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Previews

White Gold

Preview: Boiling Point devs go the Caribbean

While it was largely for the wrong reasons, Boiling Point: Road to Hell was a memorable game to play.

A clunky engine, hovering leopards with two frames of animation moving at the speed of sound... the game had a level of brokenness that genuinely made its innumerable flaws charming rather than infuriating.

Patched up, it's now more than worth a play, but on release it made a dimple on the gaming landscape when it should have made a crater.

Now the crazy Ukrainians who created its open-world oddness are back with two offerings, and they reckon they've nailed it this time.

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"Even right now we can say that White Gold and Precursors look and play better than Boiling Point when it was shipped," explains Sergey Zabaryansky, Deep Shadows' director.

"We consider free-form gameplay to be the genre of the future. Recently linear shooters have become boring and samey. A lot of developers are trying to surprise players with amazing graphics or great effects, but not necessarily with new ideas or unique gameplay."

Beyond Boiling

Boiling Point itself was heavily researched and set within real-world Columbia and its troubled drug-tinged politics, but the country was renamed Realia for the American and European release - with a fair amount of near-the-knuckle elements replaced with slightly safer placeholders.

This time round, with White Gold, we're in a similarly vague area - but certainly within a real-world setting: a part of the Caribbean which is packed with tanks, helicopter gunships and crystal-clear waters into which hopeful NPCs will dangle their fishing rods before getting back to their daily AI routine.

With White Gold's play area consisting of six large islands and 50 smaller ones dotted about them, you might think that you've seen similar free-roaming fare with games like Just Cause.

What sets White Gold apart though, is its grounding in roleplay. You may well be able to drive tanks and nip around on quad bikes, but this Caribbean jet setting will be complemented by an inventory system straight out of Deus Ex and a full set of roleplay perks and experience.

Whereas Boiling Point had a tendency to bury its stats, this time everything is simplified and upfront, with three upgrade slots for a myriad of different abilities - whether it's to do with chatting to the locals, skinning wildlife, better sniping or the sudden knowledge of how to throw a jar of jam into an enemy's face and watch him get covered by jungle-sized insects.

The plot sees you getting to the root of a new variety of drug that proves fatal after a couple of uses that European kids are crazy about.

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This doesn't mean that there isn't space for arsing around in the tropics for an extended period of time though - you can even find an architect, get him to build you a house and pay him afterwards through Animal Crossing-style instalments.

Once you've filled him up with your hard-earned cash you'll then be in a position to demand your own little pier for boats and a chopper landing pad.

Jungle Fights

In all honesty, the combat and environmental destruction within White Gold is unlikely to match the likes of Crysis - but the charm of Deep Shadows' fare is more in their love of dropping you in at the deep end and having you working out just how far you can push the invisible boundaries of its make-it-up-as-you-go gameplay.

As with Boiling Point, there are many factions jostling for position within the playing area - and most NPCs will be allied to them, even if they're not machine-gunning each other.

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