By: Ramon V. on January 1, 2004
IO Interactive teaches gamers an alternate history lesson in which the Soviet Union won the Cold War and has continued to expand in power and influence since the end of World War II. The game developers show how to produce a solid squad-based shooters lacking faulty AI.
The Red Army has controlled locations as close to American shores as Mexico (where a Communist party wins a 1996 presidential election) and Cuba (where mid-range missiles have been installed). As Russian subs surface in the harbor and low flying drones circle the streets of Manhattan, now overrun by Russian ground troops, Christopher and Troy Stone make a plumbing house call for Isabella Angelina, the vociferous and sexy leader of a resistance organization that provides the American public with information about the Soviet evils. When the two plumbers realize that the apartment has been abandoned, Soviet troops knock the door down and enter guns waving. They capture Troy, and Christopher almost immediately hooks up with Isabella’s band of rebels. Welcome to the resistance and urban warfare.
Once players make a habit of hindering the spread of Soviet communism and completing objectives, Charima Level increases -- allowing Stone to recruit more men and to acquire more firepower. Providing medical attention to those wounded on the side of the streets will earn players Charisma Points, which helps to increase the Level (100 per level). Aiding downed Russian troops converts them into turncoats, as they follow the famed “Freedom Phantom” and abandon their brutal regime. Humorous Russian telecasts (anchored by a blonde Soviet bombshell) follow the high octane exploits of Chris Stone and provide comic relief to the block-by-block barbaric fire-fights that have consumed the city.
Save points during missions are found in the form of manholes. Stone also transports himself to various parts of the city or the current theater of operations (usually one of the boroughs of New York City) through the manholes as well. The rebel base is located in the sewers as well—Christopher will receive his orders from Isabella or other high ranking rebels and re-stock on weapons and ammunition. The map provides the layout of the area Chris and the rebels will be working in and objectives that are to be completed.
The combat is thoroughly enjoyable, consisting of fierce firefights in the New York metropolis. Players will battle Russian occupiers block for block, disabling heavy machine gun mounts or eliminating a sniper hindering a rebel advance’s success. Combat elevates to a point of frantic panic when 10 rebels, ill-equipped and ill numbered, try to capture or light up a heavily guarded Russian position with twice the number opposing them. It is actually quite a thrilling experience to rush out into the open only to be greeted by a symphonic fusillade of opposing fire and actually seeing what it means to be “pushed back” by enemy fire. It is even more gratifying to regroup your assault group to eliminate said position.
Players will rapidly tap the fire button to pepper their enemies with burst from weapons such as shotguns, revolvers, automatic pistols, AK-47s, sub-machine guns, and sniper rifles. Ammunition is well supplied -- all downed Russian occupiers cede a magazine or two of ammunition for the weapon they were carrying. The squad mechanics are effectively solid; rebel recruits do not get lost on the way to an objective or location you command them to tend to (command buttons are issued by the Square, Triangle, and Circle face buttons). Recruits fend for themselves and willingly throw themselves in the thick of the firefight, alleviating Chris of the macabre murdering duties in the name of liberty.
Frequent quick save points make difficult missions easier to cope with. However, therein lies a problem -- once Chris dies, the default option highlighted is RESTART LOCATION (not Load Quick Save). If in a careless rush a player taps the continue button, all progress saved is annulled, making it obligatory to repeat the level—a minor flaw players should be warned of.
Multiplayer is a simple 4 player mode of capture the flag, each captures bunkers to recruit forces to hold the flag the longest. It is definitely not the main aspect of the game, but it serves to squeeze a little more life out of the title.
Graphics: 7 Sound: 9 Gameplay: 9 Replay Value: 6 Ingenuity: 7
Overall Score: 8.5 (Great)
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