I recently picked this game up for a "weekend excursion", and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I know that everyone has been saying this game is like GTA, which is true, but this game, to be fully appreciated, needs to be thought of as its' own entity and not just a knock off.
When starting the game the player is greeted by something that resembles a meeting. At first you don't really know what’s going on, but soon you learn that you are in a meeting at the base of operations for a group of mercenaries called Executive Operations or ExOps. After this meeting is over the player is taken to a character select screen where he/she can chose 1 of 3 charecters, each of whom has a certain specialty. The British agent prefers a more covert approach to things, the "loner" American can sustain more physical damage than the others, and the grizzly Swede has a pension for using extreme force. After you have chosen your character the game begins.
The story in the game is really nothing extremely special. The game takes place in a "real world" version of North Korea. After the North Korean president (Kim) begins to open his eyes to democracy, he is quickly murdered by his son, General Song. General Song immediately starts putting up WMD programs and dealing the weapons they produce to terrorists. As soon as this comes to the attention of the world, North Korea finds itself overrun with Allied Nations forces who want to destroy the dictatorship, Chinese forces who want to assimilate the country into the People's Republic, South Korean forces (who are being led by the CIA) looking to make Korea whole again, and the Russian Mafia who are there to make money. The player’s job as the Merc is to come in and collect the bounty on General Song. On top of that the player is to go in and collect the bounties on "the deck of 52" which are Song and his "Right hand men" so to speak (many of the bounties are optional so it is the player’s choice whether to hunt them down or not). The story develops further as the Merc takes more missions. Missions can come from any of the factions in the war. The Merc is not tied to one side or the other (otherwise he/she wouldn't be a mercenary). Play the sides, get paid, and go home. Pretty much the whole of the game.
After hearing the talk about how this game was just like GTA I figured I knew what I was going to be playing even before I turned the game on. I must say that I was greatly surprised at what I found. Even though this game has a lot in common with GTA, it is quite different. Though the game is not as polished game play wise as GTA it still has a lot of depth and detail. The characters all look really good, the atmosphere is amazing, the vehicles are quite detailed, and all the subtle things that people normally overlook look damn good as well. Though there are a few complaints about how the game plays it is overall a well done game. A lot of what makes this game so fun to play is how much attention to detail was paid. For example, when your Merc gets a mission his/her contact will talk to him/her over a radio. If the player swings the camera around he/she can actually see the characters mouth moving as he/she communicates with his/her contact. Little things like this really give the game a life like feel. On top of that when in the heat of battle many things can be done to heighten the experience. Not only can the character take over ground vehicles he/she can take over air vehicles as well. Taking over a helicopter is a bit tricky, but worth it. On top of that any turret and any weapon is fair game. When they say take over anything, they mean take over anything! Something else that catches the players’ eye is the fact that any building and just about anyone in the game can be shot and killed or destroyed. The one negative side of that is the fact that if you shoot someone you are currently allied with or if you shoot a civilian you lose "respect" from them and money. Another aspect of the game play that really drives this title home is the atmosphere. Usually in war games one kind of gets a feel of what a war torn country would look like, but in this one the player truly sees what it is like. The sky is dark, the land is bare, everywhere you go people are fighting with each other. Just driving down the road the player will assaulted with factions fighting with each other (in real time). Depending on what vehicle and what side the player is currently aligned with he or she could get shot at as well. Example, the player takes over an allied vehicle and drives straight into a N. Korean base. As soon as a N. Korean sees the player it is an all out firefight. This is actually a good aspect of the game, and a negative one because you may have one faction with you in the vehicle, but as soon as you get out and takes over a vehicle from a rival group the person who was just riding with you will start to shoot at you. The best part of the game, in my opinion, is the fact that you have the ability to control a mass amount of destruction. During the course of the game you are given the ability to call for supply drops and call for long distance artillery fire or bombing raids. This alone makes for hours and hours of fun and destruction.
With all its positive aspects this game comes with quite a few negative ones as well. First off is the physics in the game. Apparently tanks and hummers weight only about 10 lbs and grenades weigh about 2 tons. When you take over a vehicle and start driving down the road, if you hit someone or run into someone you either go flying off to the side off the road, or you flop up into the air. This can get pretty annoying especially if you’re in the middle of a mission where you need to escort people and you fail the mission because you hit a civilian car and your car did a double back flip and landed upside down. Something else that bugs me is the fact that most of the time the player can flip a vehicle back onto its wheels by meleeing it. This just doesn't quite seem possible to me. Another aspect of the physics that bothers me is the distance the player can throw a grenade. It is literally something like 10 feet. This may seem kind of far, but in the game you will find your self throwing a grenade and then running into it as it explodes because it only went a few feet in front of you. Eventually you learn to adapt, but it is very frustrating. The final aspect of the physics that bothers me is the collision detection and the effect it has on the environment. The good thing about the collision engine is the fact that vehicles and the environment around them take damage, the bad part is that it is very unrealistic. When the player runs into a sign or something on the side of the road it doesn't fall over, it just kind of leans back. The same is true for fences and stuff of that nature. Also, vehicles take unrealistic environmental damage as well. When riding down the road if you hit a bump or a hill the vehicle will start to take damage. This isn't really too big of a factor unless you really need the vehicle for a mission, and it is already at a low health level. The biggest gripe I have with how the game functions is the splash damage. It is almost non-existent. If the player toss's a grenade or shoots off a rocket it does almost no damage to the area surrounding the target.
The games graphics are quite amazing. With everything that is packed on the screen at one time it never really compromises when it comes to visuals. All the affects remain stunning, and the environments all look very good. The biggest kick that I got from the graphics was the smoke affects. I could not believe how well that smoke looked as it billowed through the air. Like I said before, everything in this game from the environment to the weapons to the players all look excellent.
The sound in this game is pretty good, explosions sound like explosions and bullets whizzing by sound like bullets whizzing by. The sound really adds to the "war torn" atmosphere of the game. The sound is very clear, with no twang or interference.
It is nice to see a "non-sequel" game come out that is actually fun and entertaining. Go out and get this one today. Even with the small gripe I have about the physics of the game I can honestly say that this game is for sure a good buy. It holds a ton of replay value, and just going through the game once takes about 20 hrs or so. Collecting all the secrets and grabbing the "deck of 52" will for sure provide hours of entertainment. Not to mention the fact that you can go on a rampage whenever you want. I give this game an 8. It is deserving of a 9 but the physics really take away from the games overall score. Put in some decent physics and you have a damn good game on your hands.
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Do these guys look familiar??
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