Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way

a game by Ripcord Games
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 8.7/10 - 3 votes
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Although we're still waiting patiently for this title to find a publisher, Spec Ops looks like it's turning out to be a military sim dream. Featuring real weapons and authentic tactics from the elite U.S. Rangers division of the Army, the game will send you on reconnaissance missions, search-and-destroy soirees, and rescue operations in an arcade-style, bullet-thumping, third-person view. Check out their website at www.zombie.com to see more screens and to download some Spec Ops sound bites. C'mon, Zombie--let us have it already!

Download Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Overview

How many times have we cried out in the midst of frantic Duking or Quaking, 'What is the meaning of all this senseless fragging?'? Finally, thanks to Ripcord Games' Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way, there is now a purpose, a mission, a goal to achieve instead of the mindless splatter-happy object of most action genre games. Other companies are following the lead with upcoming military first-person titles like Red Storm's Rainbow Six and Novalogic's Delta Force. Oh, and let's not forget reality as well. With increasing intolerance to the collateral damage of air-raids, commando-style attacks may well be used more often in the next century's world crises. Rangers are the most precise of surgical strikers.

You and your squad mate fight through five missions consisting of three to five phases in Russia, North Korea, Columbia, Honduras and Afghanistan. Through forests, jungles, cities and snow-covered mountains, the Ranger uses real life guns, grenades and other interesting weapons to achieve mission objectives. When the smoke clears, the player should have learned a little about how Rangers think and behave.

A review that highly praises the introductory videos is usually a bad sign. However, Spec Ops has some of the poshest videos I have ever seen in a game. With spy imagery and satellite photographs, each video gives a clear picture of what has transpired politically and militarily and how the Rangers are to react. They blend seamlessly with the missions. Nice.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

After getting comfortable with the various weapons, players must learn to use the GPS for navigation, check the radio for the next mission objective, and use the powerful night vision goggles. The lead Ranger can issue simple orders like 'Move up,'? or 'Follow me.'? Switching from one Ranger to the next can be accomplished easily. The player should learn how to take advantage of stealth by ducking, kneeling, and withholding fire until the right time. The player may choose from three difficulty levels and from several Rangers having different armament packages. I found most missions a bit difficult to complete even on the easy or 'Private'? level.

One neat feature that I have never seen before is the sniper scopes. Players can zoom in on targets with binoculars or fine tune their aim with a laser-like dot. The aiming yields a nice touch that allows for long distance kills.

One negative I noticed immediately was the Police Squad effect. Anyone remember watching Leslie Nielsen gunfight with bad guys on the comedy series, Police Squad? He and his adversary hid behind trash cans and fired vehemently at each other. When the camera panned away, the viewer realized that they were only about ten feet away from each other. That's exactly what happened when I met the first enemy soldier.

I found the time limit on each mission annoying. I admit that I could not finish several missions even by using the cheats because of the blasted timer. The hardest part of the learning curve was the controls, then understanding the parameters of each weapon. The game includes no multiplayer support, but it sure beats solitaire.

Graphics

Oh no, is my PC crashing again? No, it's rain! No, it's snow! Realistic snow flurries blew right at me and rain poured and poured. I doubt the postal service could deliver in such weather. Explosions created catchy lighting effects always leaving some type of post-detonation damage like charred earth, fire or fallen trees or buildings. Overall, the graphics struck me as one of the most intriguing aspects of the game. However, the game engine's interpretation of depth and height was not up to par with the typical action shooter. Objects like vehicles and aircraft sometimes didn't seem to hold their textures well. Object and corner textures sometimes bled into each other. In such areas my Ranger seemed to stumble or be unable to decide on what posture to assume.

Audio

I greatly appreciated the realistic screams, thuds, gunfire, and explosions. The sound effects sharply contrasted with the burlesque cacophonies of 3D action shooters. Lots of minute sounds that can sometimes put a game over the edge to greatness filled my ears. At one (of many) critical moments, I needed a satchel charge to blow an antenna. When I tried to switch to Ranger 2, my partner, I heard myself say 'It's all up to me.'? He had bought the farm.

A couple of times when feeling brave, I threw frag grenades or set satchel charges nearby and didn't hear explosions, but turned to see smoke and flames where the target had been. I concluded that my work was done. The serious and suspenseful theme music consisting of a snare drum march cadence with a synthesizer enhanced the mood. That's really good because the music can't be turned off.

System Requirements

Minimum: Pentium 166Mhz, 16 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM drive, 60 MB free hard drive space, DirectX compatible sound and video cards, Windows 95
Recommended: 3Dfx graphic accelerator card

Documentation

I certainly did not find anything missing in the 30 page (yes, spiral-bound) Ranger handbook that came with the game. It was refreshing to jump into a game without having to labor through 100 pages of technical specifications. I don't mind the minimalist approach to game manuals as long as everything the player needs is there.

Bottom Line

Spec Ops encapsulates some truly innovative ideas and gives us only a taste of what is to come. An innovative game with good graphics (especially if you have a 3Dfx card), Spec Ops will get your attention. But the game may not hold your attention unless you are an avowed military games enthusiast. Ripcord Games has at least established itself as a leader if not having actually created an action sub-genre. They have given us a respectable game that could have been a huge winner with a little more work.