#751 Free Running

Posted: 9th May 2012 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

146th played so far

Genre: Sports
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Publisher: Ubisoft

Parkour, for the few who haven’t seen or read about this, is a fairly new sport that’s mostly about running around roofs, ledges and other backstreets of cities, trying to not break your neck as you run around. This, of course, had to be put into a game… after all, it’s popular with some kids. Just slap on enough warnings to make sure they don’t keep doing it.

We’ve made a few references to this game in our write-ups before – both Prototype and Infamous use parcours to make you move around the city, both with their own twists and other games like Spider-Man 2 make use of similar principles. These games are influenced by this sport and possibly game… intentional or not, will it stand up to that?

Our Thoughts

You know, Ill just start off with our judgement. This isn’t a good game (to be honest, it’s pretty crap). There are control issues, it’s graphically behind its time and it’s not doing many things all that way and it influences. Even worse, it squanders its potential.

Step one, the part that got to us most: controls. You know, when developing games, you use certain buttons for certain actions. Partially because people are used to them – you know, X (on your Playstation 1-3) or A (on your Xbox 1-360) mean jump. Second, there’s accessibility – if you jump a lot in a game, you want the button be in a natural position. Say, X (on your Playstation 1-3) or A (on your Xbox 1-360). It’s where your thumb is, so that way it makes sense.

You know what Free Running uses? Circle. I forgot every ten seconds and missed it every five. The thing is that games tend to map different controls to different buttons and that it absolutely fine. It would be boring if every game was controlled in the same way. However, there are certain buttons we use because it’s natural to us. That’s why, whenever you play games like Final Fantasy VII, half the battle is realising the X is not the action button. Then again Free Running is very reaction-time centred (in some ways, in others it’s very finickity) so this constant confusion does not support the idea of fluid gameplay.

Second, I’ll be honest, we originally thought this game was released a few years before what we saw here. Graphically, it looks more 2004-2005 rather than 2007, with drab environments. Even worse here, the player models are best described as similar. There’s about eight different characers to pick from, each with different (otherwise unexplained) characteristics. Thing is, they only look slightly different – it’s obvious they used the same model with a different skin each time, which makes for very butch women and indistinct men.

It’s all well and good saying that for 2007 the graphics are pretty pants but is this fair? I mean in 2007 most games had crossed the generation gap with titles like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warefare and Zack & Wiki looking rather wonderful in HD (ok the Wii does not have HD but go with it). Then there is God of War IIseriously… I would like to know what went wrong with Free Running apart from either a terrible budget or a lazy graphics department.

So right, we get past the bad controls and ugly graphics, so what remains? A game that’s tough to get through and that unfortunately gives only limited opportunity for exploration. With Prototype giving you all of Manhattan, four buildings aren’t really as impressive, and while they’re set up for more tricks, they’re not that many more that they actually becoming interesting and fun.

With the tricks and courses possible, the variety may seem fun and allow for many challenges, but when we then look at Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, that game does it better and did so 7 years earlier. It might be the skateboard, it might be speed… in the end this is done better. And if they’d gone to such a more interesting setup for this game, it would have been better. This would have been a better game, if they only tried.

Final Thoughts

Seeing how we are nearing 150 we have been thinking about what the best and worst games have been since we played Facade all those months ago. Just as Jeanne d’Arc has been a late runner for best game of the fifty now Free Running is in with a chance for worst game. I guess this is what you get for making a game endorsed by a clothing line.

  1. […] we’ve said a lot about Free Running already, but I’ll not go on about that after Peter already did. Let’s just say that was […]