In all my life it has occurred to be so, that I'm not keen either for cloddishly categorical opinions, or for futile disputes about matters of tastes, the latter lasting sometimes for months and robbing us of good friends. However, one day everything changes and now impressions from getting through "Runaway: A Road Adventure" may easily bring us to the double breach of traditions, making me say: Heed, people! This is what a true adventure should be!
or "aventura grafica". This is exactly the internationally known expression (clear to everyone, I guess), that Spanish developers and editors of the game use to position it. By the way, they are
not beginners in creating and selling adventures. The game, that may be regarded as the first try from Pendulo Studios, dates back to 1994. Veteran gamers are likely to remember this pretty unusual sweet
college story "Igor: Objective Uikokahonia", with its English version arriving a year later with the help of Optik Software. As for its content, the game turned out to be a lucky try. What is more, it
became the first game produced by the company, which didn't follow a hard lot of the preceding creations that had never been edited.
in 1997 one more graphic game named "Hollywood Monsters" appeared. That was the time when the cooperation with Dinamic Multimedia - initially unplanned, but rather successful, as it revealed later
- began. It all started because the Acclaim company, which had been just about to edit "Monsters", subsequently changed its decision. Unfortunately, this is the mere reason, why I have no special comments
about the game, as both it and its second edition of 1999 conquered only Spanish, Italian and South-American markets. After that event it took somewhat about 24 months and now here it is - the next brain-child
from Pendulo and Dinamic: "Runaway". A game, that doesn't want to retire to itself and transfers into several languages, Russian included.
people are aware that physics is a dull sort of science and there seldom happens something really enthralling and exciting in the lives of those, who devote themselves to it. And so is Brian Basco
aged 23, who has just graduated from Columbia University and has been invited to Berkeley by Professor Silva to continue his research work: he has no special expectations of his life. Right, it is a hard
way planned (for all that, to make an east-west cross through all the States driving a car), but who for the world knows, that in the very beginning of the trip something will happen, changing both Brian's
nearest plans and all his future life. It will happen merely because of the instant decision to break at Manhattan round-the-clock Library by all means, although in the USA it is not a bit more difficult
to post books. The route is somewhat altered, but the fate takes a sharp bend aside and makes the fellow run into (literally as well as figuratively) a cutie young girl, Gina by name, who works in a strip
bar. Oh, dear! He almost runs her over! But she is alive and seems to be not injured at all, though she is down in a faint. Brian takes Gina to hospital, where he gets to know much to his surprise that
in this situation he is not a villain, but nearly a rescuer. As things turn out, the girl has been run over by the car just because she has been rushing headlong from two cutthroats - the Sandretti brothers,
who shortly before that killed her father! Brian stays with the girl begging him for help. Together Brian and Gina - under your guidance - are to get through a good deal of sore trials and to discover
secrets of the mysterious cross, the Indian tribe Hopi, the cut finger, and Gina's secret as well, who, as it turns out, is not quite frank with Brian.
happened so, that I fell in love with the game at first sight. To be more exact, at second one, as at first I only stared at almost black screen and, well, at Brian sitting in the corner. Don't be surprised,
when you see that: "Runaway" is lavishly flavored with the scenes of that kind along of comments from garrulous fellow Basco, helping you to get to the core of the story and to understand, what you have
to do in this or that moment. Hardly anyone can say that it pesters much, but sometimes it seems that it would be more pleasing thing to deal with an off-screen voice against the backdrop of a nice cartoon.
Incidentally, there are fairly enough of the very cartoons on 3 game CDs, so you won't weary of that too often...
the subsequent scene (a mix of a short cartoon and a 3D intro) - with its wonderful music and high-grade graphic design - makes deeper impression, than the speechmaking of our student of physics.
