Boiling Point Road To Hell

Different people boil at different degrees, we're told. Saul Meyers -protagonist of Deep Shadows' ambitious FPS - has lost his daughter in South America.

He's packed himself, a knife and a pistol on a flight out of Paris, and soared to that fateful temperature where enough truly becomes enough. Depending on your familiarity with both eastern European development and sandbox games in general, what happens next is either the last thing or everything you'd expect.

Meyers sells coconuts, hunts wild animals, learns to drive a boat, ferries miscellaneous items from one place to another - essentially he demonstrates all the patience and persistence required of a man not on a mission, but on a frankly selfish grab bag of missions.

Boiling Point is an obsessive hybrid of GTA, Deus Ex and Far Cry that, despite its sweltering climes and infernal subtitle, feels persistently cold.

Its geometry is impressive for a game that boasts over 625 square kilometres of intricately rendered terrain and uninterrupted (by loading bars, at least) gameplay.

But if the intent of such a feat is heightened immersion, then the game's thin spread of character and finesse threatens that illusion long before it ever heats up.

An efficient waypoint system leads from one mission or previously encountered NPC to the next, and is one of the game's strong points. Concern, however, lies in the overwhelmingly generic design and the niggling fragility that pervades throughout.

You're expected to nurture a reputation with rival factions, but it can all be undermined when, thanks to an awkward camera and complex geography, you haplessly reverse your car over an idling foot solider.

In attempting to fully employ the power of a modern PC (and it'll have most owners wondering if theirs are any modern enough) the game currently sits awkwardly between the visual simplicity of the console sandbox fraternity and the near-realism of the modern FPS.

Textures often feel as if they've been thrown at objects; characters convey little humanity via their sporadic dialogue and yapping jaws.

Actor Arnold Vosloo provides the player's likeness but, though he's recognisable, the presence he imposed in The Mummy and 24 seems muted here.

The disconcerting impression is that the game's Ukranian developer has long been labouring under a false pretence: that the sole virtue of an open-world game is the number of swings in the playground.

For its thousands of weapon combinations, cars, tanks, boats and planes, few of Boiling Point's toys feel particularly enjoyable to play with. There may be a vital layer of polish yet to be added but, at such a late stage, this enormous project may well end up feeling like a job half done.

Boiling Point Road to Hell is out for PC on 20 May