Review by danwheeler

Reviewed: 10/19/02 | Updated: 10/19/02

A thinking man's (and a sneaky man's AND a neanderthal man's) FPS

This is a game that demonstrates what first person shooter games should be. There’s got to be a hundred ways to play this one. A variety of customizable character options merge with realistically multi-pathed maps and rock solid controls to produce something more than the sum of its parts.

The most ingenious thing is that this is a first person shooter you can play without ever killing anyone. If you want to go in plasma guns blazing: A-OK. On the other hand, you can used stealth to sneak past your enemies and pick locks to get ahead. You can be as offensive (snicker) or defensive as you want. You can even customize the attributes of our hero to help you better play the game the way you prefer which is completely unheard of in genre but surprisingly natural in practice. This complete freedom extends and allows you to save anywhere, at any point in the extremely lengthy storyline.

The story has more going on than some RPG’s. Sometimes the political aspect can be as much fun as listening in on first year poli-sci students at community college trying to one up each other but if you ignore the occasional verbal diarrhea the story will suck you in. It’s light years ahead of the tired ''Space Marine must kill every mutant on planet'' routine we’ve become unwillingly used to. This story actually has *gasp* characters!

If I had to complain about anything I’d mention that the graphics are merely adequate. You get this square hallway deja vu whether you’re skulking in a New York warehouse, infiltrating a Hong Kong hotel or splashing through the Paris sewer system. Some variety in textures to match the variety saturating every other aspect of the game would have been nice. The load times aren’t bad except that the lack of traditional levels necessitates loading in the middle of larger worlds which can be a minor inconvenience at times.

Aside from very minor quibbles this is an example of what every gamer could want in a first person shooter. It’s literally a quantum leap ahead for the whole genre. Fans will surely be pleased and newbies will find themselves quickly addicted. The best part about this game is that everything it does so much better than it’s competitors is so natural and easy to use that you’ll scratch you head and wonder why no one ever did these things before.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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