No, it's not another DOOM III expansion pack. Despite its name, Boiling Point: Road to Hell has absolutely nothing to do with hell, and after playing the game for quite a while you'll actually notice that this subtitle is rather useless. Bad subtitle or not, Boiling Point is in fact the long-awaited action/RPG title from developer Deep Shadows. Formerly known as Xenus, Boiling Point began production around 2001 and has certainly evolved a lot since. Deep Shadows' main goal was to create a huge sprawling environment with no load times whatsoever and plenty of areas to explore. It looks as if they have achieved their goal, albeit with a little incentive from some other franchises. While playing Boiling Point, it sometimes feels a lot like other titles that have entered this area of gameplay before, such as the Deus Ex series, the Grand Theft Auto series and even a few takes from Far Cry . The problem is that Boiling Point: Road to Hell attempts to take the features of such titles and combine them all into one great action/RPG, but unfortunately it doesn't turn out as well as they hoped.
Boiling Point has the same type of cliché storyline that you can find in many action games, where the main character is ex-military and is looking for revenge. In this case, Saul Meyers is a decorated legionnaire searching for his daughter. His daughter, a reporter working on assignment, was last seen in a remote area in South America. Who cares about calling the police for help? Saul Myers wants to handle this on his own. A true vigilante, he's like Rambo as he reaches his "boiling point" of anger. Whether he's tough or not, Saul Myers has a long road ahead of him to finding his daughter, all whilst being surrounded by a hellish atmosphere, corrupt individuals and wars. Ok, so maybe that subtitle is starting to make more sense, but honestly it wasn't exactly necessary.
We'll start with the good points before listing the problems with this title, because there are many good points about this game. Boiling Point: Road to Hell contains so many different features and free-roaming abilities it'll make your head spin. There's just so much going on at once that you don't know what to do first. With so many things to do, the replay value is definitely high here. It can last an easy 40 hours of gameplay going straight through thanks to the many missions, submissions, factions to join, items and weapons to buy and sell, areas to explore and more. Of course, once you're finally done there are plenty of reasons to go back in and try it again.
The first thing that's quickly noticeable upon entering the game is the huge environment. Right away your thrown into a small South American town with the ability to go anywhere and do whatever you want. It all sounds good, and in reality it all performs very well. Boiling Point thrives on the free-roaming aspect, and it's certainly the best part of the whole game. The map itself spans across roughly 240sq. miles. Surprisingly there are no loading points at all throughout this huge area.
The whole environment is teeming with life. Not only are there dynamic weather effects and real night/daytime cycles, but you'll see pedestrians walking the streets, different cars belonging to different factions driving around, different factions having small gun battles on the outskirts of town, and plenty of wildlife in the dense and dangerous forests. The map is covered mainly by huge forests that go on and on. Besides the main town (where you start), there are other small villages or faction-owned bases located deep in the forests where only dirt roads can reach them from the main paths. The only way to get out of the main town is by heading through a government checkpoint where they check your papers. Failing to cooperate could put you on the government's crap list.
Another important aspect of Boiling Point: Road to Hell is interaction. Interactions between other individuals and yourself play a very important role here and bring out the role-playing side of the game. You can talk to any person you see, and doing so brings up a small text tree from which you can choose to ask questions or reply with different answers. Just like in any traditional RPG fashion this is also how you obtain new missions which drive the story on.
Thankfully you do have a mission log that lists all of your accepted missions, and your current missions show up on your map for better guidance. Missions can be obtained from many different characters so it's vital to talk to just about everyone. The great thing here is that you never have to do the primary mission of finding your daughter. Right from the start you can simply go your own way and do whatever side mission you desire. The map is completely unlocked from the start, so it's not like there are any missions that will unlock it for you. Most of the missions are somewhat varied and usually include you either blackmailing or killing someone. Due to the game's open-endedness, you can accomplish this however you want. For example, when infiltrating an enemy base you can either knock down the front door or find a secret side entrance for a quieter approach.
The only real thing you get from the missions is money (or as known here: Pesos). You always want to have a lot of Pesos as they can buy you many new things including a car (or you can steal one), you need gas for your car, repairs, change the tire, new weapons, drugs, medicine, hospital visits after being shot, driving lessons, to obtain more information out of someone, or even to get drunk at the local Pub amongst other things.
Boiling Point: Road to Hell includes many different vehicles to get you around the huge map and to your missions. After all, it's not very fun to walk across this whole map as it could take at least an hour. The list of vehicles includes numerous trucks and cars, boats, planes, helicopters, tanks, and other armored vehicles. You can obtain vehicles either by stealing them or buying them at the local car dealer who charges an arm and a leg. Each type of vehicle requires a specific license in order to drive it. So if you want to drive boats you first have to visit the trainer, pay a fee, and then go through a lame crash course on boating in order to get your license. Unfortunately, the whole license system feels unnecessary, time consuming, and a waste of your valuable Pesos.