We'll touch upon the former a bit later, and now let's get into points of visual perception. These boys from Pendulo seem to have found, suppose, not a golden mean between 3D and 2D imagery, but a good
"attemperment", which is very close to it (God will, Revolution, picking the concept for the long-expected "Sleeping Dragon", chooses after all something alike). The game gladdens with splendid drawn backgrounds
and 3D characters, which don't run counter to the backdrop at all. Such a result is achieved due to unusual "non-photo-realistic" model rendering, owing to which the models look as if they were freehand
drawings. These in front of us are not common cartoon characters, but three-dimensional models with border smoothing and shadow-and-light effects applied. It is especially noticeable, when Brian, while
holding forth, changes - rather lazily - his pose from time to time, showing everyone his "three-dimensionalness" in all its glory. But if you take a good look at him during the game itself, this will
seem to be common graphics, which may be just more and yet more beautiful (by the way, as far as I remember, the developers don't deceive, saying, that the adopted resolution 1024x768x16bit is the maximum
that creators of graphic adventures ever succeeded to get). In many locations yet you won't meet this impression, as they are "diluted" with 3D objects, enlivening the game world (for example, a flag,
flying over a van in a wild desert). Animated insets, stated altogether to be half an hour long, are worthy of special mention. No doubt, they make the game even more charming, though one should admit,
they are not so detailed as the main action.
now it's just the time to discuss the game process itself. And the main thing that should be said is the following: "Runaway" is a classic adventure with interface a-la "Broken Sword". That implies
the use of standard "mouse" manipulation with two alternatives: either to look at the object, or to do something with it. That implies puzzles, based on the interaction with characters, objects and inventory
(the latter, by the way, being different from that in "Broken Sword": here it is carried out into a separate screen). An indecent lack of "pure" puzzles - actually, if we don't consider a mathematical
problem about liquid pouring taken nearly from the school syllabus, there is only one puzzle left: a modification of a well-known "Bulls-And-Cows" game (but it is deftly entwined to the plot and the authors
can hardly be reproached with "far-fetching"). The game narration is divided into 6 chapters, and in each one you'll have to attempt getting a goal. No time limits, death impossible, not a grain of action.
And what some may treat as a shortcoming of "Runaway" is its linearity. I must say, in the very beginning it crossed my mind that the authors provided for several ways to get one and the same goal, yet
the subsequent events showed that it was an illusion. The plot leads you along the game, letting you take no step aside; many people just don't like it. Right, there's one more thing to mention: the game
may seem to be rather easy - real troubles may likely arise just in a few places, as for the rest you get through without a hitch. Well, here everybody takes his choice, personally I'll tell the only thing:
this is my logic and this is my complexity!
dare say, it remains to tell you about "food for ears". As for it, there are no complaints, besides, it gives only delights! Something about 25 various musical themes, composed for the game by a new-fashion
Spanish band Liquor, create a highly stylish atmosphere. The whole soundtrack is managed by the purposely developed MIP system, which controls the necessity to change a melody depending on actions of a
player. What is more, one can hear a vocal part by the soloist of Liquor, whose voice is very similar to Sheryl Crow's. Several remixes of the song "Runaway", which she performs, touch to the heart and
remain in the memory for a long time - how many days have slipped by since I got through the game, I still keep on murmuring it (by the way, the original version of the song is heard, as it was said, in
the intro). Both sound effects and remarkable Spanish voices are just blameless. I don't know, if other language versions will be that magnificent, but, believe me, in the original it sounds great!
far as I know, in Spain the game is making a big hit at present: a week after it was brought for sale, it took the leading position in the sales charts, and a month and a half later (with the present
review being prepared) it remained in the five as before. If we add, that the game is favorably spoken of and has obtained a good press, one may dream for a while. To dream that it is not in vain, when
the game comes to its end, Brian says a simple, but very important phrase: "See you soon!"
Pentium 200 MMX (Pentium-II 233 recommended),
64 MB RAM (128 recommended), 600 MB HDD (1,4 GB recommended),
8x CD-ROM (24x recommended), DirectX-compatible videocard,
monitor with a support of 1024x768x16bit, mouse,
DirectX-compatible soundcard, Windows 95/98/ME/2000