I missed the boat on the first IGI, but I heard it was a
pretty cool game so I was pretty excited to receive IGI 2: Covert
Strike. I hadn't played a good tactical sneaker since, well,
Metal Gear Solid. At first glance, IGI 2 delivers
everything it promises. Large environments, intense tactical sneakery
(I'm George W. Bushing here (Yay. A political joke. I haven't
heard enough of those lately -ED)), and pretty graphics. I really
enjoyed the first few levels of the game, but after more play some
glaring problems surfaced. In the end, I gave up on the game out
because of some frustrating design decisions.
The basic premise to IGI
and IGI 2 is fairly straightforward. Your employers send
you into insanely dangerous situations alone, and they expect you
to come out alive and with your objective complete. Pretty typical
for a videogame, I'd say. I wish there was something of a training
ground or some way to get used to how the game works, because getting
thrown into the fire so quickly makes for a pretty harsh first couple
of games. After a bit of trial and error, I was able to successfully
sneak my way through most of the first couple levels. I had quite
a bit of fun in these early levels, there was just the right mix
of action and sneaking.
It wasn't until the third level that
the big problems started rearing their ugly head. At one point the
player is supposed to sneak into this house and steal some documents.
That's all well and good, I got all the way into the house, but
the room I needed to get into had a guard right on the other side
of the door. This particular guard had VERY GOOD hearing, and could
even hear me switch weapons on the other side of the door. There
is quite literally no way to get into this room without being seen.
The main problem here is if just one guard cries out a warning,
it quickly spreads throughout the entire base, and before you know
it the whole base is after you. Now this in and of itself is not
the problem. I like the realism that once alerted, guards for the
most part STAY alerted and continue to run around and look for the
intruder. My problem is with how they going about doing it, which
is to say: like retards. Take the previous example. I open the door,
the guard cries out (sniping him from outside doesn't work either,
he cries out as he dies, and you HAVE to get into that room), and
I quickly run to a small shadowy niche behind the stairs. And I
and wait. The guards run around, opening
doors, chucking grenades in (they seem to have unlimited grenades),
then leaving and not even bothering to check the room. I understand
AI is hard to program, but would a methodical room to room search
be so hard to program in? Sometimes they would just stand there,
chucking grenades into a room for no apparent reason. It was amusing
at first, but after a while I got bored. The guards are also pretty
stupid about bodies on the ground too. Sure, they'll freak out if
they find one, or ten, or 30, but will never put two and two together.
Once the alarm has been tripped, it's best to find a good spot to
snipe and wait until all the enemies wander by. At one point I had
a stack of 30 bodies in a certain hallway that was an obvious kill-zone,
and it stayed that way until all the enemies on that level were
dead. Not once did they figure it out. Of course, you're SUPPOSED
to not have to do that, and sneak past most of the enemies, but
from what I saw, that didn't seem possible.
By this point, my silenced pistol was
nearly out of ammo, which brings me to my biggest beef with IGI
2. The designers deliberately stack the odds against you in
unrealistic ways to make the game more challenging. One thing I
noticed early on when I ran out of ammo for my silence glock 18.
I had to switch to my unsilenced MP5A2. The first problem I realized
was that these guns use the same ammo, so I should be able to switch
out the THREE HUNDRED or so shots I have /w my mp5 into my Glock.
Grrr, annoying, but forgivable. Then I thought on it some more.
Wait a second, why did they give me this MP5 in the first place?
H&K makes a version of the MP5 that's the most silent submachine
gun in the world. The sound of the action cycling is louder than
the actual sound of the gun firing. Would a lone operative sneaking
his way into a highly fortified complex want a gun that's THAT silent,
has a large clip capacity, and is more accurate than a pistol? Of
course not! Using a silenced submachine gun must be unmanly or something,
Once I noticed that the designers were
giving the player poorly considered equipment, I started noticing
it a bunch more. It was the 4th and 5th missions where this came
to a head, and I realized this game was just retarded and not really
worth my time. Ironically, this was also the time Rainbow Six:
Raven Shield appeared at my doorstep, but I'll get to that in
a second. In the 4th mission, the good guys (or good guy, rather)
are dropped off via helicopter and sent out to blow up a bridge
before a convoy gets there. Oops, they forgot to give you the satchel
charges needed to blow said bridge. Hey, mistakes happen, right?
You can just sneak into that warehouse over there and steal some
(for some reason that warehouse had a ready supply of satchel charges),
then sneak over THERE and steal the detonators, because this patrol
is randomly carrying detonators for satchel charges that are back
at the warehouse. Don't ask why. This warehouse is surrounded by
hills and it's easy to get a clear view of the entire complex. Gee,
sure would be a great place to set up and snipe. Well, if they'd
given you a sniper rifle. Nope, you've got an M16 w/ a M203 grenade
launcher. Not a bad weapon by any means, just horrifically inappropriate
given your mission. This also irks me because even the standard
specops M16 comes with a mini-scope, but the one in the game is
infuriatingly without. Ironically, last mission they give you a
silenced PSG-1, which would have been PERFECT, but do they let you
pick your equipment before a mission? Of course not, that'd make
things far too easy.
After a few tries, I finally blow the
bridge and advance to the next mission. The next mission is to steal
something out of the now-delayed convoy, oh, and take out that APC
over there. That whole thing is not a problem, except for I don't
have any ammo left and this sniper rifle I'm carrying is completely
empty. Yes, there was a sniper rifle in the previous level, lying
out inside the complex for you to come up and take. I guess they
want you to WORK for your sniping pleasure. Well, I wasn't too worried
about ammo, as I'd killed tons of enemies in the last mission, their
guns are laying all over the place. I can also go back and pick
up my M16, right? No such luck. Even though the second part takes
place on the EXACT same map, the complex has been closed off and
all the bodies (and guns with them) have been removed. At this point,
I gave up and installed Raven Shield for a change of pace.
That's when it all fell apart. Raven
Shield was everything I wanted IGI 2 to be. Want a silencer?
Add one. Want a scope? Add one. The guns work the way they are supposed
to, and the missions are hard because they are well thought out,
not because they gave you the wrong tools for the job. Irony of
ironies, a satchel charge is standard issue for the demolitions
expert in Raven Shield. At that point I couldn't stand to
play IGI 2 anymore, not when I had a blatantly better-designed
game sitting in front of me.
The outdoor landscapes found in IGI 2 were certainly pleasing
to the eye, but not the best out there right now. I did like the
look of the game, though, especially the impressive maximum viewdistance.
It's possible to watch sentries from over a mile away. Occasionally
the landscape would flicker slightly as the polygonal seams would
show through, this was especially apparent in far-off mountain ranges,
but it never really bothered me.
All the weapon sound effects and other environmental sounds are
pretty much on par for this type of game. Footsteps make a nice
variety of sounds depending on walking speed and terrain, and guards
speak the language of the region, which is always a nice touch.
Standard FPS controls work well enough here. I never really had
any problems getting the character to do what I wanted, and the
physics of the game seemed fairly solid. If you've been playing
FPS's at all these past few years, you wont' have any problem picking
this one up.
I started out liking IGI 2 quite a bit, but the more I played,
and the more I thought about the absurdity of most of these situations,
it ended up leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I'm not a big fan
of designers shafting players because they can't make good AI and
well thought out missions. I understand a game is a game, which
is why I wasn't complaining that one bullet doesn't kill, but there
are limits to believability when it comes to real-world scenarios.
Maybe next time around we'll get options and fair situations instead
of the wrong equipment and a pat on the ass as we jump out of the
helicopter to certain death.