|IGI2 : Covert Strike (2003) |
December 04, 2003
project IGI 2 covert strike
|by: jolion ( August 30, 2003 )
Good maps, and equipment
|» Pros|| |
Less noticeable bugs
|» Cons|| |
Tedious missions - just 3 saves
pretty DUMB AI
Project IGI 2: Covert Strike
|» Review|| |
I was going in…and…er
Released in late 2000 Project IGI: I'm Going in was among the first titles making news as a stealth-action combo. In the lead role is Dave Jones an ex-SAS soldier now employed by a top secret US agency concerned with recovering a stolen nuke.... stolen by whom? ruskies and co. (now where have I heard that before?).
It was not unnatural to get an eerie feeling of deja-vu 30 minutes into the game...... deja vu of what? The feeling you used to get while playing your favorite Montezuma in Atari, to die just before the boss level only to find out you have to play the whole game all over again. Save feature?.... what save feature? Sounds familiar? Remember the grueling hours you spent trying to figure out the best route to press some god forsaken button? Well things just got better! Project IGI 2 is out! Masochists willing to break their backs playing the same mission 40 times will love this one... Well not quite....
The newcomer has an improvement over IGI 1, unlike the absolutely NO save features within a mission, IGI 2 sports a 'useful' 3 in game saves. But this isn't any Montezuma jumping over skulls, you are the best of the best of the rest etc. all alone, and as usual walled up against a whole military. No points for guessing the main objective - diffuse a nuke. Darn! Not again!
I'm pretty sure this game would've been more popular had it used an unreal 2 engine, rather than making its own.
I would've liked to see per-pixel lighting, shadows that play a larger role in the gameplay, and I would've liked to shoot out lights. Things like normal mapping on the models would of course have been great, but optional.
The engine does however do a nice job when it comes to environment lighting, and Dave has a stencil buffer type shadow; at times looks far from a real shadow but better than nothing.
The texturing is done quite well; the textures being fairly sharp, colorful and seamlessly wrapped. The environments and objects like houses, towers etc look pretty good, but the interiors are somewhat repetitive.
A first-person shooter needs well-made characters, and in this case the enemies also look okay, although many things could've been done to make them even more realistic. In the cut scenes between the missions, Innerloop could've thrown in some more polygons so at least your superior who tells you about the missions would've looked a bit more human like.
Innerloop have done a pretty good job in the gunfire segment. The firing sounds had been recorded of the actual firearms used in the game. Few games can boast about a correct set of sound effects such as this, which says a lot in an age where there is a plethora of first-person shooters. The voice-overs in the cinematic sequences are also done pretty well, but lack of diversity may sometimes be quite nagging. While standing outside a building shooting stealthily (or so I thought) at the camera, the dudes inside started screaming 'grenade, grenade' at each other over and over and over and over again, till I got tired and had myself shot. New Spetsnaz commando technique? Works.
Speaking of lack of diversity, the music doesn't have many tracks, but what WAS included fits the game perfectly providing that stealth feeling.
IGI 2's premise works largely like the first game. At the beginning of a mission you're shown a cutscene that tells you about what, or who you're after. When inserted into your mission you're given a small number of weapons, and some gadgets that'll prove indispensable. David Jones can only carry one pistol, one main weapon (M16, MP5, etc), a few grenades, and a knife. The weapons you begin with usually work well in the particular mission, but you'll often find that swapping weapons with a fallen enemy can be useful.
David would have an awfully hard time if he only had his weapons, (Bad guys carry impressive weapons this time) and thanks to well spent taxation on government research you're given one pair of binoculars, with several degrees of zooming, a computer based map which lets you see everyone from space, (my Got!) and finally some form of binoculars that lets you see the thermal signature of enemies. All three of them are incredibly important, because timing something difficult gets substantially easier when you can learn the patrol route of your enemies without them having a clue of your whereabouts.
The regular binoculars are very nice because they let you see what angle a camera is facing, so you can easily sneak in and blow it to bits. The thermal "goggles" are great because they instantly show you where the enemies are located. Several of the missions take place during nighttime, so you're likely to use this gadget a lot. The downside is that you can't zoom with this one, so you're also likely to swap back and forth with the binoculars. Another of the major advantages of the thermal goggles is the fact that they can see through thin walls and ceilings, and when you're inside a wood structure you can fire at the baddies through the wood. You often begin with about 300 bullets, so you can in fact hide in a sneaky spot and fire through the walls at whatever enemies pass by.
Innerloop consulted with ex-SAS agent Chris Ryan, who during the course of the last several years has served Britain in the cold war and during other troublesome times. He assisted in shaping the "feel" of the game; how the weapons would look, sound and work, and the overall atmosphere of the game. In an interview he stated that when looking at the weapon in IGI 2 it doesn't get much more realistic.
Most of the weapons are precisely the ones used in SAS today, and they are quite fun to use.
When playing the game it's evident that realism is even more important in this iteration. David Jones can still handle a big spray of bullets, so it might have a tad of Quake in it, but then again anything else would've been just plain frustrating.
With the increased power of our PCs the game developers can afford to have more extensive AI routines. Innerloop had three years to update the fairly horrid "intelligence" of Project IGI, and they succeeded. The enemies can still at times hit you from far away, but now they work really well as a team, trying to flank you, throw grenades at you, and in general make your life as hard as possible. I still encountered bugs where the enemies simply wouldn't go to certain locations (where I happened to be hiding), but at least now they react when a teammate's head gets punctured by a bullet.
Not having multiplayer support was, also one of the problems with Project IGI. This time Innerloop wanted to do things right, and that's also one of the reasons why they had the extensive open multiplayer beta test. The final product works quite well, and should hopefully be a fully good alternative to Counter-Strike, even to some of the fanatics. The multiplayer mode has only support for team-based combat, and when creating a game you'll get to choose from five very diverse maps. Fighting on a tree-filled mountain one minute and then hopping over to a Chinese temple-town is quite fun, and with the extensive number of weapons you should have plenty to play around with. You should be able to download new maps at the official website, but I did hope they had support for more modes and bots.
I do wish I could brag endlessly about this game, but I can't. In most ways IGI 2 is a solid game, with no major downsides. It has decent graphics, decent sounds, good gameplay, and a well-shaped multiplayer mode. However, it is not very innovative. Perhaps in a few years we'll see a third game with top-notch graphics, more gameplay innovations maybe even some more multiplayer modes. (Wouldn't mind a couple of extra save games either… ahem). Until then you can have a lot of fun playing IGI 2, diffusing nukes and crawling around hostile spetsnaz et al.
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