RLH: Run Like Hell
By: Matt C. on October 16, 2002
After being in development for what seems like an eternity, Run Like Hell is finally out on store shelves. Was it worth the wait? Not really, but Run Like Hell is still far from a terrible game.
The best way to describe Run Like Hell is a sci-fi version of Resident Evil. But instead of pre-rendered backgrounds, RLH offers real 3D environments in which you can freely move the camera. At times, the camera has a tendency to swing around in awkward positions during combat, but it usually isn't a major problem -- especially since holding down the R1 button keeps you locked onto your foe even if they move off-screen.
Combat in RLH mostly consists of aiming your weapon and unloading it until all of the aliens around you are dead. With the aid of the L1 button, your character can dodge attacks in any direction that you choose. Unfortunately, this maneuver is practically useless when dealing with the game's faster enemies. However, one feature that is really useful during the heat of battle is the ability to regain health with the simple push of the R3 button. There is no need to pause the game to use a health pack for example. Switching weapons on the fly is equally as easy. This really keeps the action flowing instead of breaking it up by always having to visit the inventory screen.
When you're not killing aliens, RLH usually has you searching for keycards or a pass code to enter a locked room. In fact, a large portion of RLH is searching for items that you need to progress in the game. This is fine and all, but most of the puzzles are basically the same. All you have to do is find a piece of paper with a code on it, unlock the door, and move on in the game. Lather, rinse, and repeat several dozen times.
To be fair, RLH does offer some variety in its gameplay. For example, in several parts of the game, you need to control a robot from a computer console and arm it with a blowtorch or a bomb to defeat a particularly large alien called a "Brute".
During the course of the game, you'll eventually have access to about ten weapons -- including assault rifles, shotguns and energy weapons such as the pulse rifle and the repeater rifle. Ammo is somewhat scarce in RLH but to make up for it your default weapon is a simple rifle that has infinite ammunition. The space station in RLH is also filled with mod chips (modification chips) that can be used to upgrade certain weapons. You can upgrade a weapons' damage, firing rate, or clip size.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Run Like Hell is the lack of variety in the alien types. For most of the game, you're attacked by the same old aliens over and over again. The smaller aliens usually drop from the ceiling while the larger ones stand in place and wait for you to appear, or they come out of odd looking "doors" constructed by the aliens themselves on the space station. Everything is too predictable. Hence, there are very few moments in RLH that will actually frighten you.
However, the thing that kept me playing Run Like Hell is the storyline. Granted, it isn't exactly mind-blowing, but it was interesting enough to hold my attention. In fact, some nights I would find myself playing the game two, three, or four hours at a time just to find out what happens next. The characters are likable mostly because of the great voice acting. For instance, Nick Conner (the main character) is played by Lance Henriksen. The dialogue can be awkward at times, but it isn't too bad. Nick even drops a few "f-bombs" during some of the game's numerous cut scenes.
Run Like Hell also supports Dolby Surround Sound, which adds to the game's spooky atmosphere. Some of the sound effects (such as doors opening) are typical stuff, but the sound of an alien approaching me from behind certainly sent chills up my spine the first time I heard it.
As for the graphics, they are rather under whelming. The character models are nice and most of the space station's various sections and areas look convincing, but some textures are on the dull side. Everything has an overly dark and drab look to it. To make matters worse, the animations aren't quite as smooth as they should be. They look better in the real-time cut scenes, but not by much.
In the end, I still enjoyed playing through RLH despite some tedious gameplay and unappealing graphics. The game is quite long and the storyline kept me interested. Like I said, Run Like Hell is far from perfect, but I still recommend that you at least give it a chance. You never know, you may like it.