Sometimes, the time is just right for certain ideas. Although Mercenary had been out since the mid-80s, its sequel Damocles as well as Midwinter had given a real push to the 3D military operation genre. Both received further sequels asentered the picture, offering something which wasn't quite that different. Although instead of the strategic roleplaying spin of or the slow-paced action adventure formula of the games, this one looks and plays rather like a spruced up Virus.
sends its super soldier on a scavenger hunt back and forth across the various islands of its game world. Given a final goal, getting there requires a number of steps to acquire additional pointers from informers, special items to use and to exchange etc. One task fulfilled sends you to the next one, rinse and repeat. Meaning it is essentially a James Bond movie reduced to its jetsetting action setpieces.
This action is quite elegantly handled. Bumping into any vehicle, the player jumps inside and takes control. Whether it is cars, speedboats or tanks, they all handle the same intuitive way. Only helicopters have a speciality in order to lift off and land. Nevertheless, there are pros and cons for each. Most strikingly, bicycles and surfboards may look like funny choices at first glance, but with heat seeking missiles flying very soon, they turn out to be quite useful after all.
As simplistic as the strict reading of the tasks may be (“go there, talk to man #1, follow his directions and destroy…”), the freedom given to the player to act within this world is noteworthy. Whether you rely on the military chopper's firepower or put on an enemy uniform to sneak around most of the posts is finally up to you. After all, anti-aircraft guns are quite defenseless against a guy with a stick of dynamite, for example.
This freedom comes at the cost of character, both regarding the emergent story and the people in the game. Everything and everyone stays overall faceless, reduced to their mechanical function. When one guy remarks being a “poor old man”, it is simply to be understood as a task to bribe him sufficiently until he discloses the vital piece of information he holds. There is no tangled web of social relations, organizations or anything of the kind.keeps everything on the surface.
While undeniably, the aforementioned other games offer more in terms of depth,excels in its immediacy. There is no learning curve to speak of. What is needed in terms of information can be noted inside the game itself; scribble down coordinates to meet someone and you can have this place displayed on the handy map. The graphical perspective may not be perfect for sniping or actually doing anything in “outward” direction, but a general abundance of resources more than mitigates this.
Finally, which of the games is “better” mostly depends on personal preference. Ironically, around the same time as, Flames of Freedom came out as well. It broke the more epic first down to smaller individual missions, much like second game mode. It also focussed the player on a single player character. Looks like those two simultaneous developments came to a convergence…