Without Warning Review / Preview for Xbox (XB)

Without Warning Review / Preview for Xbox (XB)

Without Warning is not without its faults but it offers a good deal of fun if not taken too seriously. I wouldn’t recommend anything but a rental on this game.

Without Warning is not without its novelty. The Timeline feature allows you to play as six different characters with events taking place at the same time but played from each perspective one mission at a time. It’s a unique concept that does have its merits but it doesn’t really take off. There is too much repetitiveness as you go past the same rooms, confront many of the same enemies and perform many of the same tasks. Although each character is different there is a lot of sameness to many of them.

Terrorists have taken over a chemical factory and are threatening the free world with an unprecedented ecological catastrophe. The facility housing the deadly chemicals also contains hostages which eliminates any bold military operations. A small, highly trained anti-terrorist squad is sent in to infiltrate the factory, eliminate the terrorists and free the hostages. You will play as various squad members as well as the hostages including a security guard and a secretary who only want to sneak out.

The focus of the gameplay is on shooting but you will encounter puzzling mini-games as well as elements of stealth as you try to sneak out of the chemical factory when playing as the secretary. The game does a good job of building suspense as characters are switched automatically at pivotal points in the gameplay. Certain actions performed as a different character will have repercussions when viewed from another characters’ perspective. The game could have gone deeper with this concept as it hints at things that should be elaborated on. I guess we’ll have to wait for the sequel to really get into things.

With shooting, stealth, bomb diffusing and lock picking it’s easy to see that this game was influenced by Splinter Cell and while certain elements do remind me of the adventures of Sam Fisher, the overall quality of this game is nowhere near the classic status of Splinter Cell.

Certain elements such as the lock-on targeting system and the camera angles are flawed. The voiceacting is below par and you are interrupted with various performance stats between missions. Characters spawn continually from small rooms like midgets at a circus coming out of a Volkswagen.

I have to give the developers credit for at least making the different rooms look different. It would have been so easy to go for that Doom-corridor effect. Considering that you have to go through most of the areas six times it could be so much more mundane if the environments were similar. There are offices, warehouses, labs, manufacturing areas and plenty of connecting grids and hallways. Despite the pervading darkness of the facility things are lit up fairly well. There’s not a lot of extraneous animation and as good as the environments look, the game feels empty and sterile when you’re not involved in a gunfight.

Without Warning could have been so much more. It focuses too much on the Timeline gimmick but doesn’t quite make it feel like a natural part of the gameplay. It reminds me of the early 3D movies where the objective was to tantalize the audience with 3D effects like a magician rather than incorporate the gimmick into a well-told story. Maybe the sequel will explore this feature in more depth. A well-developed multi-player mode utilizing the Timeline feature wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

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