The year is 2009. Prison Break has been canceled by 20th Century Fox. Fast forward to 2010, and Prison Break: The Conspiracy by developer Zootfly and publisher Deep Silver is released, even though it was originally supposed to hit in February 2009. When Brash Entertainment collapsed, the title was dropped and Zootfly self-funded the title for over a year until Deep Silver swooped in and saved the day. Why? I’m not entirely sure, seeing as how the show didn’t really have a big fanbase. I’m guessing Deep Six didn’t play the game before picking it up, but unfortunately, we did, and unless you run the Prison Break Wikipedia page, you’re going to want to keep this one far, far away from your PlayStation 3.
Prison Break: The Conspiracy follows the events of the first season of the series, so if you watched the show, then you already know what happens. It’s time to break your brother who has been framed out of prison! Huzzah! Not so fast though: you don’t play as the main character, Michael Scofield, but rather as Tom Paxton, an agent for ‘The Company’ that framed Michael’s brother and is now trying to discover why Michael wanted into prison. Spoiler alert: To break out his brother! Oh my! The game attempts to combine the best of a beat’em up, Metal Gear Solid, and Uncharted into one sweet package, but fails to do so properly.
One reason why it failed is because the controls flat out suck. The camera is placed too close to Tom and you have to hold R1 to run. When you begin to run, Tom likes to glide around the stage, rather than run. It feels as if the entire prison was built on an ice hockey rink. Try to turn too fast, and rather than turning, you glide for a second, then turn. What makes matters worse is the ‘Uncharted’ style areas of the game. Want to know why Uncharted 2 won 32 Game of the Year awards? Not only because the exploring areas were fun to well, explore, but they also had spot-on controls to make the process that much easier. If you haven’t caught on by now, Prison Break does not. This turns the gameplay into a hell of a mess and ruins the whole process.
Gameplay is broken into three different styles: The loosely-controlled Uncharted style of climbing and exploring areas, the poorly-implemented Metal Gear Solid style of stealth, and the bare bones combat system. The combat first since it doesn’t even feature a lock-on cursor of any type, so when you’re ready to fight a fellow inmate, all it comes down to is taping square and x as fast as you can. Too bad the crappy control problems are ever-present as you have to push the button what seems like a million times just to get a few hits in.
The stealth sections of the game are even worse. After playing the Metal Gear series for year and more recently, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s awesome stealth scenes, Prison Break fails miserably. The AI is dumb as a sack of potatoes! Want proof? I watched as a cop literally shined his flashlight on a wall for over 2 minutes before I advanced the game. Even though the AI can be stupid as all get-out, it has the amazing ability to spot you without even looking at you. Amazing! To make matters worse, when you’re noticed by anyone, that game doesn’t alert you. Nope. You could be twenty feet past the guard, not knowing that he saw you and the guard will just continue to follow you until he finds you, then simply stares at you until the continue screens appears. Uh, ok? The stealth sections in this game are about as fun as stepping in a pile of dog crap and cleaning it out of the crevices of your shoes, but what stinks even worse than the gameplay has to be the dialogue.
As a game based on a television show which featured scripts from professional writers, the guys over at ZootFly SHOULD have hired someone from the show to write the script for the game, because the dialogue is gagtastic. I’ll describe a conversation for you. Cop to Secretary: ‘Oh my, my pants sure are tight in the crouch.’ Secretary: ‘Oh no, we certainly can’t have our cops having that.’ His response: ‘No, we can’t.’ ‘I can fix that for you,’ she says. Just imagine that with some of the cheesiest voice acting ever, and you’ll know why my wife busted out laughing while she watched me play Prison Break: The Conspiracy. George Lucas circa Star Wars: Episode 2 could have written better dialogue than this.
The game does manage to do a couple things right though. The digital versions of the stars of the show look really good, and you can easily identify who is who. In fact, the graphics really aren’t that bad. Sure, the game isn’t going to win any awards, but the characters are easy on the eyes and considering the fact that this was ZootFly’s first PS3 game, it’s not a bad effort, graphics-wise.
When it comes down to it, the clunky controls lead to bad gameplay which is ultimately boring and uninspiring. In the end, the game just isn’t fun to play, and is more frustrating than anything else. There’s a reason why Prison Break: The Conspiracy will only be bought by the Prison Break Wikipedia page manager–it just isn’t that good. With so many quality titles that have hit this year for the PlayStation 3, please, please don’t waste your money on this game, no matter how big a fan you are. I suffered through the game so that you don’t have to. So if you happen to see the game at your local store run, don’t walk, away from it and never look back.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Clunky controls derail the entire game
Boring and uninspiring gameplay kills any chance of the game being good