Review by DGreenwood
"Not bad, but will be quickly forgotten"
Lord knows I've been aching to get my hands on this game ever since the multiplayer test came out. I played that one map for about 2 weeks solid, and if that was any indication of what the entire game was going to be like, I would be first at the counter with my 60 bucks. So did it live up to my expectations? Well, not really, but then again, what could? Oh yeah, Soldier of Fortune 2. But never mind that. Let's get on to the review.
Quite nice. Very atmospheric design, and some nice fogging effects (ie, the crypts... *shiver*). The enemy models are spot on, and the best thing about them are the death animations, which are quite varied, and very cool. It really felt like I was in some classic world war II movie, and for once, I actually appreciated the lack of gore. I never thought I'd be saying this, but Id's usual gore and splatter probably would have been bad for this game, so it all worked out for the best. Of course, it's a little wierd to me that Medal of Honor AA is already out, using the same engine, and takes this game to school graphically, but we won't hold that against RTCW.
Once again, excellent. The Nazis talk in a mix of German (''Vas ist los?'' and ''Nein! Nein!'') and thick german accented english. Some people have complained about this, but why? Some of what they shout mid level affects how you play, and it wouldn't help if it were all in German. Some of the scripted AI conversations are awesome, and I don't want to spoil anything. The music is dynamic, which makes it dramatic, if not memorable. The weapon sounds are pretty nice, and overall, this works very well.
Story: Surprisingly good for an FPS, where I don't consider story a requirement (in fact, it's usually a detriment, as in the endless intro level of Half Life). So I don't give a number, but I will say it's impressive, what with the living dead and all.
Hmph. This isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's just a little bit lacking in a few key areas. First, let's tackle single player. The experience is very immersive and intense, but suffers from one main problem... difficulty. Even on the easiest difficulty level, the game is way too hard. I'm not saying it can't be beaten, I'm just saying that it relies far too much on quicksaving. Really, what fun is a game where every 30 seconds you get shot through the head and have to reload? Another annoyance for me was how much of the game relied on sniping, and picking off the enemy from a distance. The way that this game has been hyped as a tribute to the olden days of FPSing led me to expect more running and gunning, but there's virtually none to be found. Overall, it's a sadly detached experience, and even slaying the undead lacked a certain kinetic thrill.
Multiplayer is where this game really shines. Developed by a completely different studio, multiplayer mode involves an ingenious Axis vs Allies team based gameplay. It's reminiscent of Team Fortress Classic, but in my opinion, superior. In TFC, it didn't really matter what class you chose, you could still get by somehow. In RTCW, the classes each have distinct roles, and are all required to some degree in order to complete a mission successfully. I have quickly found the Medic to be my favorite class, what with it's power to raise dead comrades and create medical packs. The engineer can plant and defuse dynamite, necessary to accomplish key directives. The lieutenant can call in airstrikes (very impressive) and create ammo (always in demand). Finally, the soldier can arm himself with special weapons, most notably the flamethrower, which while utterly useless in single player, is great for clearing out a room or tunnel in this mode. The best thing about this game is that teamwork comes naturally, since the players respawn in packs. I also noticed a lot more conversation between players than in other games of this variety (due to the pre-recorded audio chat), which always is fun. The only gameplay mode that needs work is checkpoint mode, which plays like UT's Domination, only terrible.
But there are a few problems with multiplayer that need to be mentioned. First of all, there aren't a whole lot of maps. Secondly, of those maps, not many are really all that good. The Beach map from the test is probably the best map in the pack, with the possible exception of the map with the two radar installations. But a bigger issue lies in the specialization of the classes. The problem is that Id has created a great group of classes for a certain type of game. but this doesn't lend itself well to customization. Not only that, but I would imagine making a map that made decent use of these character classes is rather difficult, so I fear that there won't be many add on maps in the future. But this is probably a good thing, since there's no way to download maps from servers when joining a game, as in UT or Half Life. This is seriously annoying, since if you don't have the map you are just dumped back to the main screen and told to find it yourself. Oh well. Believe me though, Multiplayer is loads of fun, though I'm not sure how long it will last.
Need a new multiplayer fix? This'll probably make you happy. Don't have broadband? Then don't waste your time. Single player is not really worth mentioning, so we still wait for the next truely great single player experience. And now comes the part where I rant. In short, Half Life was a complete waste of time, Soldier of Fortune was the greatest FPS since the original Quake, Doom is the greatest game of all time, and if you don't own Serious Sam, then for God's sake, BUY IT. It's only ten bucks now, people!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/11/02, Updated 01/11/02
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