Marines: Modern Urban Combat
Review by KFHEWUI
"Marines Modern Urban Combat feels and plays like a game that is still in the beta stage"
Marines Modern Urban Combat is a port of a 2005 game called Close Combat: First to Fight. Why the name change and a port five years later?
Two factions of radicals have started a civil war in Beirut in the attempt to gain political favor. Caught in the heart of the war are civilians and the marines, and the marines must fight to suppress the civil war and protect all civilians.
The story telling is neither that great nor interesting for the game. Considering how little plot development there is it is no surprise. At the start of every mission is a cut scenes that is simple a report from a new station explaining the current events, but sadly the story is not that interesting which thankfully the scenes can be skipped. Before each level there is a brief sitrep and a list of objectives that are to be completed over the course of the level.
Marines Modern Urban Combat is a first person shooter, and its claim of fame is the realistic nature of the game of commanding a squad of soldiers which were helped developed by troops that were a part of combat. These commanding sequences including laying cover fire, suppression, and ordering air strikes to name a few. Also another claim was the realistic AI and behavior that was so unique that each play through of the game would never be the same. This might have been true for the original version, but it is not true for the port.
The single player campaign is composed of six missions, and each mission is composed of three levels excluding mission five which has four levels. Each level is composed of several different sections, but each section is usually only a few minutes long. Locales include market place, sewers, schools, war torn cities, and factory to name a few, but unfortunately, some of the levels are repeated several times over the course of the game. A problem with the levels is that they are not memorable at all instead most of them range on the dull side including the sewers levels which were not that great the first time and still are not that great on the third time through.
To help make the levels feel dull are the weak graphics yet the Wii is not capable of producing high quality graphics like Uncharted 3, it is able to produce better looking games than this sad state of this game. Considering that the game is a port of a five year old game, it is sad that the port looks even worse than the source material.
Marines Modern Urban Combat looks like it stepped out of a time machine from the late 90's of PC gaming. Character models are embarrassingly bad including characters that are either blocky or contain oval shaped arms, and the joints of the arms are simply the overlapping ovals of the upper and lower arm. Even worse is the animation which is including awkwardly collapsing dead enemies and bizarre movements of the arm where the shoulder joint is level with mid-head when the arms are down by the side. Other graphically issues including plenty of screen tearing, people that disappear into thin air and odd texture glitches.
Sadly the controls also help drag down this game, and the layout is strange which does take some while to get used too even after learning the controls, they never feel nature. Worst part of the controls is reloading which is performed by lowering the remote then raising it, but since the remote is used for aiming, it sends the cursor into spiral. In the heart of combat, this is a huge pain and honestly is unforgivable, but thankfully the game automatically reloads when the clip is empty so the player is better off using that instead of the reload control. Sensitivity of the cursor is very high just barely moving it to the side which causes it to move the screen in hundred and eighty degrees instead the player has to slightly move to the side then center it to prevent this. Lower the sensitivity also works however even after this, the cursor movement when using the scope feels off which in turns makes it a pain to aim properly.
I wish I could say the gameplay is better but that is not the case. Despite stating "deadly AI" on the case, the enemies are as harmlessly as a fly, and the enemies are brain dead. Enemies will either move in predictable patterns, offer little resistance, or even not give a crap. Enemies when fired upon, either A) duck and stand up repeatedly like the whack-a-mole arcade game, B) stand still and shoot, or C) back away. The only time the enemies ever pose a threat is when there is a vehicle, but an airstrike takes care of those with ease.
Objectives are as generic as possible which mainly are composed of kill all enemies then move on while either trying to reach point "B" from point "A" or investigate a building. There are a few escort and protect sequences, but these levels are dull due to the lack of enemies plus there are usually a heavy machine gun around which leads to a quick and painless battle thanks to the computer controlled allies.
The player can give commands to their team mate which each squad is composed of four members. These commands including: follow, close, single, double, hold, snipe, suppress, cover fire, and comply, but even with all these commands, they are not need since the enemies are so bad that they put up little resistance. On the flip side, the player's team mates are deadly accurate and can kill enemies with a single shot. It takes more shots from the player unless they are point blank on the enemy. Since the computer controlled team mates are so great why is the enemy's AI so bad? However the player does not have to go through the game alone, and they can let a second player experience the joyous journey of this game. The original version allowed up to four players co-op plus had multiplayer so why is only two players supported in this version?
Giving commands is very simple, and is easily performed by holding down a button then moving the cursor over the option. Just like reloading, this can send the camera into spin mode. Not all commands are available at once like airstrike, mortar, and sniper which are only available at specific points usually near vehicles and bunkers. Some commands are mapped on the D-Pad which are hold/follow and hold fire/fire at will.
Also worth mention the sound track which is composed of only a few tracks in which I use the term "tracks" loosely. Most of the time, the game is silent with only the sound of gun fire being heard. It does create an atmosphere however every once in a blue moon, a tune will play that feels out of place. The only two tracks that I have heard in the game are one that has an Oriental vibe to it, and a second one that is a few strums on a guitar. Neither track is long or memorable yet sadly the tracks usually get drowned out by the gunfire and chatter. The voice acting is probably the best part of the game. While not that great, the voice acting does not feel force or macho sounding, but the civilian's voice overs are terrible which include just screaming that sounds bad. Enemies mainly grunt and groan with death, but every once in a while they might belt out a line of dialog.
Single player campaign can be beaten in about six to eight hours, and there are several difficulties to help with replay value however it is not worth it. The game can be co-op with two players, but considering how deadly the computer controlled allies are, it is better playing with them than a second person.
Several other major issues plague this game including lack of weapons which include three types of machine guns and grenades. Oh, there are heavy machine guns that can be used, but they are better off in the hands of the computer controlled allies. Skipping is another major issue which happens a lot when too many enemies pop up, and it happens at almost every checkpoint in the game. The mini-map in the game is a huge headache which is a major pain in buildings. For example if there is a red dot on the map, and the player is on the top of a building, the map does not show that the enemy as on the ground level which can lead to a wild goose chase.
Marines Modern Urban Combat is a sloppy port of a five year old game however the final product feels like the game was still in beta form at the time the decision to release it was made. The game is playable however it is not worth it at all, and this is a case of wasted potential. Since FPS is not that big of a genre on the Wii, the developer could have easily created a big hit and must have multiplayer experience instead it feels like the developers put as little effort as possible into the game.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/13
Game Release: Marines: Modern Urban Combat (US, 01/26/10)
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