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Which game are you looking forward to the most?

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Super Mario Maker
Halo 5: Guardians
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Star Wars: Battlefront

Game Profile
PlayStation 2
3DO Company, The
3DO Company, The
GENRE: Adventure
September 10, 2001
Army Men RTS

Army Men RTS

Army Men: Operation Green

Army Men Advance

Army Men: Sarge's Heroes

More in this Series
 Written by John Scalzo  on October 17, 2001

Full Review: Sing along with the Flock of Seagulls: "I ran so far away!"

Portal Runner is a good idea for a game. In fact, Portal Runner is actually a great idea for a game, however it's stuck in a strange world and the only way out is to find the portals that will take you home. Apparently though it's very easy to take even the best idea and ruin it with a something of a sorry game.

Portal Runner manages to tie its story into 3DO's other masterpiece, Army Men. You are Vicki, star reporter, girlfriend to Sarge the commander of the Green Army. Bridgette Bleu wants Sarge all to herself, so she tricks Vicki into a portal, making sure she can never return home again. With pet lion Leo in tow, Vicki now has to find the portals to get back to her Green, hard plasticky man.

Like I said, this is a good idea gone sour where a heap of mistakes that truly make this game little fun to play. The biggest one being that the control is more than dreadful. Here we have the most advanced game controller ever created (for the next month at least anyway) and trying to get Vicki to walk to the right or the left is proves impossible. Even keeping her walking in a straight line; not gonna happen. What makes matters even worse is that a good portion of game involves jumping puzzles. When you can't solve a game's puzzle because the controls are too difficult to master, you got problems. More than once you'll fall to your death because the controls failed in making a jump and the terrible camera angles don't help matter either when pulling off your high rise-jumping act. All around a bad combo for a 3D game as such.

Moving on, there are a few more things that will start giving you a nervous twitch after playing this game, like its tremendously poor hit detection. There a few enemies in this game you must dispose on your way to your happy reunion with Sarge, including Rock monsters, raptors, dark knights, which all must be dispatched on your travels. Each of them requires you to shoot them with your big arrows more than once. The problem is that if you shoot one of these guys three times, only one of those hits will count, so you've wasted a bunch of arrows and now the enemy is enraged all due to the sad hit detection. If one of those raptors even gets close to you, you're hit and I call a no fair!

Rounding out my series of complaints is the fact that everything can look exactly. In your portal run, you'll go through five different worlds each containing a bunch of levels. The jungle you're in looks just like the jungle you just came from, which looks just like the jungle you'll get to next. It just goes on like this until you reach the end of the world. Sure it's not always a jungle (eventually it'll be caves and forests and other places) and I realize 3DO probably wanted the worlds to look uniform. Nevertheless a little variety would have been nice. Brace yourself now, because I'm going to be praising Portal Runner, because the graphics (even though they all look alike) are quite nice at times. In the very beginning of the game you're running through a lightning filled chessboard, I mean how cool is that. It looks great with your reflection on the board and the big pieces and the lightning. Then there's this big hill that the game goes right down it after that.

Enough with the gloom and doom for a minute because Portal Runner is not all bad. The music is, well there isn't a whole lot of music to begin with. So I guess I can't really complain when the game is fairly musicless. What we do get though is a standard set of sound effects (growling, explosions, and arrows hitting wood) and Vicki's running (heh) commentary through the game. In one of the few nice touches, Vicki talks to herself the whole game giving you, the player, hints on where to go next. Its very cool and even makes sense that when you're by yourself you'd talk to yourself like that. The woman supplying her voice is even a good actress, what are video games coming to? They're hiring good voice actors now! Also, the game features full motion video between levels is actually pretty nice and a two-player VS mode that happens to be so tacked on that I'm just tacking a mention of it onto my review. Oh, the stinging irony.

Bottom Line
No lie, Portal Runner didn't turn out that good and even though it's a great idea, so was communism at first. That didn't turn out good either. Sure Portal Runner gets a little better the further you get into the game, but think again how good it start out.

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