Prisoner of War
Prisoner of War is the newest game released by European game giant Codemasters. You are a pilot who has been shot down during World War II and taken prisoner by the Germans, or 'Krauts'? as your character likes to say. You are faced with many individual missions in your overall attempt to escape from your German captors.
Surprisingly enough, the game is not full of violence and blood as I had originally expected. Occasionally you get shot if you stray where you are not supposed to, but even then you usually live and you don't bleed all over the place. With the lack of blood and gore, you are forced to actually play a game of strategy and stealth as opposed to plowing your way through the enemy with guns blazing.
While the graphics and sound are nothing to do cartwheels over, they are adequate for the game, but do not use the Xbox's full potential by any means. The faces are a bit grainy and the 'mean? Krauts always seem to be smiling. Oddly enough they never really yell at you either. Controls are easy to learn and easy to master after only a small amount of time playing. Get good at crouching and climbing fences as soon as you can. The guards are a little dumb, but they always seem to be where you don't want them.
The goals are specific and you get a lot of help, so it is not an excessively hard game. It's fun to play through once, but I'm not sure that I would play it more than that in order to top my best time or anything. While I think that some people will think this is a great game, the majority will find it moderate to low on the overall greatness scale. Rent Prisoner of War before you buy it, or borrow it if you can save the rental fee.
Download Prisoner of War
Your brief window of opportunity comes right after the spotlight sweeps by and the guard turns his back. You sprint for the only part of the fence without barbed wire and quickly climb over. Before anyone notices, you crouch down in the tall grass, out of sight. You just hope no one heard you or sees your footprints in the snow, or else it's solitary confinement. That's the type of intense, gun-less, adrenaline-filled gameplay that fills this WWII prison-camp game. No sickly love stories or mind-boggling plotlines that'll make you want to jump off the George Washington Bridge here. This is pure sneak-around action, with a little character interaction (bribery, hints and even deception) to guide you along. You'll get a rush out of learning and exploiting the prison-camp routines and guard patrols, and knowing you just got away with one helluva covert-mission run, leaving those sour Krauts dumbfounded and PO'ed. And even though you'll revisit the same camps in later levels, the objectives are varied enough that you won't mind the redundancy. I was almost prepared to say POW is more fun than Metal Gear Solid 2 with its emphasis on gameplay over, well, all that other crap that dragged down Solid Snake's adventure. But POW was let out early on some technicality: Another month of clean-up development work could've polished up the controls, graphics and unusually stupid A.I.
Nothing screams fun like a Nazi prison camp. POW is the first non-violent WWII-themed game with a plot lifted straight from classic war flicks. With multiple ways to complete each mission, POW*s Shenmue-meets-Metal-Gear-Solid stealth vibe creates both freedom and tension. What hurts the game, however, are the pasty graphics and occasionally dopey A.I. (At one point, I was crouching right next to a guard and he didn't notice a thing!) It made me want to throw the game into solitary confinement. Despite its spotty production values and wimpy pacificist ways, ROW'S varied gameplay kept me planning my next great escape. A worthy rental.
Imagine Metal Gear Solid with all of the stealth and none of the fighting. That pretty much sums up POW, a game plagued by an awkward inventory system, occasionally twitchy controls and half-witted guards. (I've seen goldfish with longer attention spans--the Germans give up chasing you after 10 seconds of running. Usually in circles. While you're hiding in a bush. Next to them.) But it's not all bad. POW won't win any graphical awards, but it sports superb voice acting, a novel premise and intelligent mission design. I was hoping for more Nazi killing and less clambering over fences, but this is still an interesting stealth-genre diversion.