An over-the-top action sequence introduces you to the three playable characters of Winback 2: Project Poseidon, but the gameplay in this third-person shooter is much more traditional. What immediately distinguishes it from the rest of the crowd is its compelling use of alternating viewpoints, but some fumbling with the basics limits its potential.
Two officers take on each explosive situation simultaneously, though you'll play each in turn - meaning, you'll go through each level first as one character, then as the other. How you handle the first usually alters the environment in some way for the second. Take too long to perform an objective, and your alter ego could be left high and dry for too long to survive.
Moreover, because you also share health points, the surprisingly short length of each mission actually keeps your frustration from building as you learn enemy placement. The level designs run an uninspired gamut from an overly simplistic subway train to a needlessly mazelike enemy base, but at least they all exploit the teamwork element to varying degrees.
Lining up shots is pretty important, for better or worse; putting a round through a terrorist's skull takes him out of play, but drilling a hole in his gun arm will make him drop valuable ammo. Aiming from behind the edge of a wall, then popping out for the headshot lets you make the most of this system, although it's useless in the generic offline multiplayer modes. The timed grading system offers some replayability, but bleeds some fun from the tactical elements.
Although the third-person controls are reminiscent of other shooters, they're not quite as polished. Sometimes you'll find yourself struggling to spin around in time to avoid death in one of the frequent and difficult boss battles, or you'll get stuck crouched behind a crate with no aiming options at all. Even with umpteen corridors and doorways to maneuver through, there's no effective way to breach a room, leaving you to poke your head in and run away constantly. It's a shame, because control is crucial to your success, and only rote memorization acts as a balm.
Above: This guy, the first boss, is strangely immune to bullets most of the time
The presentation of Project Poseidon also leaves much to be desired, with awkward and simplistic texturing, not to mention some downright asinine vocals. Even younger gamers aren't likely to take a thug seriously if he taunts you for "hiding like a wussy." The basic gameplay wrapped inside these unpolished layers is still moderately amusing, even if the split-personality twists never quite lift the whole from the fray. Ultimately, armchair counterterrorist operatives should consider Winback 2 worth playing, but far from mandatory training.