|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Iren||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Agetec||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 12, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
June 28, 2007 - Raw Danger is almost a great game. It's marred by some poor production values and padded gameplay. It's got some great ideas but lousy execution.
As the sequel to 2003's Disaster Report, Raw Danger shows some significant improvements, but at the same time it fails to come across as a big budget blockbuster. Playing Raw Danger is like being in one of those 70s, epic disaster flicks. In this case, you're caught in the middle of a devastating flood where you'll not only be battling Mother Nature but all of the crumbling infrastructure of the city that you live in. There are some truly memorable moments, but there are also plenty of boring tasks that connect you to the real adventures. Casual and beginning gamers are more likely to enjoy this game from start to finish, but experienced gamers will expect better.
It's unlikely that anyone could overlook the terrible voiceacting and wooden animation. More discerning players will note the plain graphics, trial and error gameplay, and blurry textures. At times, the floodwaters look like green carpeting. Much of the problem with the production values can be attributed to adapting this Japanese game to the North American market. It should have been recreated from scratch. Still, the story is quite good and told in such a way as to really pique your interest. It revolves around different characters taking part in different scenarios. They eventually come into contact with each other. It's interesting to see how things evolve, not to mention that you're not stuck with one or two characters throughout the entire game. You'll even get to play as Keith Helm from the original Disaster Report.
Starting as Josh Harwell, you will find yourself and your island surroundings threatened by a cataclysmic flood of biblical proportions. As the typical video game hero, you're not only about saving your own butt, you're compelled to help those in need. Your first friend-in-need is a coworker, Stephanie. She needs help finding her frail stepmother. As the city collapses around you, you'll encounter all sorts of obstacles that will require skillful control manipulation as well as some deep thinking in order to solve puzzles. You'll have to climb walls, jump chasms, shimmy on ledges, cross makeshift bridges, as well as outrun gushing waters and avoid falling structures. One of the playable characters is in handcuffs, which make it difficult to perform such moves, but the challenge increases as she's being hunted by the law.
While playing as a cab driver, you'll drive the vehicle around town as you meet an assortment of characters. The vehicle is responsive, which is a good thing since you'll have to maneuver it around obstacles and other dangerous surprises. It provides a nice break from the playable characters. There is a good assortment of gameplay variety, but under the surface you'll find that the gameplay is very linear. You don't get a lot of opportunity to experiment with moves and techniques. Often, there is only one path to lead you to safety and on to the next mission. All you have to do is find it, but that can prove frustrating.
To extend the replay value, the storyline is dynamic. The decisions that you make will affect the outcome of your relationship with other characters. You can even cause some of them to die, although you can't really tell what effect your actions will have in the future. You can't anticipate the results, only experience them. This may lead you to replay the game and do things differently. It just wasn't much of an incentive for me since this cause-and-effect element just seems random.
You'll have to keep your characters warm and dry. They will lose precious health through the loss of body heat. A wet character is a cold character, and a cold character is potentially a dead character. In order to keep your character alive, you'll have to search out heat sources such as old radiators in old buildings and fires in barrels. Use these fires to warm yourself up, and at the same time, cook a meal that will help replenish your strength. These heat sources and fires are relatively plentiful. They also serve as checkpoints so that you can start the next mission with a good boost of energy.
Raw Danger is just not a good looking game. Its simple graphics and low-res textures would be more acceptable on the original PlayStation. Thankfully, the control system is good, but the animations that accompany the actions don't inspire much confidence. The voiceacting goes from awful to terrible - and all points in between. There is no feeling put into the readings at all. It's as though the actors have no idea how to portray human emotions. They must be from Canada.
If you're a hardcore gamer looking for something to help you kill a weekend, then rent Raw Danger. Novices will probably want to spend more time with it but I would still suggest renting it first. There are some long, drawn out sections where you trudge along performing all kinds of make-work scenarios. Faced with these mundane tasks, you're unlikely to replay the game more than once.
CCC Senior Writer