So it turns out that Deep Shadows were in on the joke all along. Their first game, the FPS RPG Boiling Point, was released in a shockingly unfinished state with bugs that made panthers fly, crossbow bolts destroy police stations and gave grannies grenades. It turns out it was actually supposed to put a smile on your face anyway. Underneath all the hilarious bugs, it was a silly, tropical action thriller.
The sequel, White Gold, follows Boiling Point's structure of enabling the player to go anywhere they choose and follow whatever missions they want. This time you're a mercenary, still played by actor Arnold Vosloo, in a South American paradise. Three large and six smallish islands hide a secret drug production factory - you're there to hunt it down and destroy it. Brilliantly, the reasoning behind this is because its potency is killing celebrities.
And you can drive sharks by grabbing their fins.
It's a close cousin to games such as Just Cause and Far Cry, but with a far more detailed RPG system tacked on. From the beginning there are factions to either appease or antagonise, including the military, mafia, police and civilians, and skills to level up.
It's quite similar to Boiling Point and dipping into the inventory shows that Deep Shadows are simply broadening the scope, including things such as addiction to the FPS staple of painkillers, as well as alcohol (which has the expected effect: overdose on the 70% proof and the character sways and stumbles around). They're also adding a reward system - perks - so on top of levelling up your gun aim and running speed, you'll get, for example, 25% at animal skinning.
For the time being, I haven't been told how it all affects the game or story: Boiling Point's freeform nature meant it was a game of sundry delights, and while White Gold has 60 main missions, there are an additional 250 to just grab on the go.
There are a number of 'usuals' for this type of game that White Gold happily revels in: all vehicles can be used, from bikes to choppers; NPCs have goals for their day, whether it's a job or an activity such as fishing, so they'll all busy themselves; and with 140 square miles to explore, there are a myriad of hidden places to go, including underwater caves and shipwrecks to dip into.
But Deep Shadows say they're somewhat bored of the 'usuals', and as such are implementing a mystery that, if you choose to follow it (and you can completely ignore it) adds a touch of spice to the proceedings. I'm introduced to the mystery by a man who's just run off the road because he splatted into a giant spider.
Sure enough, sandwiched in between the crumpled car and the roadside barrier is a hideous, huge spider (I'm hoping it's some sort of metajoke aimed at the number and size of bugs that were in Boiling Point). That, and the shark driving is part of a wider mystery involving the local fauna. What's the mystery? I honestly don't know. That's why it's a called a mystery, people.
White Gold is looking surprisingly slick so far. The engine is pretty, there's clearly a 40-hour chunk of game in there and Deep Shadows promise that all the bugs will be squashed before release. Although I'm hoping they leave one or two in, just for old time's sake.