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Escape from Alcatraz

Preview - EuroGamer slips over the wire and into the darkness to bring you a peek at this unusual jailbreak game

Hungarian developer Philos Labs got off to a good start with their debut game Theocracy, an interesting blend of real-time and turn-based strategy set in Aztec Mexico. Now they're back with Escape From Alcatraz, a novel 3D prison escape game. We traded in our Get Out Of Jail Free card to find out more...

Slavery Is Freedom

Set in an alternative reality where steam-powered machinery and Victorian-style engineering still dominates, Alcatraz puts you in the role of a rebel leader fighting against an Orwellian dictatorship which has thrown you into prison.

Your first task then is to escape from jail, but once you have got yourself out you will have to help the rest of your group of five specialists to escape from a series of wildly differing prisons and internment camps around the country. To add some variety, you will also be called on to carry out sabotage missions against the government between jail breaks, before finally gathering your five man team to take on the ultimate challenge - breaking your boss out of Alcatraz.

Each prison has its own unique design, with multiple escape routes for you to attempt, and the game is also promising to offer several possible solutions to every problem you face. Using the various talents and special abilities of your team will give you a range of options for breaking out, from brute force to distraction and stealth. So if one approach doesn't work, you can always go back to the drawing board and try something completely different the next time.

Son et Lumière

The game's visual style is highly atmospheric, falling somewhere between Jules Verne and City of Lost Children with its industrial buildings, lavish ironwork and steampunk technology. The prisons and their surroundings are living, breathing worlds in miniature, with steam cars, trams and overhead monorails scooting past while guards patrol the walls between you and the outside world.

The whole thing is brought to life with a new 3D engine developed in-house at Philos, with support for all of the usual buzzwords from dynamic lighting and bump-mapping to motion-captured animations. A full spinny-rotatey™ camera will allow you to view the highly detailed 3D world from any angle as you plot your next escape attempt, while interiors are revealed by cutting away the roofs and floors above.

The game also includes a range of lighting and weather conditions, allowing you to creep out under cover of darkness, hide in the fog, or break out in the midst of a storm. Sound is equally important, as careless noise can alert guards to your presence, while a fully dynamic soundtrack should add to the atmosphere as you sneak through the shadows.

It's all looking very promising at this stage, and with the game currently aiming for an October release we should know soon whether it can live up that potential...

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Alcatraz screenshots

Philos Labs interview (April 2001)

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