Shadow Ops Red Mercury - Xbox

With the world in such a terror crisis at the moment its not surprising that where movies don't dare to tread, videogames will happily wade in guns blazing. The latest First Person Shooter from Atari, tackles terrorism head-on as you play a gung-ho Special Forces operative battling it out against a range of bad guys across various war-torn hot spots around the world.

Emulating Novalogic's Black Hawk Down, the first mission is places you in the war-torn Somalian streets. No sooner has the opening cinematic movie sequence finished than you're taking enemy fire and running for cover. That pretty much sums up this game, plenty of action and having to think quickly on your feet.

To aid you along the way you have the rest of your elite team members although their AI is questionable at times. On a number of occasions we found them struggling to kill enemy soldiers less than six feet away. The Enemy AI fortunately isn't as bad and they will openly attack, aggressively most of the time, forcing you to make quick decisions or die. It certainly ups the ante of this game.

The main focus on within the game play is a lean and shoot manoeuvre. Similar to the arcade game Time Crisis where you had to push a pedal to peer around a corner, the same is apparent here. The move allows you to pick off the bad guys without too much risk to yourself as you cunningly hide behind a pillar. Just like in Time Crisis, the idea adds that Special Ops feel to the whole game and breaks it away from every other FPS currently on the console.

The game is broken down into 20 campaigns ranging from desert cityscapes to jungle scenery and be prepared to get used to every map in detail as there are no save options within each mission. While this draws out the game considerable it can be a tad annoying after time as you have to start right back from the beginning of the level every time. It's obvious to see why Atari has opted for this option, as the levels aren't particularly huge in the grander scale of things and didn't want quicksavers to get through the game too quickly, but a few Halo-style checkpoints would have been nice.

For the multiplayer fan, Shadow Ops offers a co-op feature so you and your mates can battle against the bad guys together or if you fall out you can simply turn on each other and fight four players on screen or eight players via system link. Failing that you can head over to Xbox Live and strut your stuff there as well. The game supports voice, very handy for devising squad based tactics or just heckling the opposition.

Graphics are what you would expect from a title of this nature, nothing mind-blowing, but nothing rubbish either and the use of THX sound throughout the game does add that little extra when explosions are going off all around you and of course if your speaker system is 5.1, you'll get the greatest benefit.

Verdict

Overall this is a good FPS shooter for the fan of the special ops genre. The lack of detail and options available may annoy the hardcore element, but for most the arcade approach with its lean and shoot manoeuvre mentality will appease. The lack of a save feature does add longevity to it all but only at the cost of perhaps annoying in the long run.


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