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Have You Played... The Great Escape?

"It's so stupid, it's positively brilliant"

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The Great Escape is neither a great game nor a great adaptation of the film of the same name, but it is at least an interesting adaptation.

Being a fan of the England national football team is tough. From the boardroom to the pitch, disappointment is a constant companion. Too-easy qualification campaigns inflate expectations, even when we know they shouldn't, and then the team travel to a tournament and the wheels come off in underwhelming fashion. It doesn't even end with a bang; just whimpers and the occasional thunderclap.

And then there's the brass band, parping out The Great Escape theme. It's enough to make me hate a film I've been fortunate enough to avoid overwatching during its millions of appearances on UK television over the decades.

I don't remember any hype around the game adaptation before release in 2003 but I ended up with a copy for reasons I can't recall. Perhaps I just wanted a stealth game. And it wasn't a bad stealth game, though the missions were all a little too fragmented, if memory serves. I'd rather play something a little sillier like The Escapists now, or switch sides and build jails in Prison Architect.

It reminds me of The Warriors, a game that took the basic concept of a film and recognised precisely what genre it was and how to adapt it. In that case, The Warriors became a modern Streets of Rage with extra bells and whistles. The Great Escape is half-way to doing something similar – a game about plotting and executing an escape, like a heist in reverse, makes a lot of sense. The plan doesn't quite come together, but the adaptation is more daring than most.

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About the Author

Adam Smith

Former Deputy Editor

Adam wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2011-2018, rising through the ranks to become its Deputy Editor. He now works at Larian Studios on Baldur's Gate 3.