Review by watchlaar

"An impressive feat for the platform."

Well, I read the lackluster reviews on IGN and GameSpy etc. I had the title on hold at Gamestop, and was almost ready to forget it all together. I decided, however, to take the chance..... and I'm sure happy with my decision!

For starters, let me just convey that SC:CT for the DS is TOTALLY playable at the framerate it delivers. IGN indicated a chugging FPS that really brought the score down, specifically when you have vision enhancement going. Well, the FPS does take a hit with Thermal Vision enabled, but not too bad with Night Vision. Either way, you wouldn't be running around with those enhancements on, anyway. You find a safe, dark spot and flip on the VE gogs. Then you flip 'em off!

With that out of the way, here goes my summary.

• Presentation: 8/10

Very nice indeed. Slick inventory menus. Great, immersive feeling with the OPSAT (Operational Satellite Uplink), like you're really in full control of Sam's data. The options could have been a little more robust (keymapping, contrast, more camera options), but I didn't feel like they just ported the thing and threw it in a box.

• Graphics: 8/10

I don't really see how they could have done any better than this. The lighting is excellent (although you cant shoot 'em out), the textures are totally acceptable for the limitations of the system, and the animations are fine. The zoom, scan, and Vision Enhancement effects are tremendous. The OPSAT and inventory graphics are beautiful. The lack of texture variation is made up for by very nice level design. Camera rotation and zoom work well, and don't suffer from too much stutter or glitch. Again, for a 1st-gen title under the constraints of the format, it looks marvelous.

• Audio: 6.5/10

Adequate. The enemy footsteps are there to tip you off, and certain environmental sounds add a nice touch. The music is cool, but it only distracts from the immersion. Therefore, I turn it off. Weapon sounds are as good as any N64 title. Adequate.

• Gameplay 8/10

There ARE certain elements that could have been improved, so I haven't given it a 10 in this category. However, make no mistake. I love playing this game.

When the question "How long is this game?" is asked, and people say they got through the first mission in 8 minutes... well, I say that you're not playing it correctly. What kind of fun can you have, barreling through a level at that pace? The whole fun for me is to take my time, get involved in the atmosphere, take in the surroundings, adjust the camera, use the scan button, etc. I really see this title as a strategy game, in that I first think, then move.... Then think, then move. Playing in this fashion, I find that I have a LOT of fun.

My point is, to rate "gameplay" is totally a subjective affair, hinging on your gameplay style. If you like to play the way I do, the game rocks. If you like to play it like a frenzied FPS, you'll probably be hampered by the controls. The inability to remap the buttons shaves a bit off the score here, the digital control pad is a definite compromise and the AI could definitely use some boosting, but as I said, I'm having a blast with it.

• Multiplayer: N/A

I'll revise this once I find someone to play with.

• Replay Value: 7/10

I decided to start the game over after having played through most of the Lighthouse mission, and I only enjoyed it more. It's the adjusting of technique and reconsidering position and tactics that makes a game like this fun. An unlockable mini-game or two would have been welcome. Of course, multiplayer always boosts a score here.

All in all, I'm very glad I bought this one. Don't listen to pro reviews too closely, because there's a good chance the game was reviewed by someone who was TOLD to review it, and would rather be playing UNREAL.

The $40 price tag is too high, but when the game satisfies, it's easy to remember that the extra $10 would have disappeared to somewhere else, anyway.

Lastly, A comment on the touch-screen aspect:

A LOT of possibilities exist in this area, and it's nice to see certain developers focusing on these possibilities. A slider to control Sam's speed would make a nice addition to the next installment. Pocket PC's have had touch-screen input for a long time, but I've seen mini-games in Mario64 DS that are as good as some $10-$15 Pocket PC games. The price of a DS game suddenly seems...reasonable!

Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/05

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