Prison Break: The Conspiracy Review

It’s tricky navigation when developers and publishers decide to take on a game based upon a primetime television series. The path normally leads to mediocrity and possibly worse, as games like 24: The Game, Lost: Via Domus, and Sopranos: Road to Respect all arrived on the scene as average to sub-par spinoffs. Zootfly and Deep Silver decided to take their shot at the touchy subject matter, however, with Prison Break: The Conspiracy. And while some fans of the show may like the cameos and coincidental side stories created by the videogame spinoff, there are plenty of graphical, gameplay, and design issues to keep this crossover from being objectively good.

The story puts you in the shoes of Tom Paxton, an agent for the show’s mysterious Company, who is sent into Fox River State Penitentiary at the same time as TV series main protagonist Michael Scofield. Paxton’s objective is to make sure that Scofield’s brother, Lincoln Burrows, is executed on schedule. The plot bobs and weaves its way around the events of the show’s first season, but never truly meshes in. All it really does is allow players to see the events and characters of season one through someone else’s perspective as they sneak around the prison to complete objectives. The campaign will take around five to six hours to complete, taking time to do optional things on the side like obtaining tattoos and taking part in underground fights. Anyone who is a fan of the show won’t really miss out by choosing to pass on the game, but it is a interesting addition to the series’ canon.

Yet another mediocre, if not just bad, crossover for TV.

When it comes to how the game actually plays it has its hits and misses, but mostly just misses. Stealth is the key when trying to complete objectives, but avoiding detection is not as easy or straightforward as it may sound. Some NPCs will take routes faster than you can react, and when an enemy hears your footsteps it is nearly impossible to find safe cover unless it is right next to you. This adds up to frustrating sessions, retrying certain parts of the game over and over again.

One nice thing included in the game’s stealth mechanics is the ability to tip security cameras up to avoid being spotted. However, I found myself wondering why the guards watching the video feeds wouldn’t find it odd that all the cameras in one area of the penitentiary were facing the ceiling. It would have been a nice addition if after so many cameras were tilted, a guard would be alerted to investigate the area. This would have allowed the game to maintain a better sense of realism.

Another factor diminishing the sense of immersion is the use of the color yellow over every object that can be used for platforming or pointing out where you need to go. While it is nice to have those reminders, games in this day and age have evolved to a point where these helpful hints act more as a deterrent to immersion. It would have possibly been more realistic if the color wasn’t as bold, or if highlighted outlines were given to the objects instead, via a hint button.

Prison Break also features some frustrating quick time events. These QTEs are present during several cutscenes, and the frequency with which they occur, one after another, gets irritating fast. You will be mashing one button like mad, when a split-second later the game will expect you to press another button once to keep the scene going. I lost count of how many times I failed a scene because of this problem. One can tell when to stop since a chime will go off after every successive QTE, but you will have to pay extremely close attention as the chime is faint and even then you will have little to no time to stop mashing.

Prison Break: The Conspiracy

The best part of the gameplay is Prison Break‘s fighting sequences. The simple punch, hard punch, and block system is quite enjoyable. Hitting the block button in time creates the opportunity for reversals, players can kick an opponent when he is down, and finishing moves are executed by a command button when an enemy is pretty much done for. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a large part of the single-player campaign, and the underground fights mini-game that really shows off the fighting isn’t available until right before the final chapters.

One of the downsides to the fighting system is that once you reach the underground fights, you already have the ability to maximize your strength by hitting a punching bag or lifting weights in the prison yard. By this point, you can beat up practically every enemy in less than 30 seconds. This takes the challenge right out of the experience.

The game’s graphics are about average for the current console generation. The visuals certainly won’t stun you, and the facial animations are downright atrocious. Dialogue sequences will consist of still faces flapping their lips with the occasional blink or shifting of the eyes. The lip movements will also commonly fail to sync up with the words being spoken. Overall they are just a pain to watch. Audio, on the other hand, isn’t a problem with Prison Break. Music from the television series is played frequently, and the voice acting features the actors from the show. The voice work won’t amaze you, but it won’t leave you upset or disappointed either.

It isn’t easy to take on a videogame spinoff of a primetime TV series, and Prison Break: The Conspiracy is another example of why. Mediocre graphics, plenty of problems in its gameplay, a lack of realism, and only a semi-interesting side story all make this yet another failed experiment at the TV-game crossover. Fans of the series who would like to revisit Fox River and see the first season through another perspective may want to rent this title, but anyone else would be wise to leave it be.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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