XBOX REVIEW: CLASSIFIED: THE SENTINEL CRISIS

Extra! Extra!! Read all about it!! Classified is renter! by Cole Smith

April 24, 2006 - A budget title can sometimes give you good value for your dollar but some budget games have such little replay value that it doesn't make sense to purchase them. Such is the case with Classified: The Sentinel Crisis. It's at best an average shooter and it's short. There are no multi-player modes and no incentive to replay the entire game. Rental is the only option, and when sitting next to Halo 2 in the rental section of your local gaming store, at the same rental price, the reduced bargain price is a moot feature.

There are some things that this game does well but the main problems are that it's so predictable, repetitious, short and just not a whole lot of fun. The guns in the game are anemic. They give out more of "click" than a "bang." There's no recoil and very little feedback. Enemies die but it's like you shot them with a blow dart instead of an assault rifle. The feel just isn't there and for a first-person shooter, that's just unacceptable.

I see a lot of missed potential in games and it's really frustrating when the game is so close to being great but fails to bring it home. I can only speculate on why that happens. Sometimes the developers are too close to the game to look at it objectively. Testers/friends/family may be telling the developers what they want to hear. I get some very angry email when I don't like a game but I'm entitled to my opinion. Trust me, I want every game that I play to be amazing. That would make my life a hell of a lot better. So when I play a game that has great potential but failed to realize it, then I get pissed. Some games just don't stand a chance but they can be fun to play because of how bad they are. Classified isn't bad or good enough to be fun.

So what's the significance of the title? The Sentinel is actually a top-secret military experiment that involves elite soldiers trained to use the intelligent Sentinel suits and weapons which enhance their skills considerably. The suits not only provide armor in the form of a shield but they also have different visual systems running concurrently in addition to night vision capability and enemy sensing radar. The OIWC assault rifle is a technological marvel, at least in theory. It's a gun that can turn into a variety of weapons including a sniper rifle, shotgun and grenade launcher. It's a great idea to only have to carry around one gun, but it's not implemented very well. The Crisis part of the title refers to the kidnapping of the scientist responsible for the Sentinel technology. A dictator in the Balkans is attempting to force the scientist to reveal his technology so that he can use it for evil purposes. It's your job to travel to Eastern Europe, befriend the rebel faction and with the aid of your Sentinel suit and morphing assault rifle, free the scientist and save the Free World from the whims of a madman.

This premise sounds great. I would definitely want to play this game just based on that story overview - and how well it was written. The cutscenes are to the point. They get the job done by setting up each mission but we don't really get to know the characters in the game. The main character is only referred to as Sentinel 1. At least we don't get taken on a maudlin, emotional tangent that has nothing to do with the storyline. I want to get to know the characters but I don't want to have Sunday dinner at their home. The voiceacting and the dialog are decent - they could have been a lot worse so I'm giving credit where credit is due.

Where the game falls apart is in the combat department. You enter a large room, take cover, shoot at the swarm of enemies and move to the next safe haven. Repeat for each mission. Some elements of stealth, bomb planting, strategy and puzzle solving break up the monotony but these elements are few and far between. Not to mention that they aren't exactly fun.

Running and gunning is not much of an option. Too many enemies converge on your at one time. In the AI's defense, the enemy can be quite challenging. They will take cover and they have very good aim. They will even attempt to flush you out of your hiding spot if you begin to get too comfortable. There are some AI inconsistencies such as enemies that will stand around and not shoot but for the most part you'll be engaged in some very aggressive combat.

The assault rifle takes too long to morph. When you're in the middle of a battle and you have to wait a few seconds for your weapon to change, it can cost you dearly. The reason you'll want to change weapons in the middle of a fight is because you will eventually run out of ammo for some of the favored weapons. As I mentioned, the gun just doesn't feel right. The aiming is accurate but there just isn't enough visual and aural feedback to make it feel substantial.

During stealth missions you'll use the radar system to give you a general location of where the enemy is stationed. As long as you stay out of their line of sight you will go largely undetected. The night vision system overcompensates by bathing everything in a bright, white glow. It's as hard to see in this light as it is in the dark as it just obliterates all details. You'll be bumping around like a blind drunk either way.

Technically the game is sound. There are few bugs and no serious control issues. Everything works the way it should. The controls are responsive and relatively easy to learn. Graphically the game is dated. It's definitely not up to Xbox quality. This is definitely PS2 territory with low res textures and plain looking environments.

With no multi-player modes and no incentives to replay the single-person mode there's no real reason to purchase this game. If this game had been released in the 90s, it would have been highly recommended but we expect a lot more these days regardless of the price.


By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Classified: The Sentinel Crisis (Xbox)
2.6
Graphics
With low res textures and plain looking environments, this is not up to Xbox quality.
3.0

Control
Using the morphing assault rifle is like using a blow gun. It's just doesn't feel like it's got much power.

3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voiceacting and the writing is good. The sound effects are weak and the music has a generic quality to it.
2.5
Play Value
With lack of a multi-player mode, and no incentive to replay the single-player mode, once you've completed this short game you can forget all about it.
3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: Xbox
Dev: Torus
Pub: Global Star
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best