PAKO Review – PC
PAKO labels itself a ‘car chase simulator’. That conjures up some pretty vivid images in my mind, mostly of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit style races through mountains and cities in a sports car with police hot on my tail. PAKO goes in a different route. Instead, it replicates the type of car chases you might have seen on TV in the 90’s, blurry, hard to follow, and from the point of view of a helicopter.
To justify the setting, the game makes it clear that each level is in fact a VHS being watched by the player. It’s a simple setup, but it works well, and does separate the game from a lot of its contemporaries. The core attraction of the title is the ‘Survival’ mode. This is exactly as it sounds. The player picks a car they have unlocked, (more can be unlocked through completing various goals), then picks a level, and goes on the run.
The stages are setup like giant squares, with it being possible to reach the boundaries of each area in less than a minute. This is good for an isometric style game like this, there is no reason to have levels so big that you can’t figure out where you are going. There are various locations, such as a car park, a cemetery and even Finland. They are generally well detailed and interesting, but there is nothing particularly memorable here. After picking your car, you are dropped straight into the action. The objective is simple, survive as long as you can without crashing or getting caught by the cops. Crashing is the biggest concern, as the isometric view means it is hard to tell where you are going, and simply bumping into a building or solid object will cause your car to explode into flames. It means that an average game will last about 30 seconds, encouraging lots of repeated attempts per level.
In addition to sliding around the roads, there are various power ups dotted around each stage. These consist of a myriad of things, such as causing your car to shrink, causing it to freeze, various machine guns and missile launchers, warping across the stage, giant mode, a swinging wrecking ball attached to the trunk, and more. Whilst these add a nice layer of nonsense, they are actually usually more of a burden. The risk of getting a bad power up that can get you killed is too great, and the ones that come into useful are in short supply. Most of the guns fire forward, which is a problem when you are being chased from police behind you. You are unlikely to ever die by being caught anyway, 90% of the time it is crashing into something, so the smarter option is just to focus on the road, swerving around the level and avoiding the police. It’s just, that doesn’t make it very fun.
Later stages mix things up a bit, with Zombies and other various attractions spicing things up. The problem is that really it is a mobile game, its fun for a bit to mess around with, but there are much better experiences on the PC. At £4 it’s priced appropriately, and would be fun for a side distraction. The game is quite difficult – but not unfair. PAKO won’t break any boundaries, but what it does offer is a generally fun, if limited, experience.