WARNING: SPOILERS are sprinkled liberally throughout this entire “review.” Actually, this is not really a review. What follow are the rantings of a First-Person-Shooter-Newbie.
Again, I warn you that SPOILERS appear from beginning to end within the mess of words that appear below.
This game has 7 single-player missions comprised of 26 levels. Each level has specific objectives that must be completed, and there are usually some optional secret areas and treasures that can be discovered. I admit that I only batted around .500, as far as discovering secret areas, but it sure was exhilarating each time I located one.
While I was somewhere in the middle of the second mission, I felt confident that this game would prove to be one of the better games I've played in several years. But my experience with the remainder of the game was not exactly what I expected…it was much, much better!
OK, I'm not going to go into detail about the graphics, sound, story, or objectives of the various missions. I'm just going to recount some of the more memorable moments I experienced. I'm not a writer/reviewer. I'm a gamer.
The first Mission-Ending-Boss that made me wonder if I would be able to continue appeared in Mission 5. He is called Das Uber Soldat. He fires lightening at you through a Tesla Gun, and its range is nearly inescapable. I tried to stay away from his lightening attacks, but at long range, his weaponry seemed to overpower mine. After dozens of failed attempts, I became desperate. I decided to stop trying to avoid him. As soon as the battle began, I ran to a table that had some protective armor, then made a beeline to The Super Soldier and blasted him with everything I had. Toe-to-toe, Joe, you know. I actually managed to take him down, but he killed me at the very same moment! As I read the on-screen message “Mission Failed”, I could see The Super Soldier also falling to his death. So close! But now I had some confidence. The next time I tried, I was slightly more precise, and The Super Soldier was slightly more unlucky. Immediately after he crumbled to the ground, I had to deal with around a half-dozen gun-toting scientists. When the mayhem was silenced, I had survived with 2 health points remaining. The game keeps track of the number of times you die during each level within each mission. I died 57 times during that final level in Mission 5. It was worth it. Kiss my bony behind Uber Soldat.
The final level in Mission 6 has you searching for a Ceremonial Site in a beautiful outdoor environment at night. There are plenty of enemies at ground level, but the only one that gave me fits was one that was high up on a hill hidden by fog, in a tough-to-locate sniper's position. And this sniper was incredibly accurate; I'd survive only around 5 or 6 seconds out in the open, before being blown back to the Load Game screen. I managed to sneak/run past the sniper (I thought). As I attempted to push forward toward the Ceremonial Site, I found that the sniper was again relentlessly pelting me. I also noticed that my health was low (15 points), as a result of all the sniper hits. I decided to try to duck my way back past the sniper to retrieve some Medical Kits that I had previously left behind (you can't carry surplus kits with you). I successfully managed to get back to the kits and thus boost my health back to 100 points. After getting past the sniper for a third time, I again tried to run along the only remaining unexplored area that I believed lead toward the Ceremonial Site. As before, it took the sniper only 5 or 6 seconds to put an end to my mission. At this point, I'm squirming in my seat, and uttering unmentionables to myself. I was desperate, yet again. Not a bad thing, though, because I seem to come up with some good ideas, when pushed. I remembered that I had a high-powered sniper rifle, complete with a night-vision scope. I whipped it out, turned on the night-vision scope, and before me appeared an incredible sight: I could clearly see the call-der-ackin-brass-a-frackin (hey, how's it going Yosemite Sam?) sniper perched on a platform that had been built into a hillside. I immediately pulled the trigger. With one silent shot, that previously unseen sniper-stinker was down…thud…flattened…pavement paint…eraser dust…BAY-BEE-DOLL! Let me tell you something – in my opinion, even Butter Pecan Ice Cream doesn't taste that sweet.
As I approached the bottom of a spiral staircase in one the levels in the final mission, I could hear something bouncing down them from above. Clunk, crack, clunk. Oh no! Someone must have tossed a grenade down the steps! I backed up. But there was no explosion. Clunk, crack, clunk. Something was still slowly coming down the spiral steps. I moved forward, and around the final turn of steps tumbled a severed head, which landed at my feet. I can't say that this scared me, but I can say that I found it immensely entertaining. That's not to say that this game did not scare me. In fact, when one enemy jumped through a glass window to attack me, I bit my tongue.
The final boss is a resurrected man-demon-thing, named Heinrich. In my opinion, this guy makes Diablo seem like ax-fodder, by comparison. Heinrich is the single most difficult opponent that I've faced in a computer game. If I had to defeat him again, I don't know that I could. This guy can take a licking and can eliminate you in a flash. After around 30 failed attempts to even scratch him, I wasn't sure if my personal record of never needing a cheat code to complete a game would remain intact. I'm amazed to say that my record is still intact. On my 36th attempt, I disintegrated Mr. Uber Meister, with a mere 7 health points remaining. I was as exhausted as I think I've ever been, due to a game. I'd say this final battle came dangerously close to crossing the line beyond satisfying, over to infuriating.
My goodness, what a fun time I had. As a gamer, I give it 99 out of 100. I have good reason to deduct one point. During the opening movie, Heinrich is confronted by a mage. Heinrich proudly boasts that the mage should know that he cannot be destroyed. In response, the mage casts a spell to imprison Heinrich; hey, if you can't beat them, imprison them. This opening scene is just an incredible way to begin the experience, and I had goose flesh. The problem is with the end-game battle. Why was I able to destroy Heinrich? I thought that it could not be done. Or, was Heinrich's boast during the opening movie simply not true? Or, maybe he isn't really destroyed? At any rate, this is not explained or addressed within the game. Since I thought that Heinrich could not be destroyed, this caused great complications for me, during the final battle. I kept trying to figure out some fancy trick to trap or imprison him, just as the mage had done. Of course, there are no fancy tricks that can be performed to defeat him. You must bludgeon him, until he explodes. That's fine, but I feel that the designers threw a red herring at me, which was simply unfair. Despite this odd end-game battle, which is primarily due to the misleading opening movie, I was thoroughly entertained, from start to finish.
Doug “Heinrich's Worst Nightmare” Millsap
Currently playing: Deus Ex; Bioscopia
Most recently completed: Creature Crunch; Guilty