As a massive fan of the now cancelled Prison Break TV series, when I learned the release of a related video game was imminent from a developer Zootfly, I was quick to find out more. With promises of story lines parallel to the impressive first season of the show, I had no hesitation in buying the Prison Break: The Conspiracy for PS3. So how did I find it?
Story & Gameplay
As I said, the entirety of the game is set in a parallel to the first season of the TV show, except with a quite large tweak. Instead of playing the predictable role of lead character Michael Scofield, you are assigned the character of Tom Paxton, an undercover ‘Company’ agent sent to infiltrate the prison and uncover Scofield’s plans to get his brother Lincoln Burrows, who was framed for the murder of The Vice-Presidents brother and subsequently sentenced to death, out of the prison.
The game is split into 9 chapters, all of which represent a part of the real story that the TV series followed. In each chapter you must use the automated stealth mode to dart in and out of doors, over fences and scale walls of the prison. This is where the game gets a bit repetitive. Because apart from this, there really isn’t a lot more to it in terms of gameplay. All over the prison there are pipes and fences that have conveniently been coloured yellow to indicate that you can interact with them. You can sneak up behind walls in a similar fashion to games such as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid. From there you can turn corners or jump across the gaps to the next bit of cover.
Each chapter incorporates this sort of gameplay as you have to sneak through the same building as Scofield to uncover his plot of a breakout. However, about halfway through, you are predictably stabbed in the back by your boss as you find a dead body of a character sent inside in order to not only kill Lincoln Burrows, but you Tom Paxton as well. It all gets a bit repetitive and predictable as you join the escape plan and attempt to clear your name and avoid ‘The Company’.
Throughout the game you can interact with various characters from the serious such as John Abruzzi, Theodore Bagwell (T-Bag), Brad Bellick, Benjamin Franklin (C-Note) and Fernando Sucre as well as the obvious Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield. All of these are represented by their real actors and faces, however there are some characters, most notably Sara Tancredi and Charles Westmorland who are without their authentic appearance and voice over.
In addition to the continuous story mode, there is also an interesting and overall entertaining feature built in to the game. This is the fight mode. You can earn cash whilst inside in order to buy tattoo’s by competing in an underground ‘fight club’ run by the corrupt guards. You can choose to fight a large variety different inmates with differing levels of difficulty. Although quite fun for short periods, unfortunately you are quite limited into how you fight. Basically you can do a quick punch, or a hard punch. Whilst your opponent is down you can kick them and you can eventually do a ‘finisher’ but that’s your lot. So it is quite restricted. However, in order to improve your characters ability there are user controlled training activities, weights and a heavy bag which add an extra dimension to this section of the game.
So although the game delivers its promises of authentic story lines and interesting tweaks to the plot, the gameplay is a real let down and offers very little variety in the user experience. Disappointingly, a real lack of violence when compared to the TV show just adds to how let down I feel about this game.
This is where the positives really begin though, the overall look of the game is nothing short of outstanding. I was immediately impressed by the level of detail put into the environment of Fox River Penitentiary where the first series of Prison Break is set, as well as the superb almost lifelike models of the characters themselves. Facial expressions are good and the body language is authentic.
The texture detail in the game and the environment is fantastic with the grass and changing terrain looking almost life like at times and the characters, even those which aren’t portrayed by the genuine actors, slide perfectly into the game and the prison setting. All areas of the prison are based on the real prison if not represented in the show itself, they follow a continuous theme and layout.
As I mentioned earlier, the fight scenes are an added part of the game and although they are restricted, they are extremely realistic. The visuals of the fight scenes are actually quite remarkable and some of the best I have seen when compared to games of the past. punches and kicks are aggressive whilst realistic. Although these will never compare to the dedicated fighting games, they do create a part of the game which is fun and adds what little variety there is to the game in good quality.
As you can probably tell, Prison Break: The Conspiracy lacks variety and hence, I am overall extremely disappointed with the game. Having also played Heavy Rain over the past few days there is no comparison between the entertainment value of each. Although graphically quite intense, the story line is a real downer on what could potentially have been a fantastic game. There are much better alternatives on the market that offer a similar, but better gameplay experience, however there are some redeeming features that means fans of the series will still want to check this out, therefore I would give it a respectable 3 out of 5.