Bruce Von Stiers
Some people hear about prisoners of war during the Second World War and think of Hogan’s Heroes. Others remember the movie, The Great Escape with Steve McQueen. And some other people might be thinking of a new PC game that was just released by Codemasters. The title of this game is Prisoner of War and chronicles the life and times of Captain Lewis Stone of the U.S. Army Air Force and his attempts to escape the confines of a German prison camp.
Escape is the name of the game here. You will be playing as Stone. The ultimate result of the game is for Stone to escape the German prison camp and make his way back to liberated territory. That way he can get right back into the war effort. Stone is an Army aviator whose assignment was to do aerial recon on German territory. He gets shot down and is thrown into a prisoner of war camp. He immediately begins to make plans to escape. That is where you, the player, take over.
This is more a game of patience and observation than action and violence. Stone will try to use his wits to escape as opposed to a machine gun and hand to hand combat. The idea is to keep a low profile and gather items that will aid in his escape.
The playing screen has several items that need to be paid close attention to. There is a clock and the mini radar or compass. Depending on what is occurring in the game at a particular time, there might be an icon on the screen representing an action that could be activated. The clock shows the current time of day in the game. The compass and mini radar help define where the guards are during gameplay. This tool is something that a real prisoner of war wouldn’t have had access to, but it is an asset to winning the game.
Clicking on an action icon will allow Stone to talk to people, open doors, pick up objects and tap on walls. He will also be able to rummage around in different places to find items. He will be able to disguise himself and use an object that was picked up by clicking on an action icon.
The controls for the game can be both the mouse and keyboard or just the keyboard. The mouse is mostly used for the actions and the keyboard for movement. You can configure the controls to suit your purposes. You will have to continually reset your camera angle as the game doesn’t track your movements very well.
You will interact with fellow prisoners and guards. The interaction is basically listening to what they have to say via dialog boxes. The path that you take during the game will be impacted by the information you receive from these sources. Ask the right question and you might be able to find out where things are or what time something occurs during the course of the day.
The voice acting isn’t too bad except that the German accented English needed a little work. The soundtrack is fairly good, with just about the right amount of suspense for the type of game this is. The graphics could have been a little better, but overall weren’t too bad. I was impressed by the smooth transitions from day to night and the weather conditions. The characters aren’t as sharp as in other games, but the movements are fairly fluid.
For a not too violent game that deals with World War II and escaping a prison camp, Prisoner of War is pretty good. You don’t have the violence and gore of Wolfenstein and have the opportunity for hours of gameplay. The AI isn’t too bad and the graphics, although could have been a little more polished, were adequate.
Prisoner of War can be found at retailers like Electronic Boutique and Best
For additional information about the game, visit the Codemasters website at www.codemastersusa.com.