The developers' ambiton vastly exceeded their talent
Sometimes, a unique game comes along for the PC that was designed by a small developer with the grandest of visions – games like Gothic, Arcanum, and Vampire – The Masquerade: Bloodlines. Frequently, these games deliver a lot of quality content and some excellent, unique gameplay mechanics. They are also often plagued with bugs and other holes that show just how much the developer was stretched to make such a unique title. Boiling Point: The Road to Hell falls firmly into that group, but it is not one of its stronger members. Like its high concept brethren, Boiling Point is like a dream come true on paper. However, once you fire it up and get into it, the weak production values, uncountable glitches, choppy frame rates, horrible shooting action, and boring gameplay spoil your excitement for the game. Boiling Point is huge and ambitious, but it's just not that good.
Boiling Point could best be described as a modern day Oblivion with guns, jungles, and vehicles. (Ironically, Boiling Point might fit the "Oblivion with guns" moniker better than Fallout 3). It is completely open-ended, allowing you to take on or complete just about any mission that you want at any time. Along the way you earn money, pick up guns and ammo, find and loot goodies, and shoot bad guys. To its credit, Boiling Point is as open-ended as you can get. You have every bit the freedom that you would find in an Elder Scrolls game. Your quest log fills up quickly, and once it does, you will have a huge menu of missions to take on at any time. Buy a car. Steal an item from one faction and give it to another. Clear out a base full of enemies. Take a picture and then use it as blackmail. Buy gas for your car, and while you are exploring, find a hidden weapons dealer. This type of game has always been a short attention span, explorer's dream. You can easily play for 40 hours without making much progress on the main quest. There is, indeed, something special about a game with a living, breathing world like this. To its credit, Boiling Point has a great map system, which allows you to put all sorts of custom markers on it and choose where you want to go next. It even saves every NPC that you have talked to so that you can find that person. It is a lot easier to tolerate bugs and gameplay issues with this template.
At the same time, Boiling Point fails to deliver the "living, breathing world" in a few key ways. This world is very empty. You can drive around and explore, but there is very little that is interesting to do between mission points. The major city in which you begin the game is large and has a lot of buildings, but you can't go inside most of them, and there are hardly any citizens walking the streets or cars driving around. The game allows you all sorts of breadth, but it fails to reward you for exploring it. Boiling Point's fictional country sometimes feels like an empty shell. It has the size of a Grand Theft Auto or an Elder Scrolls game, but not the density.
Boiling Point's gameplay is very Deus Ex-ish, at least on the surface. It is primarily a first person shooter, but it has an inventory screen where you manage your stuff, a hotkey bar where you drag items like your favorite guns or health packs, and a skill system. It also has an RPG-like trading interface when you meet a merchant. PC Gamers will appreciate the complexity, but it has some problems with its implementation. Looting corpses is much more tedious than it should be. You cannot simply drag and drop items into your inventory. The game asks you to confirm each transfer. When you are transferring ammo, you have an extra dialog box to confirm how many bullets to transfer. There is no quick transfer method, like a double click, shift-click, or a "transfer all". Considering how much time you spend managing inventory, it quickly becomes an issue.
Inventory management isn't a major problem, as much as it is symptomatic of an overall lack of QA and polish. Rumor has it, Boiling Boint was nigh unplayable when it was first released. Years later, it has been extensively patched, but its edges are still very rough. Audio constantly cuts out. I would say that that audio in this game works well less than 50% of the time. Sometimes, you will see NPC's in an aiming pose without a weapon in his hands. NPC's driving vehicles will sometimes crash into walls and then honk their horns as if the building in front of them is supposed to lift itself up and walk away. When you aim down the sights of your gun, there is no animation for it – you just switch to aim mode in a single frame. There are too many bugs, glitches, and problem areas to name. Every five minutes, you find a new one. None of them are game-breaking anymore, but the sum of them is very hard to look past.
The one flaw that drags down Boiling Point the most is the fact that it fails miserably as a first person shooter. The act of firing guns and killing enemies is simply not fun in this game. It's more often than not, an exercise in extreme frustration. Enemies run a thousand miles an hour, darting around like flies, occasionally stopping to pick you off and chip away at your health. Guns jam constantly when you are early in the game -- you can't pull the trigger on a gun with a better than 50% chance that it will actually go off. Try getting into close quarters combat with an enemy and then dying because your gun jammed three times in a row and you will see what I mean. The handling of all of the weapons just feels wrong and none of the weapons seem like they pack any visual punch. Since combat is a major part of completing most of the missions in the game, the fact that it is almost broken is a huge problem for Boiling Point. Like the shooting, driving vehicles is never what it is cracked up to be. The mouse and keyboard just isn't a very good scheme for vehicle controls.
I played this game with 2 GB of RAM and an Nvidia 8800GTX. I was able to max it out on all of those settings, but that's not saying much. The vegetation looks nice, but everything else looks like a time warp back to 2002. The blocky character models, vehicles, flat plain textures, etc. They look downright awful in places. It does not appear to be a very well-optimized game. Unless you have a high end card, you will probably be disappointed by this three year old game's choppy performance.
After playing this game for a while, you will wonder whether it's worth it to keep making boring treks into the countryside for a few minutes worth of action that isn't very good. It is very hard to stay interested in this game. It doesn't please me to say that Boiling Point is so lousy. It was such a great concept, but maybe that's part of the problem. It seems like a classic example of a game that was way too ambitious for the small developer working on it. That might explain the game's universally amateurish feel. The game looks outdated for its age, and even then, it was released with all kinds of quirks and glitches. You might think this game sounds great on paper, but you are better off avoiding it