Boiling Point: Road to Hell

a game by Deep Shadows
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 1 review, 5 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.7/10 - 6 votes
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See also: First Person Shooter

So, Boiling Point then. Unfinished, dated, buggy, oddly translated, extraordinarily demanding on the system, brimming with sound problems, riddled with diabolical Al and with voice-acting so bad that one character can occasionally have three voices. But also quite fun. Probably the best shit game on the market. How so?

Very few developers have capitalised on the go-anywhere, do-anything' mentality of the GTA series, even fewer have managed to replicate the characters, threaded storylines and player-defined pathways of Deus Ex. This is because they're extraordinarily hard feats to pull off, and it's far easier for a developer to eat pizza, present the gamer with a big corridor and a bigger gun and leave them to it. Deep Shadows, however is clearly up for a challenge and has created a game that tries to mix the two. The company's clearly bitten off more than it can chew - but even though a lot of goodness has fallen away from the final product, even the most stubborn gamer would have to admit that there are some niceties that have been left to chew over.

Boiling Point features a Billy Zane looky-likey called The Mummy {Arnold Vosloo -Ed), searching for his errant journalist daughter in a country in South America. I'm not overly sure which country (and neither is the game), but it isn't a very pleasant place and stars a burgeoning cast of mafia, bandits, government soldiers, guerillas, CIA agents, civilians and some brain-deadeningly stereotypical Native Indians. Every faction likes to kill each other, and all of them want things or people stolen, killed or rescued in exchange for cash. You know the score.

Follow The Path...

Depending on what factions you side with, or how rude you are to the people you meet, different pathways open up. They're all similar pathways in truth, since everyone wants their pockets lined in exchange for your violent services, but genuine effort has clearly gone into providing different playing experiences for different people. It may not be as complex as Morrowind (you either play as a nasty bastard, or a really nasty bastard), but you're continually aware that there are multiple ways of making your way through the game.

This is backed up by a slightly Deus Ex-come-Project IGI feel to the missions themselves, in which you can generally approach an enemy base from a multitude of angles, with open windows, casually placed guards and some secret documents somewhere between them all.

Fault Lines

The main issue with Boiling Point is that reading the list of things you can do in the game is far more exciting than actually doing them in-game. Having tyres blown out and replacing them, flying planes, traversing the massive play-area in stolen vehicles, getting drunk in bars and staggering out, flying helicopters, upgrading weapons, crossing and double-crossing NPC characters... It's the template for the best game of all time. But it never ever becomes anything more than a template.

Despite being pretty plain in the looks department, the game ate my machine alive - if you've got anything less than 1024MB RAM, you'll undoubtedly discover some moments of extreme jerkery coupled with some major loading times. For a plain Jane like Boiling Point, you can't help but think of this as a major programming flaw. What's more, the Al in your enemies revolves around little more than standing and shooting (sometimes in a building, sometimes in a field, sometimes even in a bush). Plus, when they do move it's either a brainless jog in a random direction or in the form of a mystifying any-direction roly-poly. It's dire.

Vehicle handling is another spleen-venter, the bile heightened by the fact that at first you aren't aware that there's a points-based RPG skill menu lurking in the back of the game. When The Mummy turns up, he clearly has never so much as played with a Tonka truck. Even when you're well into the game though, you'll be spinning off roads for no apparent reason until crashing into trees simply becomes one of those things that jungle-bound mercenaries have to deal with. Plane and chopper larks also start off exciting, but have controls so lifeless and unconvincing that monotony soon forces itself back into the reckoning.

Freezing Point

The game is just riddled with gameplay holes. When a chair falls behind a door that's my only exit, why will it not open and why do I have to reload my game? When instructed to hunt down a jaguar that's preying on the Indian Big-Um-Chief's cattle.

why does it speed towards me at 100 metres a second and attack me a couple of feet away from his tent? Add to the mix a bug that had my cars disappearing left, right and centre, reams of missing dialogue and some random government helicopters that provide insta-death, and you've got a package that may not be unplayable, but is certainly ill-planned and unfinished.

Hope Springs Eternal

Don't get me wrong though, there are some neat little moments in here and, through often gritted teeth, it can become an entirely immersive experience. Stuff like persuading a man perched on a bridge not to top himself was a nice touch, as was the first (and only) time the government ambush you by toppling trees onto the road and leaping out of the wilderness.

What it comes down to is whether or not the bugs and the constant fear that the your game path's trajectory will irrevocably break down halfway through the game outweighs the genuinely atmospheric and addictive feeling of progressing through The Mummy's world. My own take on it is that you end up playing a game less on the computer in front of you and more in the wistful departments of your own brain. Yes, I enjoyed Boiling Point, but at the same time I know that I'm in love with a concept that we don't see enough of rather than the game itself - a game whose roots are stunted and tangled due to the Marlovian over-reaching of its developers and the conveyorbelt mentality of their whipcracking publishers.

