Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror
After battling it out in the realism stakes with fellow UT mod Strike Force before adopting a slightly less realistic, but more action-packed stance, the graduation of Tactical Ops from freebie mod to commercial release certainly reflects its sheer quality. This latest patch - the 3.1.5 full release - puts the free mod on a par with the retail version of Assault On Terror, and the inclusion of the texture patch means that owners of both versions are now able to meet (and kill each other) online.
The terrorists versus Special Forces storyline will be familiar to Counter-Strike fans everywhere, and the range of weapons is similar too, with old favourites like the Desert Eagle, Beretta, Mossberg, H&K MP5, AK47, Steyr and PSG-1 all putting in an appearance. Coupled with the easy set-up and weapons purchase screens this makes for a very easy-to-get-into mod, and the inclusion of a desktop startup means no poncing around selecting the mod via UT either.
Comparisons with Counter-Strike are inevitable as the hostage rescue and bomb-planting/defusing scenarios are so well known, but here TO goes one step further by giving map designers more leeway in terms of storylines and objectives too.
With the fantastic UT engine behind it and top-class player models and maps, many players may well find they prefer Tactical Ops to the so-called 'brand leader'. This might be sacrilege to some, but with Half-Life-based games like CS so much the target of cheats, Tactical Ops makes an incredibly refreshing change. Plus the fact that you can play against bots is just another attraction, enabling you to finely hone your skills and familiarise yourself with maps without running up a monster phone bill. All in all, Tactical Ops is a superb mod, and although we've looked at it before, this latest version is a tour de force.
Download Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
It's a tough choice, we know. On the one hand you can dust off your copy of Unreal Tournament and install one of its most popular mods (cover mounted a couple of issues ago). On the other you could lay down two crisp tenners on your local shop's counter and get the standalone product. It boils down to this: do you want to be robbed blind or don't you?
Tactical Ops is no more than an average, watered-down and slightly more arcadey alternative to Counter-Strike, with the advantage of UTs bots to add some single-player action. But there's something extremely cynical and opportunistic about boxing it and putting it on the shelves. Sticking in some extra maps doesn't change the fact that you'll be playing exactly the same game that everyone who got it for free is playing. And how stupid will you feel when all your team-mates find out you've been suckered?
The premise of Tactical Ops is familiar enough: choose between terrorists and counterterrorists, buy your weapons, rescue the hostages, plant the bomb. There are a few new as. of course. You can collect drug packets for extra cash and pick up the wallets from fallen players, while the terrorists' voices have been given an insultingly stereotypical Hispanic accent. The fact remains that this is just a toned-down Counter-Strike rip-off, with none of OS's strategy or tense action. In a sense, it's the same old Unreal Tournament team deathmatch with realistic weapons, rather poor maps and standard military skins. There's no attempt at realism - except for the annoying, instagib-like death-by-bullet-grazing - and you can't even issue orders to your bots, which is something you could do in the original. Another thing: don't expect these bots to recreate any sort of online experience either.
They run to their target, shoot anything that stands in their way and get killed. That's about it.
Don't Be Stupid
Counter-Strike got away with being boxed-up for retail for the simple reason that it's a slice of gaming genius and it came bundled with several other mods. It's also a completely separate entity to Half-Ufe, it's the most popular online shooter ever and we bloody love it.
We can't even recommend the new maps from this boxed version, since they're mostly boxy, ugly and unbalanced affairs. And you can bet the TO online community - which is sizeable enough - won't be playing any of them.
If you don't own a copy of Unreal Tournament, here's what you should do. Buy it for a tenner, enjoy one of the best multiplayer shooters available and download (or install from our discs) dozens of free mods, one of which will probably be Tactical Ops.