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CIA Operative: Solo Missions Review
developer: Trainwreck Studios
PII-300, 32MB RAM, 200MB HDD, 12X CD-ROM, 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: M
release date: May 2001
|» All About CIA Operative: Solo Missions on ActionTrip|
I blew it again... If I only knew that there could possibly be a game that could be finished in less time than WW2: Normandy I played this winter I sure would have used the stop-watch to measure it. Hey, what can I say; it's ValuSoft, folks! There was no more than half-an-hour to forty-five minutes from me first springing into action to the end sequence. It seems that the only long-lasting thing about this game is the installation procedure... Whatever, I mean no point in expecting too much from a budget title, right? CIA Operative is by no means a 'genuine' project. But hey, that's why they call it a "budget title", and the price tag reflects that fact.
I did always hate reviews which start with the reviewer describing how the installation went, how much time it spent on each CD, how quickly had the progress bar been moving and how he used that time to inspect the box, but I have no other option than to start off this way. The good thing was that I did not have to do too much disc switching, as the game takes only about 80 Megs on the CD (which is less than DX8.0 and GlSetup that ship on the same disc), but even those eighty Megs gave me a mighty hard time. First, before the installation it required me to reboot the computer, then it made me install GLSetup (which messed up my drivers) first, and then I had to loose a lot of time making the damn thing work by setting everything manually. Even though I did not have any of the undesirable versions of the Detonator driver, I had a lot of trouble making the game work on my GeForce 2. Finally, I only managed to make it work in a window, making it the first game after Minesweeper I played that way.
Now that I finished lamenting (ranting), let's say something about the game itself. CIA Operative: Solo Missions... well the title gives you a pretty good hint as to what the game is about. You assume the role of Jack Noel a CIS operative (fancy that), who has to eliminate several terrorist organizations that pose a threat to "world peace" and whatnot. And if I say again that it is a FPS you have a pretty clear picture how it all looks - an awkward mix of Soldier of Fortune and WW2: Normandy. It has all the stupidity of the basic concept and storyline of the first game and the complete lack of AI and few missions and weapons like the second one.
The 3D code in CIA Operative is relatively decent. It is not full of innovative technological perversities, but you could say that it highly resembles top quality engine from a couple of years ago. The objects, the low-res backgrounds in the distance and the few effects used reminded me of Half Life... Visually, the models, both your hand with weapons and the enemies, are the worst downside of the game. They have a low polygon count, simple textures, lack shadows, have pathetic animations (especially running and dieing). The 6 (and in capital letters - SIX) levels might pass as mediocre multiplayer maps, but as for single-player mode they are way too small, non-interactive (I used an elevator twice and all doors are locked in the game) and completely linear. You won't need more than seven to eight minutes to solve a map. Apart from this it mostly resembles Soldier of Fortune; as you first have to purge a subway station, and then move on to Russia, Bogotá and Iraq. The levels are full of civilians and there is a level where you are on a truck and being shot at which also reminded me of SoF, but you will hardly see as much violence and blood as you saw there.
The game features only three weapons: a handgun with a silencer, an automatic rifle (which resembles MP5 on the loading screens, but not in the game), and a sniper rifle. An odd knife, hand-grenade, flash-bang or a mine could have enriched this assortment, but unfortunately - they didn't... I liked the feel of shooting and recoil, but I do not know why they made the automatic rifle the weakest weapon. I did use it a lot, but that was more out of a habit than for practical reasons as it proved to be easier to shoot an opponent with the handgun than with careful burst-shots. It took me some time to get used to the sniper and its Quake-like zoom (it zooms in while you hold the zoom key and returns to normal when you release it). You have an unlimited amount of the handgun ammo, and the ammo for the other weapons can be collected from the enemy corpses.
The game has four levels of difficulty... easy, normal, hard and extreme. I never noticed a difference in AI, for that matter the only obvious difference was the amount of damage you suffer from a bullet. Whichever level of difficulty you select the game is easy. As usual, I started the game on normal level and managed to finish it in a short time without dieing. The extreme level makes things a bit harder but not too much. Apart from these modes you can also select the Bigfoot mode, in which all your opponents turn into Bigfoot. I have no clue as to why the developers decided to introduce this mode, but I can tell you that it is absolutely no fun fighting the unarmed oafs. The enemy Bigfoot or human behavior is utterly predictable. It mostly comes down to spotting you, and then moving slowly towards you whilst shooting.
The audio segment is mediocre too. The sounds are monotonous and less than interesting but the background music was pretty good. It (and probably only it) created an atmosphere of subtle suspense.
That's bout everything about this game. I mean, I kept reminding myself this is a budget title, but c'mon. Even the low price tag cannot justify the extreme lack of playing time, and some, really, really... ugh... you know... not-so-good design.
3.3 Don't Bother
Background music and... khmm, let me think... I like the FPS genre in general?
Only 6 missions and 3 weapons, AI, lack of multiplayer mode.
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