Done properly, with the Far Cry engine and double the amount of developers, this could have been amazing. Right now it is compelling, but riddled with so many problems that if you part ways with your cash for it, you're entering into a pact that will give you as much frustration as entertainment. With San Andreas, Oblivion and STALKER peeking over the horizon, I can assure you that freeform actionadventure can and will come in better fonps than this.

Download Boiling Point: Road to Hell

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

No, wait, don't turn the page yet - it's not another Far Cry clone. Really! OK. so admittedly the story in Boiling Point (formerly Xenus) yields little in the way of originality - you play Saul Meyer, formerly of the foreign legion (naturally), who's investigating the disappearance of his journalist daughter in South America. Surprisingly though, the "investigation" doesn't take the typical FPS form of a linear set of gunfights based around suspiciously corridor-like forests, but actually leaves it to you to decide how to proceed. "Our main purpose is to put all the choices of how to play in the player's hands," explains producer Thomas Schaefer. "We want the player to have complete freedom, but every decision you make will have consequences."

Developer Deep Shadows hopes to achieve this with a dynamic similar to GTA - you can basically pick and choose which missions to follow and when to carry them out. As well as missions that will progress the main story, there are objectives that will earn you cash to buy weapons or equipment. You can earn a crust by doing anything from being a bus driver, hunter or hitman.

Whether or not you follow the main story (or one of the many promised subplots). you're going to need cash to gain a licence for one of the game's 25 vehicles, as the map is huge. Alternatively, you can (with the aid of a sizeable weapon) relieve one of the locals of their transportation by force. The consequences referred to by Schaefer are that your actions can affect your standing with one of six dangerous factions populating the area. With many of the missions and activities having some bearing on one faction or another, chances are that you won't end up pleasing everybody.

Although Boiling Point still has a few months left in development, the code we saw was surprisingly impressive. We spent ages simply exploring the game's 625 square kilometre world, busying ourselves with bailing out of helicopters and landing in piranha-infested rivers, then having to deal with water snakes on the shore. Later on, we discovered the joys of taking pyt a doctor with a pot of jam to the head, then standing back to watch him being finished off by the swarm of angry flies it attracted.

Steaming Into Action

While the engine is technically and aesthetically impressive - the environment dynamically loads as you move around - Boiling Point's success ultimately depends upon the strength and execution of its sprawling world. For example, we found the controls to be sometimes rather unfriendly and fiddly, particularly during combat. The feel of living, breathing cities isn't quite there yet either. However, Deep Shadows has until next spring to tighten things up, so there's still plenty of cause for excitement. More news soon.

If You're a gamer of the "I bought you! Entertain me!" variety that wants seamless, get-up-and-go fun without the chance of breaking a car five minutes away from civilization, wandering back through the jungle, and getting killed by an angry snake just before you get back - don't buy Boiling Point: Road to Hell.

Boiling Point runs better on modern hardware now, although to be frank this game was never going to be pretty. The prime audience are those interested in the ways that games are created and how a concept of pure ruddy brilliance can be buried under bugs and idiosyhcracies that are often hilarious in their omnipresence.

The game's oddly translated, it needs patching desperately, the combat is iffy and if you manage to fly a plane you're a better gamer than any of us - but its sandbox envelope pushing makes it the most interesting failed experiment of the past five years.

Maybe It's a hangover from the space race, maybe not, but it seems like developers from the former Soviet republics always have to shoot for the moon. From Operation Flashpoint to STALKER, it's the same thing - a boundless, almost foolish desire to push the limits to their utmost.

As a former French Legionnaire, Saul Meyer knows how to deal in death and good for him. You see, somebody has kidnapped Saul's daughter Lisa while in South America and it's up to him to brave the very violent underbelly of a fictitious country in order to get her back.

Boiling Point is a good idea gone to crap, the premise is fairly inventive. As a mercenary, you can roam the 240 square miles of bad terrain doing odd (and violent) jobs for the various groups that live in the area. Do a mission for the CIA and get cash, use the cash to buy information, use the information as trade with the mafia and then get in good with the local freedom fighters in order to further the game along. Get it? Good, because unless you are running literally a top end system (P4 3.2, 1Gig of Ram and 256 MB graphics card) you will suffer some of the worst crashes, glitches and performance problems I have ever seen. Not that it will be smooth sailing even with a hot system, this game has more bugs then the Orkin man can handle. Go out there and get the patches that are available.

But by that time, you may not want to continue, if you do so, you'll see that the game is very open ended, you can choose to align yourself with one of the many factions operating in the game, or you can choose to do nothing, there is no direction really given as to what you should do first. So in that respect, you could argue that the game has plenty of replay ability. Sadly it doesn't because of the shortcomings that the designers simply did not fix before the game went gold. For a game that demands so much from your system, we should be demanding more from the game, instead we get, hot and cold graphics, characters whose mouths don't move with the sound and below average action. Sure they pepper the play with lots of weapons and the ability to use vehicles, but I really couldn't get past how badly the game was programmed.

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