Review by KFHEWUI

"While not completely original, overall Covert Ops is a solid albeit short experience"

The Blue Harvest is an advanced military train that is leaving St. Petersburg and en route to Paris, and onboard is the French Ambassador to Russia along with his wife and child. A group of terrorists called Knights of the Apocalypse have taken over the train and are holding the ambassador hostage for $20 billion dollars for the safe return of the ambassador. Jack Morton, a member of NATO, is the only survivor of his squad that is protecting the train, and now Jack boards the Blue Harvest and must rescue the ambassador.

Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn's story has the feel of a Hollywood blockbuster, and the game is pure action with a nice mix of espionage. The story is well written and intriguing enough to hold the player's attention to the end with a nice amount of plot development and a few twists.

Graphics look amazing, and the backgrounds are pre-rendered but look great. The character models look nice except for the arms that do look blocky especially on Christina, but the characters and enemies are nicely animated. One nice touch is how the player gets to go on the top of the train and as the game progresses the surrounding scenery changes to show progression including snow covered fields, town area, and rural pasture. FMV cut scenes look fantastic, and there is a large amount of FMV cut scenes.

Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn is like a cross between Syphon Filter and Resident Evil, and the game is pure action while the camera and inventory are similar to Resident Evil. Controls are solid, and the game uses tank controls so Up is always forward while left and right are used for looking side-to-side. Rest of the controls are laid out nice and do not take too long to grasp, and every button is used for some kind of action.

The gameplay takes place in third person while inside the train, the game uses fixed camera angles, and the angles are good for the most part. Every time the player runs into the next section, there is a five second delay as the game loads the next angle. When on the roof of the train, the camera follows along behind the player, and it would have been nice if the developers could have incorporated the same camera for inside the train.

Soundtrack is fantastic with each track fitting the moment, and for the most part the music is a slower paced track while during action sequences a more urgent sounding tune plays. The game features voice acting and the voice acting is surprising good. None of the actors sound forced or like they were trying too hard and miss their mark.

Over the course of the game, there are countless enemies to kill however there is not a large variety of enemies, and the enemies include dogs, robot, helicopters, and grunts. Of course the grunts come in several different outfits, but they all act the same. There is a large selection of bosses, and each one has a unique weapon including flamethrower, crossbow, and blaster to name a few. Most of the bosses like the enemies drop with only a couple of hits, but a few of the bosses can be annoying like the flamethrower guy and blaster man.

Combat is decent but the only way to kill enemies is to look in the general direction and wait for a target to show up on the enemy. For the regular enemies, who usually stand still, this is not a problem, but the bosses can be pain. Weapon variety is another disappointment, and the only weapons in the game are pistol, dual wield pistol, machine gun, grenade attachment for assault rifle, explosives, and assault rifle. The player will also gain a crossbow however that can only be used for a puzzle. One of the more memorable parts involves controlling a turret gun to destroy attacking helicopters.

Aside from fighting enemies, the player also has to solve a few puzzles, but the puzzles in Covert Ops are not mind boggling tough. Most of the puzzles give the solution to the player right before the puzzle. Even if the player does get stuck, they can contact HQ or Christina, and both of them can help point the player in the right direction. The only puzzle that is difficult involves aligning a train next to the Blue Harvest so Jack can jump back onto the Blue Harvest, but the problem with this is that there is a time limit plus the train must maintain a certain speed alongside a certain car. Suffice to say, this puzzle definitely takes a few tries to pass.
The train is composed of sixteen cars that the player must navigate, and one major problem is that there is a lot of backtracking especially near the end where the player has to go back-and-forth from the front to the back of the train a few times. Another issue is the overkill with keycards, and there are numerous amounts of keycards but most of them are only used once with the exception of like two keycards. This can be annoying with the limited inventory space, and the player can only carry up to eight items at once. At save points, the player can store items, and there are plenty of save points scattered over the train. Most of the save points are located in a bathroom with a few exceptions, and a single file does take one block of memory.

Despite being two discs, Cover Ops: Nuclear Dawn is not a long game, and my first playthrough without a guide, lasted around three and a half hours. There are incentives to replay the game including six endings and a bonus scenario to playthrough.

Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn is not the most original game and does borrow ideas from other games, but what it does borrow, it executes well. Overall it is solid and enthralling game from start to finish even though it is a short journey, it is an unforgettable one.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/12/12

Game Release: Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn (US, 05/31/00)

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