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Updated November 20, 2004

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The Great Escape
(Shattered Realm Productions)

"Guide Your Way To Freedom!"

As your eyes open, the memories start rushing back in. The kidnapping-- the mad scientists-- it's all too clear. You're trapped in the evil scientist's maze, and the only way out is to play their deadly game...

Incapacitated in a twenty-level cell, your only hope is to use the bombs and tracks the scientists gave you to find your way to the maze's exit. Will you pull "The Great Escape" or will you be trapped as a failed human experiment forever?

Game Review
Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Perhaps choosing to accentuate gameplay over graphics, Shattered Realm Productions made a sacrifice in The Great Escape by shrinking all the graphic tiles. The smaller tile size allows the levels in The Great Escape to be much larger, allowing for a higher level of challenge without having to force scrolling or some other method that can stop the player from viewing the entire playing field and possibly weakening the game's comfortability.

Unfortunately, this comfort comes at a cost; limited and bland tilesets make for levels that look very similar to each other, with an overall lack of vibrance that isn't necessarily unappealing to the eye, but it isn't very stimulating either.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Good. It's not easy to give a game with a non-original score a good rating for sound and music, but Shattered Realm Production's choice of spy tunes really fit the mood that they wanted to put into the game. The Great Escape just isn't the same without some James Bond playing in the background to help pull gamers into the crazy, torturous world that Spy for Hire entails.
Gameplay (n.)
The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
In terms of setup, The Great Escape is fairly original-- the goal of each level is to lead a bomb to the exit before the timer runs out. However, you can't problem the directly except for an initial push. For the bomb to change direction, you have to lay a preset number of tracks onto the level using the mouse, along the bomb to turn clockwise and counterclockwise. This comes in handy when trying to dodge walls or laser barriers.

To make matters worse, the exit for each level doesn't activate until all the generators in the playing area are activated. In addition to these generators, additional switches in the level may need to be turned on to deactivate traps in the level that guard vital generators or exitways. The formula becomes clear-- observe the level, locate the generators, lay the tracks, push the bomb, and reach the exit.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
Average. It's a very tough assignment to try to explain The Great Escape's wacky gameplay, but Shattered Realm Productions were successful in at least providing some logical explanation for their puzzle game's bomb-tossing premise. The story also shows up in The Great Escape's in-game instruction manual for those who want to know where "The Great Escape" began.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
Once all twenty levels in The Great Escape are completed, it's possible to download more levels from the website. But each area requires so much analysis that one runaround through each level is usually enough to get your fill.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
The hardest part about playing The Great Escape is knowing how to use the tracks you're given. Shattered Realm Productions did an excellent part in terms of level design, providing a steady increase of challenge throughout the game. Both coding groups set up situations that seem to present multiple answers when in fact the tracks given only lead to one solution.

What didn't quite happen in The Great Escape is a fair timer for each level. Every level always seemed to be several seconds short when it came to giving gamers enough time to analyze the level and tracks available. Experimentation is usually the most entertaining part of puzzle games of this nature; it would have been nice to have a little more freedom while trying to figure out which track to lay next.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
The Great Escape plays a lot like the QB puzzle game Phat Professional Burglar, and my complaints for both games are similar. First, limited lives and the timer are unnecessary; in a game where experimentation is the game's main source of fun factor, putting all that fun on a time limit is detrimental. Second, the graphic tiles are just too small to be detailed at a 320*200 resolution. 

Other than that, The Great Escape is a little tough to get into, but it's really a lot of fun once you get used to directing bombs by laying tracks in a labratory. It sounds very strange but it's a lot more addictive than you'd expect.

The Great Escape Reviewed by Vance Velez

Players 1 player Genre: Puzzle Game
Rating To solve: 3-4 hours Final Rating: 14/35

To download The Great Escape (476KB), click here.
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wThis game is mouse-compatible. Make sure it is hooked up when playing this game.
wTo play The Great Escape, unzip the file and run "ESCAPE.BAT".

Back to Puzzle Games Page

Game Summary
Coding Group
Shattered Realm Productions
Puzzle Game
Homepage URL
1 player
Final Rating
14 out of 35 points

The Highs: Instant level save and mouse-driven gaming make the transition to The Great Escape's original gameplay easy.
The Lows: Small graphic tiles and predominantly gray and blue graphics make this otherwise entertaining puzzle game look bland.

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