sábado, 15 de novembro de 2014

The Great Escape [1986, ZX Spectrum] Review - It's a Pixel THING

One freaking cool scene that remains in my conscience is the one of Steve McQueen riding his motorcycle and jumping over a fence. That was something that every small boy would dream on doing!.. And later, receive visits on an hospital bedroom..

The Great Escape was developed by Denton Designs and published by Ocean Software in 1986 for DOS, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and the ZED X Spectrum.

This arcade adventure game, with a slight stealth flavor, takes place in 1942 and puts us in control of a POW somewhere in northern Germany.
In this quite unique single stage game, you need to follow a certain strict routine, along with all the other prisoners. You could just watch your character go off to his daily business. Let go of the controls, sit back and enjoy.
But, this is a computer game and it asks for human interaction! So, let’s jump right in!

About the daily routine, we must attend the morning roll call in front of the German officers, report to the canteen for breakfast, lunch, do some exercise on the yard, dinner and, at the end of the day, attend the evening roll call and return to the hut for another night under the sheets.

It’s here where you need to start to explore your surroundings if you really want to escape from that dreadful routine. Look carefully around you and you’ll find a stove in the corner, which, when pushed aside reveals a secret tunnel. But it’s too dark to explore though. You’re gonna need a source of light. And this is just the beginning of our quest.

The flying flag from the pole to the left of the main play area serves a number of functions. The higher the flag flies, the higher the morale of the central character. Getting red cross parcels or picking up or using an item of escape equipment, the morale improves. Morale is lowered with searches and arrests and gradually diminishes as time elapses. When the flag reaches the bottom, you’re forced to start a new game.

While the flag is green you have limited control and you can only be searched by the Camp Commander. When you break the routine, the flag turns red and you’re able to pick up and drop objects.

Once you’ve learned all the moves and routines of the camp, it’s time to get your hands dirty. The Great Escape is all about finding objects: keys, torches, tools, etc. Remember to have safe hiding places to drop all the objects you need for the escape. If the guards find any object, they will confiscate and return them to their original location.

Avoiding the guards is rather simple. Just keep out of their line of sight and they won’t notice you.

During the night, powerful searchlights scout the camp and prisoners outside the huts get arrested on sight. Hummm…. Maybe wearing a German uniform might help in this situation, don’t you think?

Points are awarded for escape attempts and for collecting and using objects. There are various routes to choose, each needing its own type of equipment, and once you’ve got everything, you just wait for night to fall and away you go! Once outside, you’ll need a compass and some papers or you won’t get very far..

The whole game generates a very real atmosphere of actually being there, and, sometimes, you do get very nervous if you’re stuck somewhere when the roll-call bell sounds!

In 2003 a new game based on The Great Escape movie from 1963 was released for Windows, Playstation 2 and the original Xbox. Sadly it felt somewhat unfinished and received poor reviews from critics all around the world.

This version of The Great Escape was considered one of the best games ever made for the ZED X Spectrum. The DOS version was also extremely playable, but the simple sound effects, from the PC speaker, and the lack of color made it boring after a bit.

The Great Escape is a brilliant game in both concept and design, and the non-linear gameplay and its isometric perspective was, in 1986, something totally new. 

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