Review by rapta
Shadow Ops:Red Mercury (SORM hereafter) casts you as a black (shadow) ops member on a mission to track down and disable Red Mercury, a nuclear accelerant capable of turning a small nuclear device into a catastrophic explosive.
You start out in a war torn area of the Middle East, chasing down a terrorist who holds the red mercury. This part of the game is the main area in which the games flaws are exposed, the main being that the game is very script orientated. Unlike games such as Halo which allow some exploration, SORM has a very one-track route, with only one open door in an area which you can use. This helps the flow of the game in that it ensures you do what the developers want, but for gamers with a likening for trying to find bugs and new pathways, this can be a deal breaker. Also another significant problem I noticed when playing was that glass is indestructible, an unacceptable oversight in today's market.
This game has some excellent graphics to boot. The gun skins are almost photo-realistic, with smooth reload animations and melee attacks. The areas you fight in would have a nice sense of scale, however the designers have limited the effects by using fog which restricts your view. This in my opinion makes the game seem once again very linear, and not only that it dampens the experience which we know the X-Box is capable of delivering.
This is undoubtedly the best part of the game. When hooked up to a 5.1 Surround Sound system, this game REALLY shines. The atmosphere which is created is very immersive, with the music changing to suit the environment. My only fault with it would be that is can be a little bit predictive, and after playing through a few earlier levels, you get to know that when the sound changes in a certain way you are about to encounter a lot of enemies.
Control / Game play:
The controls are pretty simple, and after a few minutes you can get used to them. Personally I switched the button configuration to one more similar to Halo, as I find it easier to manage. The lean function (left trigger) is very useful, as it not only activates the scope but allows you to lean around corners and over boxes, making maximum use of cover, and preventing you taking unnecessary hits.
Not the game's strongest point, the main problem being that it's too slow. I'm a fan of first person multiplayer games, such as Counter-Strike and Halo for the PC, but this game lacks the sense of speed that you get with these games. It's also once a gain quite linear, with tracked roads being the way of getting around (unlike other games where you can go cross country).
At the moment I'm unable to comment on X-Box Live play, but if offline multiplayer is anything to go by I would say that it won't be up to much. The co-op mode is entertaining, at least the first time you do it, as it allows for tactics, and covering each other as you work through the levels. The extra levels designed specifically for co-op are quite good, as they give goals which require two people, and also up the enemy count to ensure you have plenty to shoot at.
I would strongly recommend RBYB (rent before you buy) on this game, as it won't be for everyone. The graphics are nice, but some of the flaws make it a little bit weak. The other thing worth mentioning is replay value, very low for me and I'm sure it will be for others. The system is very similar to that of Halo, with easy (Ranger) going up to very hard (Delta Force). Each level of difficulty changes the amount of damage done to you by a single shot, and the amount of hits the enemy can take. The number of enemies doesn't change significantly, so the difference isn't very severe.
Personally the game has playability, but doesn't compare to the likes of Halo and other first person shooters which offer a better designed experience and extended replay value.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/19/04
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