Silent Scope 2: Dark Silhouette
One part gasoline, two parts methane, one part nitroglycerine. Shake well. Throw on fire.
What you end up getting is a large fireball style explosion. A large, red, shiny fireball that lasts about five seconds. Do you get where I'm going with this?
With terrorists forcibly stealing an experimental VX gas rocket, the call goes out to the US Military to send in its contingency plan. It failed. As the member of the 2nd contingency plan, your job is to track down the terrorists, armed with a powerful sniper rifle and questionable partner.
Select your choice of two government-sponsored assassins, zoom in and take aim on the arcade hit. But does this home conversion live up to the fun original? Please read on.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
In SS2, you play one of two snipers who have been assigned to eliminate any and all terrorists involved with the theft of a weapon of mass destruction. The appeal to this game when it was in the arcade was the fact that you had this really cool looking sniper rifle that was pointed at the screen. Onlookers would see this sprawling location that had several indicators pointing to where the terrorists were. The player, however, would look through the scope on the rifle which was really a small screen zoomed in on the terrorists that onlookers couldn't see. From there, the player could pick off bad guys at distances up to 800 yards or better. It was a really cool idea that many a gamer plunked money into.
Now, we have powerful home machines that can match graphics but we don't have the rifle. 90% of the fun in the arcade was that really kick-ass rifle. Here, on the PS2, the rifle is achingly missing and I find myself controlling this scope and crosshair that pans slooooooowly across the screen.
Unlike the arcade version, this version includes four modes of play: story mode, the shooting range, duel and original. The first is story mode and that is arguably the best mode. Players pick their assassin and play the game through the eyes of their character. You must kill the terrorists in an allotted time before a) they shoot you or b) the clock counts down to zero, in which case the game is over. Each time you stop a terrorist in his tracks, more time is added to the game clock. Occasionally a hostage will pop up and give you extra health or extra time, that is, unless you shoot them. There is a life meter in the upper right hand of the screen that indicates how much life the player has left. Now, when taking out the terrorists, I feel it's important to mention exactly how poorly this was done. If you shoot a terrorist in the foot, he'll die. If you shoot one in the head, he'll die too. The problem is, the two 'dead' guys were affected in the same way. Shot placement should have been stressed and reinforced by enemies shooting at you immediately if they were shot in a non-terminal location. It was a disappointing glitch.
For replayability reasons, playing as the other assassin once you have completed the game as the first will allow for a different perspective and different occurrences. Also, at certain points during the game you are allowed multiple paths, which also add to the replay ability. The story is painfully cliché and the cut-scenes that occur throughout will almost make you want to cry with the migraine inducing dialogue. It should also be noted that two players can play the story mode, with help from the I-Link connector but I'll talk about that more later.
The shooting range is just that, players get to practice their abilities in a less stressful environment. New players or those with nothing else to do will want to give this a whirl.
The duel mode is the most fascinating one of the four. If you have a friend with another PS2 and another copy of Silent Scope 2 (I'm sorry), you can rig the two together using the USB I-Link connector and actually duel on two different TVs. It's kind of a simplified version of playing LAN games against other computer players. Only, obviously, you're playing on PS2s. Sadly, I could not find another person to do this with. And in all honesty, I don't know if it would have improved my opinion of the game.
Finally, the fourth mode is the direct arcade translation of Silent Scope 2. It is similar to the story mode but you can now select your mission and difficulty. Whoop de doo.
Of course there are variables and hidden things to find and unlock, but to be perfectly honest with you, I beat this game's story mode in roughly a half an hour. There are differing paths each of the two sniper characters can take and I handily beat the game again using the second character.
It's an easy game, both control wise and difficulty. You control the scope with the left analog stick while the X button is used to fire. Holding down the O button turns the scope off allowing you to move the cursor around the screen much more quickly. So there you have it, the winning strategy for defeating SS2. Additionally, I discovered that you can plug in a USB mouse and play with that if you so choose to.
I did just that for reviewing sake but could not really decide whether the controls were better, more like, the same. So I chose to stay with the controller and forego the mouse approach. I will say this. Veterans of first person shooters on the PC, will find using the mouse much more effective. Other gamers will find the controller adequate.
I spoke briefly before about using a type of link cable. This can be done in a versus style match or a co-op match designed to complete the game with both players, taking on the roles of Jackal Sniper and Falcon Sniper (who thinks of this stuff?) and completing the game by beating the varying characters simultaneously. Sad that I have been praying for someone to implement the link cable on one of the many cool two player games recently released, and we finally get it on a game that can be beat in 22 minutes.
While the locales are somewhat inspired (London Bridge or a circus-type setting) the action of the terrorists is methodical to the point of being robot-stupid. You can shoot one bad guy while his buddy walks four feet from him not noticing a thing. They look and act like mannequins -- it's pretty sad. As for the sniper scope interface; again, uninspired. Little arrows pop up in the scope indicating which direction you need to look in order to get an enemy in your sights. Bosses, provide some levity with their varying weapons and different look, but I am hard pressed to find anything that looked even remotely impressive. I was let down by the games graphics because I know what the PS2 is capable of.
In this game, one sniper actually says, 'Let's play Metal Gear for real!'? And he says this as he and his partner are about to go killing many, many people. I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain the psychological profile of someone who uses an assassin's weapon for a living, has no sense of humor, much less right before a mission. The voice acting was atrocious and the game's music never seemed to set the right tone for the subject matter.
If you absolutely loved the arcade version, don't buy this game. You will be so disappointed that you will want to skeet shoot the disc itself. Hardcore 'gun'? gamers will also be disappointed, as the game itself is not very long nor is the interface much fun. A poor choice for translation. The only glimmer of a redeeming quality is the fact that you can finally use the I-Link cable. Too bad it's on this game.