Thanks to an easy-to-use inventory system you can keep track of Mr. Meyers' items and weapons. He can carry a number of different valuables, all of which take up room in his backpack, making it heavier and slowing his movements down when it gets too full. There are a huge assortment of weapons for getting the job done just the way you want including shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, crossbows, grenades, pistols and even bazookas if you like to see the big fireworks. Any weapon can be obtained from dead bodies, bought, sold, or traded at the local weapons dealer. You can also buy different types of ammunition for each. Some items are available either all the time, others only for specific missions. Such items can include a directional microphone for listening in on conversations from afar, binoculars, a cell phone (to listen to your nagging wife), a camera, a handy wristwatch and even a jar of jam to get the local wildlife off your back. You can also carry different drinks since Saul does need to drink, and he also needs to sleep once in a while at the local motel. The motel can cost up to 50 Pesos a night, but when you choose to sleep there you don't actually get your own room to walk into. Instead the screen just goes black for about a second and then comes back with you all refreshed. It seems like the easy way out on the developer's part, but supposedly you can actually build your own house for 50,000 Pesos from the local architect.
The last useful bit of information that really adds to the gameplay is the faction system. There are seven different factions that will either love you, hate you, or be neutral towards you depending on your actions. These seven different factions include the government, guerrillas, mafia, bandits, Indians, CIA, and civilians. Each faction has their own specific vehicles that they drive, so avoiding the hostile ones isn't normally too difficult. Depending upon which missions you plan to partake in, and who you plan to randomly shoot on the street for fun, your standing with each faction will drastically change. Obviously being friends with the CIA and the government isn't going to sit to well with the mafia and bandits, especially when you are eliminating the mafia leaders. Each faction does have their own missions that you can choose, so you can easily join up with a different one providing for much replay value. You can also see them having small battles on jungle roads.
So there you have it. We've listed, in detail, the many great points about this title. Frankly there sure are a lot of them, and when you list the good attributes of Boiling Point: Road to Hell you get the makings of one of the best games ever conceived. However, the bad side of Boiling Point completely outweighs the good points by making the game a terrible mess to play. There are bugs, bugs, and more bugs. So many, in fact, that we can't list them all here. For example, when parking your car on the road, other traffic and pedestrians will simply run right into it - they don't even attempt to go around or stop. It's even worse for pedestrians, because when you start up your car they automatically get crushed by your vehicle. Furthermore the first person shooter aspect of the game is very sloppy and poorly done. The controls feel stiff and there seems to be no actual hit detection system on your enemies. The vehicles handle just as badly, with stiff controls and a lack of any type of physics.
As far as combat goes, the enemy AI is completely brainless. Most of the time they'll just stand there while you shoot them with blank stares on their faces. Occasionally they may attempt to roll out of the way of your stream of bullets, but they will hardly ever take cover and reload right in your line of sight. Normally, they'll take a large amount of bullets to kill, but headshots fortunately get them every time. Some enemies will just sit there as you kill their comrades right in front of them.
More problems can be found within the game's slow performance even on faster machines. Boiling Point is definitely a resource hog as it will easily eat away at 1GB of RAM. It's mainly due to bad coding, and the graphics look poor even when turned on the highest settings. The textures and character models are uninspired and very bland, and the only thing that somewhat masks the visual mess is a slight glow effect that's emulated during the daytime. It's surprising to see the game run so slowly since the graphics aren't exactly something to get excited about. You could argue that the game world is huge which can have a large impact on the performance, but we have seen plenty of previous games with very large environments, better graphics, and better performance. Far Cry certainly comes to mind in that case.
The problems continue into the sound department. Some sounds constantly fade in and out, and some character voiceovers do not work at all. This is a little odd, because every character in the game should have their own voiceover. When the voiceovers do work they sound pretty good, but can be a little annoying at times. The game's sounds are even more disappointing when it comes to the guns and vehicles. Both areas of the game sound dull and flat. The main problem here though is how the sound can fade-in and out, effectively adjusting the volume of the person speaking to the point where you need to turn your speakers up much louder to hear them. Then when you jump into your car the car's sound is much louder, and you'll have to turn your speakers down again.
Boiling Point: Road to Hell could keep you entertained for a few hours, but that is only before you give up due to the game's many annoyances. It has a lot of great features and its free-roaming environment is always welcome, but its story just isn't enough to keep one going long, and the many bugs outweigh any of the good aspects. It's really tough to recommend this title especially with so many other great games out there that have the same features and do it much better. Perhaps if Deep Shadows was given more time, and a slightly larger budget, they could have made a truly great action/RPG. It may be worth playing for a short while if you're desperate for a new free-roaming game. However, keep in mind that the new Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is just over the horizon. Unfortunately, with what Boiling Point: Road to Hell presents to us, it seems as if it may be destined for the bargain bin very soon.