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Taken on its own Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle (DotT) is a fine adventure game. It suffers from the usual adventure game shortcomings that the genre is renowned for, and as such we can't really hold this against it. However, four years before DotT was released the original Runaway game had hit the PC market and garnered a sort of cult following amongst the already cultish adventure gaming community. Runaway: A Road Adventure exhibited the same classic adventure game irritations, and these irritations were discussed at length in game reviews and amongst the fans themselves. Pixel hunting was rampant (that is, the difficulty in seeing which parts of the backdrop can be interacted with, thus making it necessary to hunt for active pixels in every inch of the screen), the voice acting sounded as if the actors didn't speak English and were instead reading their lines phonetically in American accents, many of the solutions to the game's puzzles were so laterally minded that even reading walkthroughs online didn't afford them any more clarity and the dialogue was strained and sounded lazily translated from the native Spanish of its writers. These drawbacks were all highlighted by every reviewer and by every fan who contacted the team on their forums, and despite having four years between titles to rethink their original approach they have instead opted to give us more of the same.
The game's main improvement over the original is its graphics; they're much more vibrant and detailed, but mind-meltingly difficult puzzles and mediocre dialogue/acting isn't helped much by this.
~ [ Storyline ] ~
The story picks up where the original left off. Gina and Brian are on a Hawaiian holiday, having become a couple in the first game. Gina disappears after falling from a plane during a skydiving session and Brian spends the next portion of the game trying to find her. He encounters a military base in which he believes Gina is being held, and begins to realise that there's something sinister afoot.
Many of the characters from the first game return for the sequel, and there are many new locations to be explored, including Hawaii, a giant ship, excavation sites, a snow village and a surfer commune. Many new characters are introduced, too. The peripheral characters in the game are often the main source of the somewhat dark comedy which is characteristic of Runaway.
The storyline in the Runaway series has always gone over my head, and Runaway 2 doesn't do much to fix that. The series is currently in its third episode, and many of the questions raised in DotT are dealt with in the third game, but I still haven't got a clue what's going on in general. This has been the primary criticism DotT has received; its confusing and disjointed storytelling technique leaves gamers scratching their heads.
~ [ Gameplay ] ~
DotT furnishes gamers with a classic point 'n' click adventure game, staying true to the core ingredients we've come to expect from the format. The object of the game is to pick up items, use/combined items, talk to NPCs and give/retrieve items/information to/from them in an effort to solve puzzles and progress through the game. All of this is done using just the mouse and its two buttons.
The discussions with NPCs in the Runaway series is often long, drawn-out and mind-numbingly boring. Skipping the dialogue is possible, but most of it contains information you need to progress and so listening to it is essential. Even if you know what you have to do next - for instance, if you're replaying the game and know what the solution to some particular puzzle is - you'll still have to talk about everything with everyone in order to "unlock" the possibility of solving the puzzle at hand.
Overall Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle plays and feels like an oldschool adventure game, and can stand proudly amongst its ilk.
~ [ Graphics/Performance ] ~
As mentioned, the graphics are the only thing which sets this game apart from its predecessor. They're much more visually pleasing than those of Runaway: A Road Adventure, even though the same rendering techniques are used, i.e. modelling everything in 3D, animating it and then rendering the resultant animations in 2D. The background graphics are once again drawn by hand, and they're as detailed and as pretty as ever.
Installing the game on a computer with Windows Vista or later as its operating system might present a problem for you. Even more problematic is using the x64 version of these operating systems. In order to get the game to run on my Windows Vista x64 system (and later, my Windows 7 x64 system) I had to manually install updated TAGES drivers (TAGES is the anti-piracy software the game uses), apply the official game patches, play the game until about half-way at which point it starts crashing, uninstall the official game patch leaving the original game in tact and then continuing from there. The technical support on the official forum is non-existent, and I was given these tips by another irate member who was having similar issues. If you're using Windows XP x86 (or earlier) you won't have a problem.
The minimum system requirements are as follows:
[Operating System]: Windows 98 or later
[CPU]: Intel Pentium IV 1.6GHz or equivalent/better
[Graphics Card]: 32MB of on-board RAM, compatible with DirectX 9.0
[RAM]: 128MB (256MB for Windows 2000 or later)
[Hard Drive Space]: 7GB
The minimum resolution the game can be displayed in is 1024x768, so make sure your graphics card and monitor are capable of this (unless you're using an ancient piece of machinery you'll be fine).
~ [ Conclusion ] ~
Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle is a solid adventure game, with plenty of puzzles and reasonable longevity. The technical problems involved in getting the game to run, coupled with the reintroduction of common adventure game developmental oversights which were rampant in the first game, won't be winning the game any awards any time soon. The game offers only one significant improvement over the first game in the series, and that is its updated graphics. If you're not expecting anything groundbreaking, and if you enjoyed the first game in the series, you'll get a kick out of Runaway 2.
The game is going for less than 3 quid on Amazon.co.uk at the moment, and for that price there's very little to complain about.