Reviewed: March 11, 2008
First-Person Shooters are a sure bet for entertainment and hours of killing your friends via multiplayer to many of us gamers. However the market is often flooded with games that just donít seem to present anything new and fall into the ďBeen there done thatĒ rut that rears its ugly head ever so often.
As we all know, when it comes to games, itís always better to play with a friend. This has become not only a motto for several developers but almost a rule for any successful game on the market. Games like Rainbow Six Vegas, Gears of War and even Army of Two have taken co-op modes to a whole new level.
The folks over at Eidos and Pivotal Games have been involved in these types for a while now with the creation of Conflict: Desert Storm back in 2002. There have been 4 conflict titles that have hit the market and I had honestly almost forgotten about the seriesÖ that is until Conflict: Denied Ops for the Xbox 360 released this year.
You play as the two-man team of Lincoln Graves and Reggie Lang, a mix-match team if ever you saw one. The redneck Alaskan sniper and the Miami bred Heavy Gunner must stop a third world dictatorship from gaining nuclear weapons.
The interface of Conflict: Denied Ops is pretty much how I remember it from the days when I played it back on the original Xbox. The game screen is almost completely devoid of any icons, giving the player an uninhibited view. The character youíre controlling at the time is always shown in the upper left hand corner. There are various icons or windows that will appear on the screen at times but only for a short time. An example is your weapons window. This only shows up when you fire your weapon. This also shows how many rounds you have left at any given time.
The other two icons that are always present are the objective marker and your other agentís marker. That way you know where they are, at any given time. The only thing that I dislike personally is the objective marker. Sometimes it is no help at all. As long at the arrow in the marker is pointed up youíre on the right track.
Unlike all the other Conflict titles, this is the first title to only feature two main characters, where as there were 4 in all the previous ones. What this is translates into is: Fewer people, much harder game.
Like the previous titles, you are required to use each of the characterís strengths to your advantage. However it can prove fatal if you blow all caution to the wind and go in guns blazing. If your want that type of gameplay youíre looking in the wrong direction. If one of your agents gets stunned you have a certain time limit to get to his side and heal him. If you fail to do this before the time expires its mission over.
The controls are pretty easy to pick up on so picking up a game with a new player is pretty simple. Since you can only control one agent at a time you must tell the other one what to do. While the ordering commands are limited to like 3 choices, itís no Rainbow Six, but it does require you to actually think about how you are going to handle the next area.
One of the biggest complaints and groans out there is that your characters only have one main gun. Graves has a Sniper Rifle and a 9mm pistol and Lang has his Heavy Machine gun and a .50 caliber pistol. Eventually throughout the adventure you gain upgrades to your weapons and Lang gains a rocket launcher. I personally donít mind this as it is the whole point of this title. You HAVE to use these differences make your way through. It adds a real challenge to the experience. If youíre still complaining, you should just go play Call of Duty 4.
There are only a few things I can say that I didnít like about Denied Ops as fair as the gameplay is concerned. I normally play a game for the first time on Normal as I like a challenge. But Normal mode is ridiculous. I have never died so many times in my life on a video game. Now donít get me wrong, I finished the game, but I seriously wanted to chuck my controller out the window. Even on Co-Op itís insane.
I also donít like how I have to use night vision for over half the time I played. Sure some of the levels are really dark but I shouldnít have to use Night Vision in broad daylight to see an enemy. The only other thing that I donít like has to do with the online Co-Op mode. While playing online you have to hold down the LB button to talk. This is okay if youíre doing a 16 player team Deathmatch but not a 2 player online Co-Op Campaign. I seriously doubt the AI is using an eavesdropping device on our mikes.
The graphics of Conflict: Denied Ops are not perfect by any means. You receive a look that is early next-gen but all together not bad. The character models are a bit shiny giving the title a not so realistic look. The environments and landscapes are pretty good but the texturing of the architecture is a little lacking. The cut screens are fairly good, not over the top but they do their job nicely.
The sounds of Denied Ops are actually pretty decent. Donít expect an over the top soundtrack but Denied Ops excels in other areas as far as sound it concerned. The sounds of the explosions are pretty good, as they should be considering how much stuff there is to blow up. I also noticed things like the rattling of your characterís gear. You always know when a tank is coming both by its sound and the vibration of your controller. You can even hear the sound of broken glass crunching under your feet as you walk over it. The voice acting is pretty decent, not fantastic but decent enough. It's fun to hear the two agents bickering back and forth at each other between missions. The radio chatter when you trigger a LZ sequence or the likes is pretty good as well.
Conflict: Denied Ops is probably one of the toughest titles that Iíve played in quite some time. Playing the campaign alone will definitely will test your skills and your nerves that is for sure. While Denied Ops has a Single Player the real beauty of this title is the Co-Op mode.
You can play Co-Op via split-screen, system link, and over Xbox Live. There is also a multiplayer mode that features Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Conquest modes. However these modes are rather lacking with options. Conflict Denied Ops retails for $50 dollars. This may be a little high for what you are getting.
All in all, I was fairly impressed with Conflict: Denied Ops. Iíve always been a fan of the series and this one isnít any different. While the title lacks a certain quality that is normally associated with next-gen titles, I found that despite its few shortcomings it is a very enjoyable game for the most part. Darn you tank!!
If you are a fan of FPS title then this one is should be a welcome addition to your collection. Just because the characters have only one gun doesnít always mean the title sucks. This title is definitely not walk in the park. I would recommend buying this title if you are a FPS fan like me. If youíre still iffy you can download a free demo via Xbox Live to give it a try.