Sugar & Rockets



Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn Review

By: John Doe

Anyone feel like taking a train ride? How about a long train ride? Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn as you may have guessed from my delicious two sentence intro, takes place on, in and over a train, from start to finish. If you think that one location makes for a boring game, you obviously haven't played the game. There are a lot more factors than the train that make this game a yawn fest.


I'll say this right now: I can take Resident Evil style control in a Resident Evil game. I don't like it very much, but I'm used to it, and the pace of the RE series makes it work. If I play any other game that has RE style control, I get worried. And sure enough, my worrying has paid off. The control in Nuclear Dawn just doesn't cut it. It's just too clunky especially in the tight confines of the train environment. Even with the added functionality of a roll and crouch button and a 180 degree quick-turn, Jack Morton, NATO good guy, is at a disadvantage taking on the Knights of Apocalypse thanks to uncooperative camera angles.

The one good thing about the control is that Jack's weapon is always ready to go. He ain't taking any chances. However, this coupled with the crippling AI of the Knights, and an automatic cross-hair feature, take most of the challenge out of the game. What will challenge you, is the aforementioned camera angles that sometimes put enemies in positions that you just can't see. I liken this sort of gameplay (even in RE) where your onscreen character is obviously looking at the enemy, but you can't see him/it. Imagine a cartoon character that is reeling in a rope that is off-screen. He has no idea what he is reeling in until the angry bull is pulled on-screen for both you and he to see it. Now that's a funny visual gag, but it loses it's humor when you actually have to try and accomplish something while it's happening.

My other natural video game enemy is annoying back track puzzles like the seminal favorite: "Go to this area and find a key. Walk back 600 miles and open a door." I can't stand that formula anymore!! I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Kick the $%#@in door down!! Never mind the key!" Will we ever live to see a game that lets reality play a part? It's a door on a train, how hard can it be to hoof open? I know you'll say "But that is all part of the game". No it isn't. You're fooling yourself. That's what lengthens the gameplay, giving you the illusion you got your $60 worth. Sorry I don't buy it anymore. The Mario games never relied on nonsense like that, and those games took days to complete. Think of a game like a hotdog. The "find the key, item, whatever and use it way back in that area" is the filler inside a wiener. And you know how nutritious those are.

As previously mentioned, the confines of the Blue Harvest, the train that you are on, is extremely limiting. Video games were built on the notion of trying to get to the next level to see something cool, new and exciting. But when you are stuck on a train for the whole game, you know that you aren't going to see anything all that different. Of course you may not know that going in, but after awhile, it begins to dawn on you, that things aren't really changing.

Graphically the game looks good, with 3D modeled characters existing in real-time backgrounds. The environments themselves are actually quite impressive and are active with all kinds of visual animation such as doors, sparks, lights and other mechanics. The CG scenes are pretty poor however. They reminded me of the lifeless, almost scary, look that those good ol' boys from the Dukes of Hazzard had in their game.

If you are looking for survival horror without the horror (maybe you could count the faces in the CG scenes) and haven't had enough of backtracking all over a game looking for a key, then you might be in luck with this one. I would pass on this one however. An action game needs action controls like in Syphon Filter, plain and simple.






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