Spec Ops: Covert Assault
"Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor and high 'esprit de corps' of the Rangers."
You command a two-man unit hand-picked from your team of specialists, in this third-person shooter that is designed to resemble a blend of Tomb Raider gameplay and the fast-paced action of first-person shooters.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Boy, I've never been so annoyed by a game in my life. The controls are clunky, the graphics aren't clean enough to distinguish moving threats from trees and bushes, and the artificial intelligence is helter-skelter and nonsensical.
Okay, let's start from the beginning. As I mentioned early, Spec Ops is designed to be a sort of Tomb Raider meets Quake -- unfortunately, this game takes the worst of both genres, first-person shooter and third-person shooter, and turns it into a confusing jumble.
I get the impression while playing the game that aiming at an enemy should be relatively easy, ala Tomb Raider, so the game only allows you to actually aim up and down or left to right by body movement. That should be fine, right? Wrong. In actuality the game's terrain consists of lots of neat rolling hills and mountains which make many of your shots too low or too high, and there's no way to adjust -- you just have to move. Imagine that instead of holding the gun, you actually have it jutting out of your chest. That's sort of how the game plays. Unfortunately, this lack of true aim is even more noticeable in Spec Ops than it would be in most games, because the game seems to rely on players being not only good shots, but shooting for the head or chest. It seems that enemies can take a number of hits at times, while other times they fall at the first shot. Keep in mind that where your shot lands is really out of your control for the most part. The same holds true for grenades; you have to practically toss one on an enemy's lap to kill him. And forget about any sort of cover distraction; there's no such thing.
Spec Ops does have a nice buddy feature. Before you start each mission you choose from one of five specialists: machine gunner, grenadier, recon/sniper, close quarter and rifleman. Each comes equipped with the appropriate gear, or if you want you can gear up each man to your own liking. During play you hold down the R2 button and use the shape buttons (circle, square, etc.) to issue basic commands. You can also swap between the two men, transferring your primary control from one to the other and allowing the computer to play your backup.
Unfortunately this buddy system relies on one of the game's other major faults -- its AI. The game's intelligence isn't just lacking, the true problem is that it doesn't seem to function at the same level for every game. There are times when your backup seems to play like a true gamer, while other times he just stands there and gets shot. The same is true of the enemies; at times they act with a level of true intelligence, but other times they let you walk right up to them.
Multiplayer relies on a horizontally split screen, which allows for gameplay that is a little more rewarding than single player mode, but still hampered by the game's overall faults. The ability to have two thinking players control your men makes the two-player mode almost worth playing as a single player. I tried it and it worked rather well; I just moved men up one at a time. One other drawback of the two-player mode is the size of the squished screen, which makes it even harder to spot the enemy.
Of all the faults I found while playing Spec Ops, the graphics had to be the most annoying. They are so muddied and muddled that it's often hard to spot the enemy, who happens to be all male and dressed in what appear to be '50s-era black suits.
The sound for the game was actually quite nice. Gunfire ricochets off metal, thuds into bodies and tears through the air near your head.
The game's instruction manual was about the same as most, but unfortunately the intricate controls of the game and confusing gameplay make more detailed instruction necessary. It might take a little playing around to figure out how the strange in-game map works or how to equip men and then get started.
There's nothing worse than a potentially great game that goes bad. Well, I guess getting lemon on a paper cut is worse, but that's beside the point. Spec Ops: Covert Assault could be a truly great game -- the two-player gameplay can be downright riveting, and despite all the flaws I detailed above I found myself going back to the game over and over. I guess the best we can hope for is a sequel that fixes the major issues, but keeps the intensity and interesting concept.
Download Spec Ops: Covert Assault
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP