Protests of the Extinction Rebellion across London to tackle climate change, something I personally feel strongly about because you know, it’s just the survival of all life on this planet. What a better way to celebrate humanity, when it comes to climate change then playing a game involving an earthquakes and tidal waves?
Ladies and gentlelads, I give you the PlayStation 2 cult classic, SOS: The Final Escape, also know Disaster Report for the folks across the pond and in Japan it is known as Zettai Zetsumei Toshi (絶体絶命都市 The Desperate City).
In SOS: The Final Escape, you play as journalist Keith Helm, an everyday kind of man as displayed by his first name (Keith!), who’s just on the way to his first day at work. An earthquake strikes Stiver Island -the games location- and truly wrecks the place. You wake up after being knocked out, trying to survive the rough terrain, you must find an exit but a long the way you will meet other various survivors and maybe there is more to this disaster than you think? Woooohoooooo.
A low budget and an early PlayStation 2 title, SOS looks pretty rough. It has that very square, bland texture look when developers where just starting to handle 3D environments. Though the game makes good use of it’s limitations by using some good camera angles by really capturing the set pieces cinematically and building the tension.
Throughout the game you will see Keith’s clothes get more and more haggard, a small touch that was starting to be introduced more in videogame from this era. However, it does add the sense of desperation within the characters and a sense of exhaustion.
I was, at points, pleasantly surprised with the sound design. There are destruction noises when buildings and stuff is collapsing leaves much to be desired at times, other times the pure volume of it attacks your senses and creates urgency. The most effective use of sound was when you are at high levels and wind sound kicks in, though the mixing is done poorly it is a nice attention to detail that kind of makes up for its low budget, adding a layer of isolation in this cityscape.
And what would a low budget game from the 2000’s be without awful dialogue and voice acting? I’ll tell you what, boring. Yes, SOS has some terrible voice acting and writing that made me actually laugh out loud. It’s brilliant, it’s charming and it makes the game more entertaining. It adds this B-movie quality that is perfectly fitting for the game. If it was seriously, it would take something away from the experience.
Where this game really shines is in the gameplay. As this is a 3D adventure game with slight survival mechanics involved, levels tend to be ‘go from point A to point B’, with you using items to help you progress through the level. Though, this may sound boring and repetitive the game keeps it enjoyable.
One way the developers achieve this is through the aftershock system, as you can be strolling around, minding your own business and then an aftershock shakes the place up sending you on your arse. It’s a nice little mechanic that always keeps you on your toes and adds a little excitement to something very generic and boring.
The other way the game keeps you engaged is through the set pieces, running away from falling buildings, cars exploding, the game can really push things into gear and sometimes unexpectedly. This is due to the excellent pacing, as most of the game it’s very quiet with these little rumbles and then out of nowhere it turns up to eleven.
Furthermore, the game does have some rudimentary stealth sections, though the one in the office is done particularly well.
As its kind of a survival game, you not only have to be mindful your health but also your thirst, as you must find bottles to fill with water at various taps etc, some may contain dirty water which also take a fair chunk of health off you. These water fountains also act as a in level save point, the bonfire for you soul’s heads out there.
You have item management system, with bags only storing said number of squares, meaning you must make sure you have enough space to store both survival equipment and items that will help you proceed through the story.
The game adds a lot intentional humor, allowing you to wear silly hats or sunglasses you find around the island to find unusual compasses, like a turtle compass or a surfer guy; the developers know you are here to have fun.
Moreover, sections of the game you have choices to make, making your character a bit of bum hole and with multiple endings, the game has bang for its bucks.
SOS may have all these mechanics, but they all don’t matter that much. I very rarely died so health items don’t really matter, I very rarely drank from a bottle and the overall game is relatively easy but that’s ok because it’s fun. The games ambition allows you to buy into it, you can see where the developers were heading.
SOS-Final Escape is a unique, fun and exciting PlayStation 2 game. It has thrills and spills around every corner but never loses sight of the games intention to provide you, the gamer a fun time. A game anyone collector should get their hands on because it’s well worth it (it’s cheap too).
Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean and YouTube
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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