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Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines PlayStation 2

Published by Oxygen Interactive
Developed by The Wide Games Team
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines, an introduction.

It's incredible to think that 60 years after the end of World War II it still remains a hot topic. Of course the scars left by the horrors of World War II will be with us forever and have forever changed the history of the human race. What I'm talking about here though is the appeal of World War II as a subject for books, films and computer games. Already this week we've reviewed Blitzkrieg 2 and Squad Assault and here we have our third World War II based game in the shape of Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines.

What's the game about?

In Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines you'll play as the American Bill Foster who was shot down over Germany during World War II. Basically the idea is to escape from Germany by heading towards the ever neutral Switzerland. To do this of course Bill will have to negotiate all kinds of sticky situations and use stealth to avoid confrontations, which is easier said than done. This isn't a clone of Metal Gear Solid though, although you'll notice some similarities, and there are a few new concepts to deal with.

What's good about the game?

Wide Games created a unique World War II title in Prisoner of War and once again Pilot Down is a fresh take on creating a World War II game. The key to succeeding in both games however is stealth. This isn't a game where the 'all guns blazing approach' works. In fact you'll be killed in no time if that's the method you decide to employ. Like in the Metal Gear Solid games you can make noises to distract enemies and you can also sneak up on them and perform a stealth attack which helps to prevent sounding the alarm bells and alerting other nearby guards. The game has some RPG elements thrown in and you'll gain experience points that can be used to improve your character. There are 3 secret items in each level and these will each give you an additional experience point which is a nice touch. You'll not only have to maintain your health but also your endurance. You're given a gauge for each and whilst the usual things deplete your health (like bullets from the enemies' guns), cold and hunger will affect your endurance. To this end you'll have to warm and feed Bill at every opportunity because if his endurance depletes completely his health will start to suffer. It's also worth mentioning that Bill can't hurt civilians. This can be annoying especially as they can alert guards to your presence but it's simply one extra challenge to deal with.

What's not so good about the game?

Pilot Down has a few rough edges that should have been ironed out. The game's camera is probably going to be the most disliked aspect of the game. The camera hardly seems to change angle and relies on constant manipulation from you with the right analogue stick. Even with this self adjustment of the camera angle, there are still times when the camera will get stuck behind objects making it difficult to see what you're doing. Another issue I have with the game is that the save points (or at the very least the temporary checkpoints) ought to be closer together. Enemy AI is quite poor and certain situations are far easier than they should be, as you're dealing with enemies who behave far from intelligently.

How does it look?

Graphically Pilot Down looks OK if a little bland and simplistic in places. I don't honestly think the game was intended to look realistic which is no bad thing. Some locations are sparse on detail though and the textures in the game probably should have been better. Character animations could have been better too. The game doesn't have traditional cutscenes. Instead you have comic book style storyboards that relay the story. This actually works very nicely and it's refreshing to see a developer attempt something different.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Pilot Down is actually quite good for deaf gamers. By default the subtitles are disabled so you'll have to enable them in the options menu before you begin a game. The game's comic book style cutscenes are text only so you'll have no problems here. You'll also be able to read the text at your leisure as you'll need to press the X button in order to progress. The tutorial messages are shown in text which of course is helpful. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled from the pause menu (by pressing the start button). Items that can be picked up (such as secret items, food and weapons etc.) are well highlighted and you'll also see icons over the heads of enemies that show you if they can hear or see you, which is pretty impressive.

Final thoughts.

Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines should have been a memorable game but it doesn't quite work out that way. There are certain aspects of the game I like, such as the comic book storyboard cutscenes, having to maintain your endurance and generally trying to avoid conflict. However the poor enemy AI, the awkward camera and the lack of temporary checkpoints that you can go back to if you're killed really drag the whole thing down. Bland graphics and less that desirable character animations also serve to dampen the whole affair. It's not a poor game by any means but with a bit more care and attention it could have been so much better.


Overall Game Rating: 6.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines had the potential to be a great game but unfortunately it hasn't turned out that way. If you can put up with the problems we've mentioned it may be worth giving a go.