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Codename : Eagle Review

publisher: Take 2 Interactive
developer: Refraction Games
genre: Action Adventure

P200, 32MB RAM
ESRB rating: M

release date: Mar 31, 00
» All About Codename : Eagle on ActionTrip

Time Warps are often-discussed phenomena. Most people explain Time Warps as a time-continuum disturbance, which create crossroads in the course of history. When one event takes two separate courses of development it actually creates two parallel worlds with different future. Refraction Games used this idea to for the storyline of its Codename: Eagle --- the Russian emperor passed away in 1917 with some help from his son Peter. The new young and ambitious emperor Peter confiscates the whole powerful Russian metal industry and transforms it into a war machine with which he plans to take over the world. In response to that, the western countries unite in defense against Russian tanks and airplanes. The allies also founded a secret group named The Shadow Command,which helps the official armies by ways of diversion assassinations andespionage. The player becomes agent "Red" who is in charge of the most difficult assignments together with his friends "Goggles" and "Mortar". The game was obviously inspired by James Bond, Rambo and similar "kill'em-all" movies; it looks mostly like Mortyr (which is not too good) with some elements of Hidden & Dangerous in the briefings and mission concepts.

After quick installation and interesting intro, the player faces the main menu. The options are easily understandable and accessible. There is a relatively small number of options for adjusting the graphics quality. Both Glide and D3D are supported, but strangely enough, there is absolutely no support for A3D - a common feature in all new FPS games.

Before every mission the player may read a short story behind the mission, followed by a detailed briefing from the Shadow Command senior officer, who explains the main points of the mission in best British manner. The important locations are displayed on a 3D map just like in Hidden & Dangerous. Here, all similarity with the aforementioned game ceases, and disappointment comes.

The action takes place in open spaces, around various military camps and small villages. The graphics take us back to the ancient past of first 3D games. The objects consist of a small number of large polygons, the mountains look like pyramids, the horizon is far too close, the textures are in low resolution, very monotonous and spread on vast polygons, and better still, they are very badly connected. There are practically no light effects apart from a badly done lens flare. The explosions are good but too transparent. The weather effects aren't that bad. The lack of screen bobbing makes you feel you're sliding over a terrain that looks too artificial anyway. The trees look quite good from afar, but start looking worse as you approach them. The trees can be used for protection; even the leaves cannot be shot through.

The interesting background music improves the general impression. Like in Hidden & Dangerous, becoming orchestral music is following the action. The sound effects are mediocre but functional.

It seems that the programmers had a very bad opinion about the intelligence of Russian soldiers. There is almost no AI, and you will occasionally find yourself laughing at your enemies' reactions. The soldiers and dogs tend to run around without noticing or hero, or just stand and shoot in a random direction until you shoot them down. On the other hand, as soon as Red kills anyone, be it a completely unimportant peasant, miles from the enemy base and Red is disguised in a Russian soldier, all the Russians automatically recognize him as an intruder and open fire at him.

The rest of the gameplay features are somewhat lacking as well. Mission development reminds me of some ages-old arcade games. There is a number of operations you have to complete in fixed order like finding a Russian uniform, ID, some vodka for the driver whose truck you have to steal, and so on... The player has but two choices: to complete missions the way the programmers wanted him to, or just kill everyone, and finish the mission that way. Frequently, Red will have to cross vast areas to complete a task, and fortunately, he has a decent number of vehicles at his disposal. The most interesting thing about Codename: Eagle is the large number of vehicles available. Red can drive motorbikes, jeeps, trucks and airplanes. Ground vehicles are extremely unrealistic and very easy to use. For instance, you will easily perform powerslides on a motorbike with a sidecar. On the other hand, the airplane is very difficult to control. Just touching the controls induces severe turning, and it keeps loosing height no matter what you do. The way the plane bumps off a top of the mountain if you hit it will certainly make you laugh!

All of this affects gameplay immensely, so that it is very hard to really get into it. The atmosphere is just not good enough to make you start this game more than a couple of times. The quests do vary for stealing a project, to assassinations, but the missions are monotonous and mutually similar. The multiplayer mode offers DM (Death Match), CTF (Capture the Flag) and Team DM modes, but the game requires very high network speeds to be able to work at all. Every player has to have a CD in drive, and the battlefields are far too large, even for 16 play.

In a nutshell
Some ideas used here (especially the use of vehicles) might have provided a far better game. Unfortunately, publishing a half-assed product with poor graphics and lousy atmosphere blew this opportunity. I'm getting some strange flashbacks after playing this game... Mortyr anybody?


5.6   Okay

An interesting idea, the possibility to use various vehicles, low hardware requirements;

Outdated and lousy graphics, woeful AI, bereft of atmosphere.



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