Monday, 27 June 2011

Herr Bartlett, put your hends....Eppp!: Escape from Colditz - Digital Magic Software (Commodore Amiga)

It's 1943. The world is gripped by war. The Allies are preparing the plans to overthrow the German War Machine on the beaches of Normandy and the ill fated Operation Market Garden in a years time. But, for some, they have no choice but to sit out the war, in Stalag compounds and one war time prison. The most infamous of them all. They said it was impossible to escape from. They were wrong.

Based on the 4 books by Major Reid (one of the escapees), you control one of 4 main characters of various nationalities that you can switch between at any time. Your job is simple: escape by any means necessary, either by tunneling out or in a wooden box (if you attempt to just run out the front door). You can do this by picking up keys, lockpicks, German uniforms and the required papers, shovels and saws, and using them accordingly (for instance, certain panels can be sawn out, and either stuff hidden underneath, or tunnels can be dug.). Certain areas are considered off limits, like the German Quarters, and if you are caught, any items on your person will be confiscated, and you'll be thrown in solitary confinement.

The game is really deep, as there is so much to do: dodging guards while out after hours, digging tunnels, impersonating guards while finding the relevant tools, escaping the guards who have found you. The graphics are great, even with the minimal use of colour (especially when you've been put in solitary). Another element consists of when you get caught in an out of bounds area (as mentioned before), all the tools and items you were carrying get taken off you, meaning the game gets harder as you've less of the tools to help you escape. This throws a bit of intensity into the game, meaning you have less tools to work with, which means working out what rooms to open or not, as some are only furnished with a bed or a table or even contain a lockpick or key.

The guards' AI is extremely on the ball. And if you're not meant to be somewhere, they will catch you, or shoot you. This also adds another bit of intensity to the game, and it's refreshing to see this in a game, and it never feels unfair.

If you can't find the original version on the Amiga, grab the recently released PC port, which is nigh on perfect, and even retains the original music, which is awsome.
And not a Bottom reference or an image of David McCallum in a dodgy moustache sight!

Oh, bugger!

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