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Courting Disaster

Raw Danger” looks like a disaster movie/video game about a massive flood destroying a city. But under the hood, it’s really a game about the male’s silly pursuit of the female of the species. You play as a guy trying to escort a woman to safety. And yes, of course, she’s hot.

At one point, you (Joshua) stand with her (Stephanie) in the chilly rain, with water lapping perilously at your feet. But she wants to stop and chat. So you must pick one of four sentences that will inch you closer to becoming her boyfriend. What do you want to tell her?

A) “It looks like we’ll be OK.” (This will make you a wimp.)

B) “I don’t think a helicopter is coming.” (This will make you a jerk.)

D) “I can’t wait to get out of this place.” (Coward.)

No, clearly the right thing to say to this young woman during a deadly disaster is C) “What are you thinking about?” (Answer: herself.)

“Raw Danger” is very nearly a great little game. It’s earned no big fanfare from the press, because it’s not the next movie-based “Harry Potter” outing or “Transformers: The Game”.

But it is that rarest of titles: a fun game — a dramatic but charmingly goofy action-adventure — made on a relatively small budget (by the fairly humble Agetec, which is selling “Raw Danger” for just $15).

“Raw Danger” won’t blow you away. And it does move slowly at first. You begin as a waiter in a convention hall. You serve drinks. You get on your knees to help a woman in a designer gown find her missing contact lens. Can you say “minutia”?

Then come slow floods into the convention hall. Your initial goals are meager. You drag a ladder down a hall to enter a hole in a wall, so that you may reach Stephanie. She loses her mobile phone in the flood. Your choice of words have an effect on the outcome of the game. Do you say?:

A) “It’s not your fault!”

B) “No more phone calls.”

Or C) “How could you be so stupid”?

If you want her to end up her boyfriend, I think you know the answer.

As “Raw Danger” progresses, you and Stephanie climb up makeshift ladders and look for clues to get to the top of the building you’re stuck in. Everything gets harder and more interesting to figure out. And you eventually play as other characters in tougher spots.

The knock against “Raw Danger” are the visuals. They look less enticing on the PS 2 than some handheld PSP games. People and backgrounds barely look like such. They suffer from low-resolution artistry in an age of high-definition imagery.

But the designers, faced with making their own financial choice, were smart to focus on making the game entertaining instead of good looking.

And it’s hard to dislike the kookiness. You see flashbacks of Stephanie’s youth, and she’s a brunette. In the present day, she’s a blonde. It seems this is not an error but a funny bit of long-term character development on a shallow scale.

Then, a TV newscaster reports the flood has injured two people named Jim Beam and Will Nelson. Are you telling me Willie Nelson was cozying up to Jim Beam during a flood? What are the odds?

(“Raw Danger” retails for $15 for PS 2 — Plays fun. Looks weak. Moderately challenging. Rated “T” for blood, language, use of alcohol or tobacco, and violence. Three stars out of four.)

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