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Old 10-15-2003, 02:16 AM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 118
Default An Unbiased Review

First of all it's hard to review a game like this because it uses the Half-Life 1 engine-- which I think is the source of it's major flaws. Second, I don't know whether I should look at it from the perspective of a CS fan, or of a game critic, because there's a huge difference. All the reviewers in game magazines today are going to stomp this game, for reasons i'll get to, but it's a much different story when you understand what they had to work with.

I'll get right to the point and say that the biggest flaw is the enemy AI. Thanks to this, every mission, no matter how creative, feels the same. After playing a few missions you begin to know what the AI is going to do, and where they are going to show up. It feels like target practice because the enemies just pop out, you kill them, they drop back down. They don't act like terrorists who want you dead, they act like robots that don't know what they're doing half the time. But thankfully, ritual's huge amounts of scripting saves it somewhat from being so repetitive.
Every mission has something going on, like tanks busting through the wall, or harriers taking out buildings. This helps you feel like your more apart of the action and brings you into the environment, where as the AI makes you feel like your playing bop-a-gofer at chuckey cheese. Unfortunately, the scripted sequences aren't perfect, they do a lot of strange things that make it really feel like your playing a scripted game. For example, during one mission, I get the impression that they imagine you'll use a shotgun in a certain area, because there is a terrorist against the wall that's just waiting to be blown out the window. Instead I was low on ammo and switched over to my handgun and headshot him-- it's pretty strange when they go flying through the window anyway, as if the pistol has that much kick to it. And this is just one example.
Another irritating aspect is the AI spawning. It's true what other reviews say, you can actually see enemies at times come out of thin air. However, most of the time you don't see it, you just realize that someone is hacking at your back with a machete in what was a seemingly empty hall. But again, these problems seem to be a problem of the HL engine-- I don't know if the programmers could have taken anymore steps to fix this, or if maybe they just didn't have the time, it's hard to tell. Granted, the steps they take to make the AI more interesting makes me think that they couldn't do much to help it.
Another grip, and possibly the biggest for CS fans and Valve, is that the game doesn't "feel" like your playing counter-strike. It feels more like Solider of Fortune 2, or the original half-life. Headshots aren't what they are in CS, it takes a few hits to bring them down if you have something like a pistol. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, since the AI just sits there shooting at you and doesn't move, it'd be almost too easy if one easy shot could take them down. But this is not by any means an easy game (I played on normal) thanks to the AI once again. Dieing is always frustrating. Later in the game it gets really annoying when LAW rocket launcher carrying enemies start shooting you at point blank range in tight quartered office cubicles. And there's plenty more strange things than this, like kamikaze thugs in underground drug labs-- Don't get me wrong, those guys are hilarious, but the enemies don't always seem to fit in with the circumstances.

But enough about the AI. The missions and levels in this game have a lot of variety and helps to keep you playing. None of the levels feel like they were rushed or put together with leftover assets-- they all look polished and give you a good sense of the environment. It's surprising the things they've accomplished with the HL engine, i've never seen it look as good as it does here. The missions aren't disappointing either. You do everything from shoot down an enemy helicopter from the back of a jeep to busting into a crack house. Like I said before, every mission has a huge amount of scripted sequences that help bring you into the action, your team mates and enemies help too with all the speech in the game. But this only goes so far, since they all pretty much sound like GI-Joe VA's with horrible accents. But that is a minor complaint.

Despite all of the flaws i've mentioned, this still makes for one hell of a game when put in the same boat as the other HL games. Most of all the game barely looks like it's using the engine thanks to the excellent models, texturing and detailed levels. And though the AI is shallow, there is some redemption with what they do with it-- the many different death and entrance sequences, and small touches like enemies flipping over tables to provide cover help make it much more interesting.

If valve calls this a bad game it is their own fault, they should have seen this coming. Because from what I see, Ritual did everything they could to give players an fulfilling gaming experience.

Sorry it's not written better. Feel free to delete if i'm going against the rules.
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