Boiling Point: Road To Hell

A complex, non-linear shooting-oriented adventure, Boiling Point's ambition can't be faulted. Encompassing every inch of a mythical South American locale ruled by a variety of colourful, cliched factions, its physical scale is impressive enough. That your character - an against-the-odds mercenary looking for his missing daughter - can take on missions for any of those factions and more besides, balancing some delicately interlocking relationships in his personal quest makes it even more so. It's a big, big game, not your traditional winding-corridor firstperson shooter, offering shades of Deus Ex and maybe even Grand Theft Auto. But while talk from the developer is bullish, ambition may not be enough.

For a start, it's a physically unattractive game, something that's undoubtedly going to count against it in the fascistic graphics-oriented world of PC gaming. Presumably that's part of a compromise between the size of the world and its beauty; it'd be a very sparse forest indeed if every tree was rendered to, say, Far Cry levels of majesty. Regardless, the visuals do the concept no favours. Equally, the game's combat looks random and fiddly, and irritating in that brutal, deadly manner that has become common to modern PC first person shooters. For a game based predominantly around point'n'click combat, that may prove an issue.

Still, there is a lot here for Atari to be proud of, and our view of the game in action hardly lasted long enough to make a perfect judgement call. Hopefully, the developer will be able to pull it off; as there's nothing wrong with the design except for perhaps a lack of restraint. The problem with trying to do so much is that often you end up falling short on each and every goal, and it looks like Deep Shadows has some polishing to do before its product matches the spectacular vision.

Boiling Point: Road To Hell will be released for PC in 2005