In Prisoner of War, you play as Captain Lewis Stone. While fighting overseas, Lewis’ plane is shot down. Both him and his friend are captured and held prisoner at a German base. "War" and "peace" don’t belong in the same sentence together in this game, because from here on out, Mr. Stone is forced to live a harder life than the Stone Temple Pilots lived after their last CD failed to make a mark on the Billboard charts.
The game begins with no weapons, no attack buttons and no way of defending yourself against German guards. The game’s clock (not real-world time: it follows its own in-game cycle) is constantly ticking, and the guards insist that you are at specific locations at specific times. If you wander too far out in the base during the early morning hours, you’ll be punished, and will have to start the mission over again.
Before long, Lewis gets sick and tired of this crap and realizes that if he doesn’t do something fast, his life will be over. No one can live the life of a prisoner forever, least of all him. Lewis becomes determined to break out, even if it kills him! He’d rather die trying than die rotting in that awful place.
But he can’t do it alone. For starters, Lewis chats with the other prisoners to see how feasible a breakout is. From the looks of things, it appears to be impossible, but it doesn’t matter to him. After persistently asking around, Lewis eventually finds some clues that could help lead to his escape. Some prisoners want currency (cigarettes and the like) in exchange for more information on how to break out.
This is where the game really begins. Now you have a mission -- to escape -- and objectives: find currency, distract guards, avoid getting killed, etc.
Ignore the game’s slow start and prepare for the long haul. Prisoner of War gets better and better as it goes along. At first, your objectives may seem a little basic, but just wait until the game really heats up. Even the frustrating parts are addictive and intriguing because you just can’t, no matter what happens, let your character die. You want to see this through to the end and watch Lewis make it out alive. Will there be a happy ending to the story? Who knows, but either way, you’ll want to find out, and that’s one of the things that will keep you playing.
Prisoner of War’s graphics are nowhere near the caliber of other Xbox titles. Still, POW is not an ugly game. The real-time lighting is pretty good, some of the backgrounds/buildings have nice textures, and the framerate never seemed to drop. Granted, this is a slower-paced game, but it’s still nice to see the game run smoothly.
Prisoner of War’s fun comes from its unique gameplay. No other spy game plays quite like Prisoner of War. There are similarities -- the wall-leaning technique that Lewis uses was first introduced to the world in Metal Gear Solid. But the core gameplay and the main goal of the game is completely different. In an action shooting game, it sucks when you don’t have a weapon to use. But here, you never miss it. To be perfectly honest, I’d much rather play a game like this, where there are no weapons, then play a mindless shooter where you just kill, kill and kill some more. Weapons? Who needs ’em! All Lewis needs is his brain to get him through this dangerous scenario.
Codemasters calls Prisoner of War a "new kind of escape adventure." I can’t think of any other escape adventure games, but the genre really doesn’t matter. This game is fun and that’s all that anyone will really care about. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it would be like to be a spy with no weapons, no equipment and very little hope, then you’ll definitely want to check out this game. It’s simple enough for casual players to get into, but challenging enough to keep you busy for at least a month or so.