Review by Tsutomu Senkawa

"Pretty good, but not 60 bucks good."

Well, I hate to disagree with everyone else, and maybe I'm missing something, but RtCW felt like a bad case of deja vu. No, not every game that comes out has to be utterly original, but after completing the single player campaign, I can't help feeling I'd already beaten it six or seven times before. As for the multiplayer game, I'm sure it's quite good; I haven't played it, as I don't have broadband access and I don't care for 3000 ping suicide fests. I will only be reviewing the single player aspect, so please take that into account.

First things first:

GRAPHICS - 8

Excellent player and character models; some of the best ever. Unfortunately, the high quality of the soldier models didn't rub off on the weapons or (some of) the environments. A few of the weapon models are very good, for instance the Mauser rifle or the Paratrooper assault rifle (my favorite). The 1911 looks like a toy, though (especially akimbo; the ejection port is sized for a .22). I understand that Activision (Nerve? Gray Matter? Id?) had to take low end machines into account, and keep the poly count low, but I've seen better low-poly weapons done by amateurs for Counter-Strike. Still, they are not bad, just not great. Much better than Soldier of Fortune, though. Some of the environments are spectacular, like the Castle and the Village levels, but eventually they fall into the too familiar hangar/underground lab/mine categories. Most memorable--in my opinion--are the Dam, the town of Paderborn, and the mountain Tram (where's Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton?). A lot of the game really will remind you of Soldier of Fortune (if you played it, that is; otherwise think Quake, Quake 2 or Half-Life).

SOUND - 9

The sound in RtCW is nearly perfect. The transition of footprints from metal to wood to stone to snow-covered stone is absolutely brilliant. And the stereo effects are handled so well, you will find yourself using your ears as much as your eyes to spot the enemy. Turn down the mediocre (and completely forgettable) dynamic musical score, and revel in the atmospheric sound effects. What is it with dynamic scores? I truly miss the catchy, adrenaline boosting tracks of Quake 2 and Doom (the Godfather of them all, and still the greatest IMO, if number of hours played has any bearing at all). One point off for cheesy German accents; I think they had two, maybe three voice actors. At times you can actually tell that one actor is having a conversation with himself (I am completely serious).

CONTROLS - 10

No complaints here. I think the guys that design controls for games have finally started PLAYING their games. The default set-up is exactly the way I wanted it; I didn't change a thing. Actually, it surprised me, as everything (including the R key for reload) is just the way I used to set it for Counter-Strike (when I still played CS, that is; prior to 11 September 2001--haven't been able to get into it since). The WWII setting does make a nice change of pace from T/CT.

GAMEPLAY - 6

I set apart control and gameplay to make a specific point: they are not one and the same, as many gamers seem to think. Pretty much any FPS can be set up to handle just right. The flow of the action, and the fun in it are way more important. Grand Theft Auto 3, for instance, has mediocre to poor controls, depending on the context, and none of them can be configured in any meaningful way. GTA3 is a blast to play, though, because there is simply so much to do and see. I guess it spoiled me a little, but even after Deus Ex the gameplay in RtCW would be a bit disappointing. Don't get me wrong; I blasted through it to see what happened next, and get the next weapon, and some of the firefights are entertaining. But it's simply too much like every other Id title ever made: kill, flip switch, kill, open door, kill, flip switch, kill kill kill, flip kill, open kill kill kill kill, move to next kill, find kill and flip kill, etc, etc, ad nauseum. What would be really great in two-player co-op is kind of repetitive alone. Throw in a terrible ending and no rewards that I can see, and you've got another Id ''classic.''

CHALLENGE - 5

Middle of the road, and that's not really a bad thing. The fights can actually be pretty tough, but with infinite reloads you'll beat it in no time. I think an easier game with limited saving (a la Shenmue) would have been a little more fun. This gamer's tired of the play five seconds-die-reload-die-reload-die-reload-make lucky shot school of action gaming. Difficulty is adjustable, so anyone should be able to jump in if they have prior FPS experience.

PERSONAL TILT - 6

Definitely above average, with moments of brilliance (sneaking into an apparently guarded building to assassinate a general only to reach the last room and find a scantily clad prostitute--oops, guess the guards were customers). Not the best time I've had with a shooter, but far from the worst.

OVERALL (not an average) - 7

I guess for sixty bucks I just expected more. The single player game was over pretty quickly, and with lousy 'net service, it'll be a while before I can really get anything out of the much-touted multiplayer mode. My advice: enjoy the multiplayer download and wait for the price to come down a bit--I'm sure it will.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/02, Updated 01/02/02


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