SouthPeak is Like a Box of Chocolates...
That's a brutal cliche to use, though far less brutal than the majority of cliches used in the game. Returning to the point, the cliche does indeed hold somewhat true. Games published by SouthPeak always tend to receive a mixed welcome. Most aren't seen as top-tier games, they suffer from budgetary issues, bugs, dated graphics, and sub-par voice acting. Some go so far as to call their titles "shovelware", though anyone who could say that clearly does not own a Wii. However they do fill a much needed niche. While the top tier publishers are raving about story-driven rather than gameplay-driven games, iPhone games, and the glorious eventual gaming feat of having simple minigames move with us in our pockets and replace our precious PCs and consoles, SouthPeak is that one voice in the wilderness still willing to take chances on games that won't be used as endless sequel-driven franchises just to milk a cash cow endlessly. They're the last of the olden type publishers with a serious presence that is taking smaller startup studio games and Central/Eastern European import games and giving them a proper fit and finish with a boxed retail release.
With the recent acquisition of 2K's former CEO, things may be looking up for SouthPeak's position, though I do hope it won't come at the cost of some of the bizarre import games and smaller budget games they've become known for. One can hope it will do well for quality. I'm still traumatized by my attempts to run the PC version of Two Worlds. After I finally got the product activation sorted out, the game began crashing repeatedly, and eventually refused to start...consuming one of my limited activations. For that reason, this review of Raven Squad was conducted using the XBox 360 version as reference. To be fair, I've no doubt that the product activation system used by SouthPeak for most of their games has come a long, long way in the time since Two Worlds, nor do I get the impression having played Raven Squad that its PC cousin is anywhere near as buggy as the original Two Worlds release.
In that vein, the first thing that strikes me as I fire up Raven Squad is that, starting with the logo videos, and carrying through the menus, configuration, and introductory cinematic, the polish is far, far greater than that which I would typically expect from what would otherwise be a budget title. The menus are top quality, accompanied by excellent music, a sensible layout, and the cinematic introductory movie is very well put together, minus some caveats we'll get to later. Indeed, small Hungarian developer Atomic Motion puts together a clean presentation, but let's see how well it holds up!
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