Prison Break: The Conspiracy is an action-adventure game developed by ZootFly and published by Deep Silver. It is available on The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The premise of the game is that you are Tom Paxton, a secret agent working for The Company, who has infiltrated the prison that Michael Scofield is being held in. It is your job to ensure that yet another character, Lincoln Burrows, is executed (despite being locked up for a crime he didn’t commit). This sets the scene for linear missions and straight-forward gameplay which will turn your mind to mush.
If you have seen the first series (personally, I haven’t) of Prison Break then you already know exactly how this game will pan out. If you are so desperate to revisit the TV show, I suggest you do so via the means of your DVD player. In fact, jamming shards of glass into your eyes would be more pleasant than playing this game (don’t try this at home). All the missions consist of stealthing around the prison, avoiding guards, to retrieve items from areas you’re not allowed in. Cue cupboards, vents and un-killable guards/inmates. That’s right, you cannot use the combat as an alternative to the stealth mechanic.
The final part of each mission is the dreaded quick-time event, or as I like to call them: ‘Press a button not to die’ events. The fact that this is forced on you after 10 minutes of moving around a level which seems not to be a prison layout you are stealthing through, but a stealthing layout with a prison skin applied, makes it all the more irritating. Should the worst happen (assuming you chose the game over the glass shards) and you are detected, you can simply press A to restart from one of the ample checkpoints. You cannot distract or disable the guards, and any non-inmate AI who sees you will force a restart from that checkpoint – you can only walk slowly around them. Conversely, Cameras which block your path can be easily disabled by knocking them. This game belongs in a padded cell, it’s schizophrenic.
There are three minigames included for your gaming (dis)pleasure: punch bag, weightlifting and fighting. These mini-games reward the player with experience, which can be used to level up the character. However, there are only 2 fighting moves (normal punch and heavy punch) and both are unlocked from the start. Neither does levelling up seem to bestow more health on you. Put simply, there is no reason for the levelling mechanic to have been included in the game, other than to make you play it longer. In a word: Don’t.
The controls in the game are simple, but still gimped. Instead of moving the character, you simply move the camera, which means you can run as fast sideways as you can forward (and so are blessed with athletic skills comparable to Usain Bolt). The combat mechanic is also broken: every fight can be won by varying the punch you use and blocking at predictable intervals; and rewards you with in-game currency you can only use to get tattoos. These confer no benefits or disadvantages on the player character, so are useless.
The graphics used in the game are reminiscent of previous-generation efforts. You will soon feel that rather than being pushed, the console is slowly jogging. There are many issues with the engine, including texture bugs and pop-up. There are no pre-rendered cut-scenes, so you will be forced to watch the events of the TV series played out in ps2-era graphics (THE HORROR). For a game which is trying to keep-up with the other stealth games on the market, things do not look good. [Pun intended.] The voice-acting is done by stand-ins. Whether the budget was not enough to book the TV cast, or they saw this disaster looming and ran from it, is hard to say. Most of the NPC dialogue feels rushed, and wooden. This game neither looks nor sounds good.
This is another shameless attempt to cash-in on a TV show and which will quickly find its way into the bargain bin at any retailer. If you want Prison Break action, I suggest you go buy the Series 1 boxset. Not only will you get far more enjoyment out of it, but you won’t have your soul tarnished by this game either.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Only 8 hours long, No collectables to force replay.
Last-gen graphics, Stand-in voice-acting, Broken controls, Irrelevant levelling system, Repetitive missions, Forced quick-time events, Flawed Stealthmode, Mirrors TV show exactly.
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