Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Ubisoft, for PlayStation Portable
rated E for Everyone (cartoon vio­lence), $39.99.

When you’re trapped in a burning building, when an earthquake buries you underground, when disaster strikes, who can you call on?

Why, Mr. Esc, of course!

At least you can in "Exit," a new PSP game from Ubisoft that should delight puzzle fans everywhere, as well as PSP owners desperate for an A-list title to play.

In the game, you play as Mr. Esc, a debonair escape artist who makes his living rescuing folks from natural disasters.

On each level, your "companions" (i.e. folks that need saving) are scattered about on a multitiered and hazardous area. Your job is to locate them and get them out of the area before time runs out.

Compared to his companions, Mr. Esc has a good deal of agility to help him get around. He can climb steep areas, jump large chasms and use objects such as ladders, picks and small boxes.

He can also boss around his fellow companions, once he finds them. This comes in handy, as Esc will frequently need help to open a series of doors, remove rocks or move a safe.

There are different types of companions as well, and each one has an unusual set of abilities and weaknesses. Kids, for example, need to be helped up and down high places, but can crawl through small areas. Adults, meanwhile, can help push heavy objects.

The game boasts a simple premise, but the puzzles are complicated and require a good deal of thought. You’ll frequently find yourself getting stuck and having to restart a mission in order to suss out how to get from A to B.

A good part of the game’s appeal is its unique look. Esc and his friends are animated as black and white silhouettes against a colorful, cartoonish background. It’s nice when a game sports an art design different from more mainstream titles.

The only thing that keeps "Exit" from attaining true greatness is the slightly wonky controls. Mr. Esc moves a bit slow, and watching him climb down ladders or ropes while the clock ticks down might prove frustrating for some gamers.

More significantly, however, is the fact that there seems to be a slight delay between when you press a button and when Mr. Esc makes his move. This isn’t too much of a problem except when trying to jump long distances. Far too often, I had to restart a mission from scratch merely because I mistimed a jump that I otherwise should have made without a problem.

Don’t let that caveat keep you from trying out what is otherwise a superior title, however.

"Exit" is a challenging and fun brainteaser that is sorely needed to shore up PSP’s otherwise lackluster game roster. It might be too eclectic a title for some gamers, but puzzle fans should have a field day with it.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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