White Gold: War in Paradise – hands-on

We were determined not to hearken back to White Gold’s predecessor when writing up our impressions of the open-world shooter, but when you’re sprinting down a road being chased by a disastrously animated snake, it’s hard not to conjure up memories of Boiling Point’s hovering death pumas. The preview code we’ve been playing is rough as hell (yet thankfully stable), with some outlandish placeholder translations and legally dubious game assets too – a sound effect from Windows 95 when you level up and a near-perfect recreation of a Canon 30D digital SLR camera being our favourite copyright infringements.

Some pre-packaged save games guided us through the game’s features and vehicles. Jumping into ‘Plane.sav’ afforded us the privilege of pootling about in one of the game’s seaplanes, a jaunty vehicle that obeyed physics in only a very casual fashion. Decelerating, for instance, seemed to convert all our forward momentum into sideways velocity, propelling us alarmingly over some islands. Other saved games conveyed yet more of the game’s features, including one mission in which you encounter a suicidal man (cutely translated to ‘self-killer’).

You can either coax this guy down from a ledge by fetching his psychiatrist, or goad him into diving into the pavement head first. This is the kind of thing that would benefit from a sharp script, as even once you’ve summoned his counselor, there’s a maze of branching dialogue to navigate before he calms down. There’s dark, wayward humor tied up in here too, hinting at an underlying cleverness to the game that’s lost in translation.

Despite all these loose ends, there’s something innately promising about White Gold. Even though you’ll chuckle at the crooked animation and the lines of powdery, white ‘adrenaline’ you’ll loot from corpses, there are more ideas in here than most other open-world shooters. Our first actions in the game involved leaping off a pier having seen some interesting tropical fish, stabbing said fish with a Bowie knife, and being delighted that we could pick up the dead fish and see it in our inventory. The inventory description promises that we can cook it too.

Developer Deep Shadows have let their ideas run wild with White Gold, admittedly without looking back very often to make sure those ideas will fit together properly. As such, you can’t walk five metres into the jungle without seeing something that’s mildly interesting. For instance, after exiting the pier at the beginning of the game, somebody began to shout about “a man up there”. We looked around and there indeed was a man standing up on top of the mountain. We couldn’t for the life of us figure out why that man was there, but for some reason, we liked that he was.

We don’t mean to take the piss out of Deep Shadows (our fluency in Ukrainian is rusty to say the least) but this early version of White Gold has some hilariously translated dialogue. Part of us would love to see the charmingly clumsy English make it to the final release, but we’re certain it’s an area of the game which will be improved upon in the coming months. Hopefully…

Jan 12, 2009

Steve Hogarty

Steve Hogarty is a London-based freelance journalist covering games and technology. His bylines have appeared in publications including GamesRadar, The Independent, Yahoo, VICE, Eurogamer, and more. He is also the co-host of the pocast, Regular Features.