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Boiling Point: Road to Hell

So, Boiling Point then. Unfinished, dated, buggy, oddly translated, extraordinarily demanding on the system, brimming with sound problems, riddled with diabolical AI and with voice-acting so bad that one character can occasionally have three voices. But also quite fun. Probably the best shit game on the market. How so?

Very few developers have capitalised on the 'go-anywhere, do-anything' mentality of the GTA series, even fewer have managed to replicate the characters, threaded storylines and player-defined pathways of Deus Ex. This is because they're extraordinarily hard feats to pull off, and it's far easier for a developer to eat pizza, present the gamer with a big corridor and a bigger gun and leave them to it. Deep Shadows, however, is clearly up for a challenge and has created a game that tries to mix the two. The company's clearly bitten off more than it can chew - but even though a lot of goodness has fallen away from the final product, even the most stubborn gamer would have to admit that there are some niceties that have been left to chew over.

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Boiling Point features a Billy Zane looky-likey called The Mummy (Arnold Vosloo -Ed), searching for his errant journalist daughter in a country in South America. I'm not overly sure which country (and neither is the game), but it isn't a very pleasant place and stars a burgeoning cast of mafia, bandits, government soldiers, guerillas, CIA agents, civilians and some brain-deadeningly stereotypical Native Indians. Every faction likes to kill each other, and all of them want things or people stolen, killed or rescued in exchange for cash. You know the score.

FOLLOW THE PATH...
Depending on what factions you side with, or how rude you are to the people you meet, different pathways open up. They're all similar pathways in truth, since everyone wants their pockets lined in exchange for your violent services, but genuine effort has clearly gone into providing different playing experiences for different people. It may not be as complex as Morrowind (you either play as a nasty bastard, or a really nasty bastard), but you're continually aware that there are multiple ways of making your way through the game.

This is backed up by a slightly Deus Ex-come-Project IGI feel to the missions themselves, in which you can generally approach an enemy base from a multitude of angles, with open windows, casually placed guards and some secret documents somewhere between them all.

FAULT LINES
The main issue with Boiling Point is that reading the list of things you can do in the game is far more exciting than actually doing them in-game. Having tyres blown out and replacing them, flying planes, traversing the massive play-area in stolen vehicles, getting drunk in bars and staggering out, flying helicopters, upgrading weapons, crossing and double-crossing NPC characters... It's the template for the best game of all time. But it never ever becomes anything more than a template.

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Despite being pretty plain in the looks department, the game ate my machine alive - if you've got anything less than 1024MB RAM, you'll undoubtedly discover some moments of extreme jerkery coupled with some major loading times. For a plain Jane like Boiling Point, you can't help but think of this as a major programming flaw. What's more, the AI in your enemies revolves around little more than standing and shooting (sometimes in a building, sometimes in a field, sometimes even in a bush). Plus, when they do move it's either a brainless jog in a random direction or in the form of a mystifying any-direction roly-poly. It's dire.

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