Review by CardigansFan
"A great destructive first-person shooter"
I saw this game at Blockbuster that past couple of months I've been going there, and it was either rented, or I had other games on mind when I went in the store. This time, however, I didn't see any games of interest, and rented this game. I was expecting some FPS cheaply glorified by the pictures and writing on the back of the box, but I was dead wrong. Get ready for my best review yet, one I have put a lot of time into to try and get everything into.
The game follows the story of an ex-sergeant in "Black", a special operations force that gets the job done, no questions asked and without hesitation. You are thrust into action that happened 4 days prior to your ending up in jail. But the greatest thing EA did was not only create movie scenes with actual actors, but also create an epic-style opening, consisting of credits on a black screen, with symphonic music in the background.
The controls for this game are much like most other first-person shooters. However, there is not much of a tutorial for the controls, so you're on your own, or you have to use the instruction booklet. Nevertheless, the learning curve is very small and easy, and barely takes away from the great gaming experience. The only thing I didn't like is how they didn't use the L3 and R3 buttons, which could have been used for aiming (instead of L1), and how simple the grenade-throwing is; the only thing that determines how far it goes is the pitch towards the sky - there's no "power" gauge, like in other first-person shooters that determine how far the grenade goes.
Quite possible the best part of the game. Just about anything is destructible in this game, explosive or not. When an enemy goes behind cover (for example, a wooden frame covered with sheets of metal), you can shoot away at the cover, until your enemy is exposed, provided they don't relocate while you try to shoot them. Shooting at insignificant things has effects, too; shooting signs will make them fall down or burst into pieces. You can even shoot out all of the windows in an office building. However, the one things you can't do is blow up larger buildings, not even small pieces out of them. Taking an RPG smack-dab to the middle of a large office building will do nothing more than destroy the windows around the explosion area. A physics engine that would allow the player to chip down buildings shot-by-shot isn't exactly needed, but some indication of damage by an RPG should be there, such as a black circle (like in many FPS's)
The physics in this game are pretty good. When enemies are leaning out of windows or over edges and you shoot them, most chances are that they will fall forward. If a enemy is caught near an explosion, they will either duck, fall down, or even fly away if close enough. The enemies, along with anything else that falls, fall at a realistic speed, and hit the ground just right. The ragdoll physics are especially good; when an enemy falls out of a window, they will slide down if there is a slope, or slump over the next edge beyond the window, just like you'd think a dead body would in real life. While this is all nice, the falling thing can be unrealistic too. When you take a shotgun bullet straight in the body, most chances are that you'll go flying with the bullet, but in this game, an enemy can fall out of a window after a shotgun bullet even when they're not close to the window. Yes, that's right, the enemy could have stepped away from the window temporarily to reload, but will still fall through the window upon being shot. The only thing that won't send them out of the window all of the time is an RPG, when shot at the window frame, not actually going inside the building.
While they did put a lot of detail in the weapons that are available, the selection isn't too large. It mostly consists of sub-machine guns and similar guns, and there is little close combat involved; that means your shotgun won't see much action when you're surrounded by enemies. More shotguns, or maybe some better "secret" weapons (such as Winchesters or Peacemakers) would definitely make the game more interesting. Another disappointing thing is how there is only one type of grenade (frag), which means no flash grenades, which in the long run, slightly decreases the strategy content in the game. Putting those preferences aside, the game does fulfill what it was intended to do: make things explode. Any time you see a red object, such as a gas tank, or when your aiming reticule turns black, such as on a car, you have a ticket to large explosions with flashy (yet realistic) effects that affect enemies in the vicinity.
When there's an explosion in the game, you can almost feel it. The sound in the first mission, in concert with the graphics, make you feel like you're actually in the action; you can tell when a shot comes from behind, to the left, or to the right, and where that explosion came from. In addition, the music that does appear is also great, mostly because it's played by an actual orchestra, not some computer. There isn't a single complaint in this category.
Whether your mission is to assault a building, or blow up a vehicle, or just kill enemies, it's great gameplay all around. Starting from when you use the shotgun to open the door in the first mission, the action and suspense tend to never stop. The reloading sequences keep you dripping with suspense as you hope that no enemy will spot you or shoot you in those few seconds of vulnerability. In this game, cover can actually matter, for both you and the enemy. If you shoot at an enemy and have to reload, your enemy takes the opportunity to take cover and continue to shoot you safely. In the meantime, you are prone to attack from all corners, and therefore, you must crouch behind what cover you may have available, whether it be a tree, the remnants of a car, or just a stone block from a nearby, destroyed building. The AI is rarely stupid enough to just rush in, unless they have a shotgun or good armor. The only thing I didn't like about this game's AI is the enemy with the RPG's attack strategy; at a certain distance, that enemy will continually try to attack you with their RPG, disregarding the environment and your allies. Either way, they still give something for you to watch out for. The game implies that the best strategy is to just rush in and kill anybody in sight and destroy everything, it's not always the best strategy. You have to take cover, and blow up things at the right time (like when the most enemies are near it and when you have a good chance of hitting it). While you might beat the mission using the game's implied strategy, you'll end up fighting for your like with minimal health in the end, and will probably have to restart numerous times.
Variety/Replay Value (9/10):
This game delivers when it comes to variety; the number of missions is small, but they are long and worthwhile, and the way the game is set up, it almost never gets stale. Sometimes you just want to redo the mission to make it more movie-like, or maybe because you missed something during the mission, or even just for fun. In one mission, you might be stalking your enemy in a dark forest, while in another mission, you might be blowing up trucks and buildings, running, and evading RPG's and enemies at the same time, making the game intense and fast-paced. As said before, however, more close-combat encounters would have been nice. As for the difficulty, nothing much changes from setting to setting, except in the harder ones, the enemies shoot non-stop, while in the easier ones, they might shoot a couple times, take a break, shoot, stop, etc. giving you time to figure out where they're shooting from before you lose much health.
All in all, if you're looking for a fun FPS, I can't recommend you to do nothing more than go out and buy this game. I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't like this game, let alone hate it, like some reviewers here.
The one thing that could have made this game even more phenomenal, however, is if there was an option to take cover and jump over all objects, like in Gears of War, not just crouching, and maybe even switch to 3rd-person view in those moments.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/02/07
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