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March 4, 2003
The Great Escape - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
29/8/2003SciPivotal1$99.95

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Waiting for the train.
When people ask me what are my favourite war movies there are three that come instantly to mind. The first is Where Eagles Dare with Clint Eastwood. The second is Platoon which is based during the Vietnam war - not a nice movie, but one with a lot of impact. By far my favourite however is The Great Escape. Hell, I have the movie on VHS, the original DVD release with original mono soundtrack and also the Special Edition with "faked" surround sound but a tonne of terrific extras. It was with much excitement then that I learned that SCi are currently developing a game based on the classic movie.

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Not exactly correct Nazi logos.
The Great Escape is based on the 1963 Oscar nominated film staring Steve McQueen and revolves around actual events during WW2. The game is set in a number of unique locations, from POW camps to a mountain-top castle. Game levels include a busy hospital, a chase through a moving train and escape from an active Luftwaffe airfield. The core of the game centres on the largest mass breakout ever, from the 'escape proof' Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp. The game uses the powerful storyline and strong characters from the film to place the player in the heart of the action, as the POW's resist the German war machine. It uses a combination of stealth, combat and frantic action involving multiple vehicles and an awesome motorbike based finale.

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The classic motorbike escape.
Obviously SCi have taken some license to generate their own scenarios. The movie contains little or no footage in the hospital, through a train or on the airfield and these would have been expanded considerably for the game. One of the key elements to this game is the unique combination of different gameplay that mirrors the dynamic changes in the film - slow stealthy sections, and fast-paced adrenalin filled combat and chase sequences. Naturally there is also a large range of vehicles on offer including motorbikes and trucks. The game includes several of the main characters from the movie, each of which has their own strengths. Hilts 'the Cooler King' (played by Steve McQueen) can pick locks, MacDonald 'intelligence' can speak German, Hendley 'the scrounger' can pick pockets, and so on.

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The camp from above.
The developers are also putting much effort into the enemies trying to keep you imprisoned. Specialist enemy units types include 'Ferrets' who are specialist anti-escape officers who search for suspicious behaviour and 'Goons' who are the guards charged with security in the camp. One of the key elements of this game is getting other prisoners to create distractions while you escape.
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Inside the camp walls.
Be it starting a fight or doing something out of the ordinary turning the guards attention away from your activities could be vital to your success. Then again you can also incapacitate guards and drag them into the shadows to avoid attention.

Developed by Pivotal Games, who were the team behind the moderately successful Conflict: Desert Storm, this game, with a world famous license, should do much better. It will be interesting to compare the results of this title with Prisoner of War which was released in mid 2002 to some success. Expect a release for The Great Escape in mid 2003.