Published by Novalogic/Vivendi
Developed by Climax
Platform Xbox, Playstation 2, PC (reviewed on Xbox)
ESRB Rating Teen
By now, you know the story. Somalia, 1993, clusterfuck military operation, plucky troops fighting their way to safety and attempting to complete their mision. Now, thanks to Novalogic’s new game release, you can put yourself in some of those missions and see how you fare. Unfortunately, the ship has sailed on military squad shooters, and apparently the guys at Climax didn’t get the memo. The end result is a game that looks and plays like it should have been released five years ago, and a host of rival titles outperform this one in pretty much every arena.
The single-player game is pretty solid, and longish for a shooter of its kind, with sixteen missions that encompass multiple objectives. You get choices about your weapon loadout and secondary gear, and get dropped in to the thick of things to raise hell and kill a bunch of fairly anonymous badguys. You can also issue orders to your squad to try and direct the action a bit, and from time to time you’ll be placed in vehicles and in control of emplaced guns. It sounds simple enough, and it is. The gameplay is very straightforward shooter fare, though the vehicle segments are a strange on-the-rails shooter experience that seems out of place in the larger context of the game. Squad control feels likewise tacked-on, or the AI on your squad isn’t very good. Orders are ignored or executed with rank incompetence, resulting in a shot-up squad or your own death more often than not.
[ad#longpost]After the first couple of missions, I just gave up trying to tell my squad anything and treated it like a solo shooter. Of course, as a solo shooter, the game’s no great shakes. Control response is sluggish, and the difference between one weapon and the next feels largely cosmetic, which is a shame given the wide variety of available weapons. The Xbox multiplayer promises up to fifty folks at a time, though my few online games were muddled with bad lag and jerky framerates any time a large number of folks got clustered in one area. This could have been a network issue, but may also be a problem with the game itself.
The graphics are passable, though a bit dated in appearance, and there are some clipping issues here and there that detract from the experience. Character models are blocky and undetailed, but the vehicle models are better. One of the more irritating graphical issues is the “displaced” muzzle flash from enemy fire. When chasing baddies around in the dark, it would be nice if their weapons fire appeared to originate at their actual location, instead of some five to ten feet in front of them. This is a nasty surprise the first few times you round a corner to attack a fire source, only to discover that he’s now behind you, despite where his gun appears to be firing from. Sound is mediocre, with cheezy synthrock at the menus to boot. All the voices sound pretty much the same, and the weapons fire is only nominally varied.
All in all, this would have been a passable movie tie-in game when the film came out, but enough time has passed that some graphical improvements should have been made. Add to this the subpar repetitive gameplay, poor squad command system, and frustratingly doltish AI (both enemy and ally), and suddenly this one just doesn’t seem worth the time and effort. With things like Ghost Recon and SOCOM out there already and doing this sort of thing better, there’s just not much to recommend this one. If you’ve already played all those games and are just killing time ’til SOCOM 3 and the next Full Spectrum Warrior, then this might merit a rental, but only if you’re feeling desperate.