IGI-2: Covert Strike
There Is a fine line between a first-person shooter that professes to require some stealthy involvement on the part of the player, and a first-person shooter that is simply way too hard to complete without spending most of it hightailing away from the enemy. The original Project IGI straddled that line effortlessly and though it was by way of its own marketing the PC's first 'thinker shooter', it was also a bloody hard game. Despite this, it is credited as being one of the PC's first stealth/action games, which is as meaningless as it is inaccurate. Nonetheless, the sequel is here and you will forgive me if I don't start cartwheeling naked about the place and whooping with joy (Forgive you? I’d rather you avoided doing so at all costs -Ed), but I'm not particularly impressed with it.
For those who missed the pioneering original, IGI2 sees the return of Dave Jones, an ex-SAS special forces operative who likes nothing better than to infiltrate terrorist bases on behalf of the Institute for Geotactical Intelligence (and you thought IGI meant something else). In this particular adventure Jones is chasing stolen computer chips across the world, a journey that begins in Russia and ends in China, via Libya, some 19 rather large missions later.
As in the first game, you work alone, which seeing as you're far from superhuman, requires you to remain undetected for as long as possible. Your most important bit of kit is the trusty Map Computer, which though unable to point out security cameras, is very capable at highlighting where the enemy patrols are. As well as binoculars, you have infrared goggles, which turn the enemy into bright yellow mannequins - and of course a healthy spread of weapons.
Technically speaking. IGI 2 is. as you would expect, quite a significant improvement on 2000’s Project IGI, and since I very much enjoyed the original game - despite its many shortcomings, you may think it strange that IGI 2 leaves me somewhat cold. The Al is markedly improved, the levels more varied in that they include North African settings as well as the relative drabness of Eastern Europe, the arsenal of weapons has of course been extended and there is even a full multiplayer mode where before there was none. You can even -get this - save the game during a mission. In fact, you could say developer Innerloop has very nearly fixed everything that was wrong with the original game.
Well, not quite everything. Again the graphics are most impressive when you stand atop a hill looking down into an enemy base and beyond, yet as in the original, the interiors are drab and empty. The characters, though considerably smarter than they were in the first game (which was pretty smart), are about as convincing in their movements as the cast of Thunderbirds.
So, What’s The Problem?
Since the original game, which was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air when it first arrived, many titles have furthered the concept of an action-based game where thought and careful planning are as important as firepower and itchy trigger fingers. With the exception of perhaps Soldier Of Fortune II, whose stealth-based missions are a bit of a cop-out, IGI 2 just feels like it has been left behind, not least by the recent camp spy sequel No One Lives Forever 2, a game far more sophisticated when it comes to sneaking around. Plus, you can climb through windows and hide dead bodies - prerequisite skills that IGI's returning hero has great difficulty with.
Perhaps the developers have been looking so hard at their own game that they failed to notice the competition creep up behind them. For as much as IGI 2 is a sequel, it also at times seems little more than an upgrade.
Igi Gets A Multiplayer Game At Last
IGI 2 doesn’t do indoors well, but its outdoor settings are well suited to online play, with hilltop bases overlooking deep river valleys. It looks wonderful. Of course being what you might call a sneak ’em up, there are many places to hide - too many in fact, making IGI 2 a pretty dull multiplayer game for action fans. The multiplayer mode closely mirrors the Counter-Strike template, with two sides either defending or attacking a series of mission objectives. Considering the variety of the terrain, the game manages to keep up with the online traffic rather well. The problem is there's nothing here that hasn't been done before. Quite frankly, we'd have much preferred a co-operative option for the single-player campaign.
Download IGI-2: Covert Strike
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
In the context of videogames, blowing stuff up can be fun; but at the same time, it can get old after a while. Sneaking around, clinging to the shadows, and sniping your foes can often be just as satisfying, but it can often suffer the same fate. Finding a balance between the two can be tricky, but once the medium is found, an extremely satisfying gaming experience results. Innerloop Studios and Codemasters released IGI: I'm Going In two years ago and it was met with mixed reviews, criticizing the faulty AI and overly ambitious difficulty. IGI 2: Covert Strike attempts to improve on it's predecessor's faults and be the next great stealth action game, but can IGI-2: CS be more than just another ho-hum espionage game in a crowded genre?
When I first started playing IGI-2: CS, I couldn' help but think, aven' I done this before ?_ borrows gameplay concepts from a variety of games to make one big hodgepodge of stealth action, but what makes IGI-2 refreshing is the mix of stealth and shoot em' up action, allowing you to approach missions a number of ways. Sadly, the stealth elements aren't anything more than crouching behind crates or shooting out security cameras -- it's a very dumbed-down stealth experience. Gamers expecting engrossing or deep stealth action might be in for a let down. Thankfully, the gun-toting side of the game fares a little better, although it's not without faults as well. It's frantic and intense, just as it should be, but the AI isn't all that bright -- well, when they aren't shooting at you that is. They're unusually good shots (probably to keep you moving around slyly) and being exposed to too much gunfire will often result in a quick death, but aside from that, the AI is just plain dumb. I can recall a few times where enemies just ran by me with their back turned after another enemy had already started shooting at me. You can even set up in a corner of a room occasionally and wait for enemies to walk right in, only to be mowed down on sight. AI problems are prevalent within the espionage section as well. Have you been briefly spotted by something? Just duck behind something and the guards will run around frantically, doing nothing in particular. Left dead bodies around? Don't worry, the guards won't notice them. While enemies do have their better moments, there's no denying the AI is extremely flawed.
IGI-2 won't turn many heads with its graphics, but it gets the job done. The most notable aspect is the sheer scope of the landscapes. When everything's seen in full view, it looks very impressive, as there's not a hint of fog to distort the distance. Everything else though is very average. Textures are unimpressive and the building structures are used frequently, which leads to a repetitive feel. Characters are blocky with choppy animations, and the shadows and lighting are very simplistic as well. Framerates hold up pretty well, but your mileage will vary depending on your machine's speed.
There isn't much in the way of sound either. The underlying music remains unobtrusive, allowing you to listen to your surroundings, but it's forgettable all the same. Sound effects are nice and have a realistic tone, but the voice acting is awful at times. It's further complicated by the fact that enemies like to yell the same redundant phrases. Constantly.
IGI-2 includes an online multiplayer mode that can be likened to Counter-Strike, but without the crowded servers and juvenile players. Each side is given objectives that they must complete while simultaneously defending their base from the other team. Everything works pretty well together, but some of the maps are too large for a game of this type. Also, there's not an over abundance of maps (6 total) although Codemasters has released a downloadable map, so hopefully the trend will continue. Regardless, the multiplayer mode helps irk out the replay tenfold -- especially since there's not much reason to come back to the single player missions once you're through even though the game is plenty long and hard.
While IGI-2: Covert Strike may not have the refined stealth elements of Splinter Cell or the same intelligent action of Halo, it blends the two half-way decently into an entertaining spectacle of espionage action. If you're looking for something new and original, this isn't it; but if you're looking for a challenging romp filled with (albeit flawed) espionage and first-person shooter action, then IGI 2: Covert Strike warrants a look.