Review by bodo_parkour
"Defying the laws of physics and gravity alike..."
As a traceur myself, this game is a little strange for me. I can pick up the controller and do everything that I can do elsewhere on my television. It's a great idea to extend the reach of parkour, or freerunning, to the masses who aren't able to participate themselves. But the game doesn't just teach or show parkour, or even freerunning for that matter. It leaves behind most of the rules and jumps straight up to the jaw dropping stuff we see in the professional media.
Once you start playing, you'll realise that the game doesn't exactly fit into the 'complete freedom' perspective that's mentioned on the box. In fact, the game feels full of invisible walls in that, while you are free to do what you wish, you have to do it in a tight space, which is incredibly claustrophobic. Underneath all the horrible level designs, however is a gripping game with many strong points and a few weaker ones.
The first few levels take place in a gym, where you are taught basic moves by freerunning great: Sebastien Foucan. The participation of famous names really gives the game a lifelike feel and the inclusion of real life parkour and freerunning clips is an extra bonus. Sebastien doesn't teach you all of the moves though, and there isn't a list of them in the instruction manual either. It's up to you to experiment with combinations until you stumble upon something cool, like an extra spin on an already learnt trick. This is exactly like the real life philosophy behind the points and the game really makes you feel like you're a great explorer.
Despite the amazing sense of realism, the game lacks in the quality of the control system. The analogue stick feels clunky and detracts from the otherwise perfect experience, and the poor camera controls are difficult to adjust to. As you'd probably expect given the varied nature of the game, performing tricks isn't as simple as 1.2.3. You've got to work hard to remember all the button combinations and sometimes you'll need to repeat some of the training levels just for a reminder on how to complete some of the harder combinations.
After you've played the game for a while, you'll stop worrying about hitting the right buttons at the right time, and will start to see the real picture. In this game you can do almost anything. Fancy some death defying leaps? Yep, you can do them all right. Just remember to roll afterwards to break your fall though. Throughout the game you'll be given warnings about all the dangerous moves, and this is a terribly annoying. The developers don't want to be responsible for any accidents that occur that are blamed on the games influences and ideas.
In something so encompassing as freerunning, one could wonder what you'd actually do in the game, apart from run around. There are challenges to complete and miniature obstacle courses scattered throughout each location. One example is a challenge where you have to get from point A to point B without setting foot on the ground. Challenges like this vary from being simple to the immensely complex and there are challenges for everyone. None are impossible, and the enthusiasm you build up while playing will make you want to try and try again until you reach the goal of completion. There's plenty for the newcomer and the experienced traceur to do, and this increases the replay value of the game.
Apart from the obviously impossible manoeuvres (like wall runs that span entire rooms), the game ends up being an incredible unique title that you'd need to have no imagination to not enjoy this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/03/07
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