Yesterday I got my hands on three new titles for the PlayStation 2. King of Fighters Maximum Impact, Gregory Horror Show and last but not least, SOS: Final Escape.
I've had my eye on the lastly named title for quite some time now, and before I start praising the game, let's clear up some of the confusion concerning the title. Games often get different titles in different regions. Why? I have no idea. But it's pretty common, and this game is no exception. The original japanese title is 『絶対絶命都市』, which reads "Zettai Zetsumei Toshi" and translates roughly into "Completly Destroyed City". The title was obviously not catchy enough for the american market, so they've decided to rename the game, thus the US / Canadian release is called "Disaster Report".
The name changing circus usually ends here, and while the game is called one thing in Japan, the US and european releases share the same title, even though it's different from the original [ie. Biohazard in Japan / Resident Evil US and Europe]. This time however, someone thought it would be nice to throw one more title into the mix and the european release got labeled: SOS: The Final Escape. Confused? You wouldn't be the only one. Strangely enough, the Korean release kept the original japanese title, kanji included.
So this is what we know. Zettai Zetsumei Toshi in Japan, Disaster Report in US and Canada, and SOS: The Final Escape in Europe. Now what would the puglishers have to do to make it even more confusing for us, consumers? Why not make a completly new boxart for the european edition? Oh wait, that's not confusing enough. Let's make two then. One completly new, and one just like the US version. That will work!
Enough about the titles. What about the game? You might be surprised when I say this but SOS: The Final Escape truly is one of the most underrated, if not the most underrated game for the PlayStation 2.
There are plenty of titles out there that deserve gamers' attention and this must be the number one with a bullet. Many people haven't heard about it, haven't read about it and have no idea it even exists and that's just plain wrong, because this game deserves better.
So what's it all about? You are a reporter on an assignment. You're on your way to town when suddenly something goes terribly wrong. The train you were on derails, the brindge that train was crossing starts falling apart.
Without any delays or lenghty intros you get to play and have to get your ass out of the danger zone [which is basically everywhere]. It appears that an earthquake and its aftershocks are tearing apart the island you were headed for, and at the moment this very island is the only place you can go.
The game doesn't feature any pre-rendered FMVs, so all you get to see is drawn by the ingame engine. The game looks great. I would even go as far as calling the graphics stunning, but only at times. The first level might seem a bit grey, but play a bit longer and you'll see more color, I promise.
The locations are massive and well designed. You won't complain about low polygon count and you'll get to see some extremly large objects falling apart in pretty cool ways you've never seen before in a game.
The character design is your standard japanese "job well done". Nothing too outrageous or oridinary. If you thought Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue was nothing to complain about, you won't complain here either. Plus if you're bored of your look, you can always upgrade it by picking up some new clothes, backpacks, shades and crowbars. Yes, you pick those up too.
A nice feature is that when you switch to a first person view when you have a pair of sunglasses on, the picture will actually be darker. I haven't played long enough to know if it actually has a practical use, but it's there and now you know it.
One thing that threw me off a bit was that the characters in european version are a bit changed. Someone figured that brown doesn't sell too good in europe, thus the characters' hair are dyed blonde [judging from the cover, the change was applied in the US version aswell]. Beats me why they did it. English localization team must have been german.
Like any game, this one too must have its flaws. There's really not that much to complain about aside from few things that could have been more polished. One of such things is swimming, or rather the sound effects that come with it. No matter how fast or slow you swim, you hear constant splashing played by one sound sample. If you get into the water where the current is string enough to carry you, you'll hear the same splashing as if you were swimming. I don't know how big of a role does swimming have in the game but it seems more like an additional feature rather than something you have to do to complete the game. Thank God for that.
All in all the game is quite a catch for people who like a cool game and gave up the hope in waiting for titles such as Shenmue III. If you don't own it, pick it up today. You certainly won't regret it. Just check out the video below and see how much fun you'll have, or how much fun you'll miss out on.
- 「『ラストブロンクス -東京番外地-』」
- 「Wonder Wonder WonderSwan」