January 22, 2008
Right - before we go any further, there's something you should see. It's a video of Conflict: Denied Ops in action with some details from one of the game's designers, Terry Watts. Take a look and see what you think.
All done? It all sounds great in theory, doesn't it? Co-op play, guns, environment destruction, vehicles, explosions, team orders... so why has Conflict: Denied Ops left us so underwhelmed? It's the gameplay. That same gameplay we've seen a hundred times before. With so many shooters available, any new game really has to do something different to stand out and, although we've only been able to play unfinished code and so can't pass judgement on the quality of the final product, the build we played for a couple of hours adds nothing to the mix.
Its unique selling point is perhaps its biggest problem. Squad-based shooters rarely get it right, so cutting the 'squad' back to two men should be a good thing. The idea is that Lang is the heavy gunner and Graves is the sneaky sniper. But it doesn't quite play like that. Whoever gets the snipey end of the stick will often be wishing their standard-issue pistol wasn't the only weapon alternative. That's right, there are no weapon pick-ups here. No pinching a fallen enemy's machine gun - if you're the designated sniper, you have to be the sniper. All the while, your buddy gets to spray bullets like there's no tomorrow. It doesn't seem fair.
Do it right, however, and physically talk to your real-life companion about battlefield positions, and the game gets a lot better. The game is quite hard at present, even on normal difficulty, so success does feel like an achievement. But it also feels like hard work for much of the time.
Above: Sniping can be a lot of fun. But one player's got to play the whole game doing just that