|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Raven Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 29, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Its the height of the Cold War and a Stalin run Russia is beginning to believe that in order to compete with the United States, theyll need more than just their standard missiles and atomic bombs. Luckily for them, a new element was just discovered on the nearby island of Katorga-12 that seems to have some unusual, and potentially useful, properties.
With exclusive rights to the only known source of Element 99 (E99), Russia begins experimentations that should help to solidify the country as the worlds only major superpower. Then in 1955, while trying to speed up the completion of the E99 project, there was a mysterious accident that caused Katorga-12, and the E99 project, to be completely abandoned. However, fifty-five years later, a U.S. Special Forces team is sent in to investigate an unusual radiation surge coming from the island.
Playing as a member of this team, Nathaniel Renko, youre tasked with finding the source of the radiation, but missions such as these never seem to go entirely as planned. As you approach the island, a brilliant shockwave smashes into your helicopter, leaving you and the other survivors of the crash to deal with the odd occurrences that seem to be common nature on Katorga-12. What follows is an enjoyable first-person shooter (FPS) experience that will have you jumping back and forth between 1955 and the present in order to unravel the mysteries of Katorga-12, E99, and what has happened to the world since your unfortunate helicopter crash.
Starting out, there is a definite sense that you are incredibly underpowered and ill-equipped to handle what Katorga-12 is throwing at you. Making your way through a lengthy early portion of the game with only a weak pistol standing between you and several ghoulish experiments gone wrong certainly helps to hammer the feeling of helplessness home. Of course, as you continue, youll gain access to a host of stronger weapons, experimental firearms, and even a Time Manipulation Device (TMD) to help even the odds.
Your more conventional firearms will consist of a pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and a sniper rifle. Each of these feels much like youd expect and can also be upgraded in certain aspects of performance such as clip size, reload rate, and damage dealt using weapon technology found throughout the game. However, the real stars of your arsenal come from the experimental weapons youll find while trekking across the island. While youll get your hands on a massive chaingun that can quickly cut down waves of foes and a weapon that will shoot explosive spears into enemies, my favorite allows you to aim your shots even after theyve been fired. The Seeker is essentially your standard single-fire rifle that shoots explosive tipped rounds. Once a round has been fired, you are given a behind-the-bullet view and are able to maneuver it using the analog stick, weaving it between obstacles and around bends until finding your desired target.
The variety of weapons youll have access to help to showcase another interesting aspect of this game, its gore. While a game such as this doesnt need to have an over-the-top amount of mutilation or carnage, it can be entertaining from time to time. Shooting enemies will almost always result in a good amount of blood splatter, as well as some severed limbs or exploded heads, depending on your aim and weapon of choice. For instance, the explosive rounds from the Seeker will almost always blow limbs from your foes no matter where they land but shots from the pistol will be hard pressed to cause anything more than just death.
Further aiding you in your adventure is the TMD, an incredibly handy experimental device that does exactly as its name suggests, it manipulates time. The TMD isnt used for rewinding time to undo a mistake or for slow motion bullet firing as you might expect, given the previous uses of time manipulation in video games. Instead, players will use the TMD in a variety of different manners such as to discover clues about the story, age or revitalize objects in the world, and to open portals between the past and the present. While the TMD certainly has its offensive uses too, being used to catch and hurl grenades thrown by enemies and to turn soldiers into hunger-crazed mutants, its most invaluable purpose seemed to be manipulating the environment to solve puzzles and to reveal clues.