing of the light punch button in a desperate attempt to get the fight over with. A couple of punches followed by a “take down”, of which there are about four animations in total, and the fight is over. However, the biggest joke of them all is that there is a two-player versus mode in the game. Perhaps this is so that you can punish your friends by putting them through the mental trauma of playing this game – and get some sort of sadistic pleasure out of it in the process? I won’t deny that it’s initially hilarious to see Micheal Scofield battle T-Bag though.
As the game progresses, you’re able to level up Tom Paxton’s speed and combat damage by practicing with a punching bag or lifting weights. What’s sad about this is that the only reason you’d want to do this is to get fights over with even faster, because there are no extra moves or techniques to unlock by increasing your combat effectiveness. You’d think that being in a prison would give you access to certain weapons, like knuckle-busters or “shanks”, which is slang for shiv (a makeshift knife), but not once in the entire game do you get access to anything remotely related to a weapon – that’s excluding your fists. No gun, knife, piece of metal, not even a stick – which is even more depressing.
The only thing left to mention regarding the gameplay are the painful quick-time events. Prison Break: The Conspiracy has taken about a hundred steps back, going back to the dark era of gaming where quick-time events reigned as the supreme destroyer of fun in gaming. Yes, you’re going to get a horrifying reminder of how bad quick-time events can be if implemented in the wrong way. In this game, they come out of nowhere, making it damn hard to prepare for them or nail them on the first try. The second major issue is that the button inputs change randomly and without warning. One second you could be pressing a button rapidly, and the next you will be told to press another, despite the fact that you’re still hammering the first button. This results, most of the time, in failure. It’s easy to say that this game implements quick-time events in one of the worst ways possible.
There’s nothing impressive in the game’s visuals either. The lack of detail, bland visuals and weak character models are the areas to point out. There are some lip-syncing issues when characters are speaking, various bugs, such as you getting stuck in a wall, robotic animation and expressionless faces, which overall just results in weak graphics. However, credit can be given, because the game does manage to somewhat capture the theme of Prison Break, with the music and design of the Fox River prison, but that unfortunately doesn’t last. For a title released in 2010, this game doesn’t really have any ground to stand on and can’t compare to most other games out there. I mentioned earlier in the review that there’s about eight hours to be spent playing this game – of course taking into account that you’ll still play after the first couple of minutes. There are nine chapters in the game and it really is a boring and laborious chore to get through them.
Prison Break: The Conspiracy is a game to avoid even if it’s the last one on Earth. What this game tried to do is attempt to throw in a whole new perspective to an already complete story. The result is that this game’s contribution fails to make any meaningful impact to the Prison Break story whatsoever, even to the most devoted Prison Break fan. This is a game that could have been made many years ago and it would have had no effect on the final product. The only two reasons to give this game a positive point is due to the fact that it features original elements and music from the great TV series and probably because the versus mode will provide you with a good laugh before it speedily turns sad. Prison Break fans and gamers alike – it would be better, and more beneficial, to smash your head against a brick wall for eight hours than put yourself through this.