Tactical action games seem to be the in thing at the moment. Lead a squad, take out the enemy and party on to the next mission. That's originally what most people will think that Fire for Effect is about, but it's not. Although it does have tactical espionage style gameplay at times, it really focuses on action action and more action, and if that's all you want then this game should be on your list for 2005. Hip Games are doing a fairly impressive job with the title and we recently played a preview version of the game to see what they're up to.
The game revolves around the facet of Counter-Terrorism in terms of storyline and from what we've seen it is looking fairly cliche and weak, general standard stuff for a third person shooter set in a warzone. The CT Special Forces formed in 1980 with the co-ordination of the world's secret services has created a military division, and this is who you play as - either a Counter-Terrorist police style soldier or an army commando who just wants to blow stuff up. For years they have been trained on the Proteus Project, advanced AI which replicates what enemies would do in certain situations. Now it's time for the real thing with a true threat; like we said, full of cliche.
The game is played from a third person perspective and you will have two playable characters - a SWAT style cop and a commando unit which have two differing styles of play. The commando uses his environment to complete missions while the SWAT unit is equipped with the latest technology. It is this variety that will keep the game fresh in a genre which typically becomes repetitive rather quickly. The crux of the game is to eliminate enemies and solve a few puzzles and it doesn't get much more complex than that. However there are a few other things that mix the game up in its current form.
There are some vehicular based sections which are interesting and will also help to keep the game fresh. Vehicles range from Hovercraft through to Jeeps and Ski-Doos which gives a hint as to what type of levels you can expect to find in the final game. From what we have seen the Hovercraft looks to be quite powerful, covered in guns and played in an on rail sequence. There are also areas known as free fall where you drop from the sky quickly avoiding missiles and shooting down enemy weapons. This is one of the more unique modes for the game and it is something that really makes it stand out against other games of this style. The sequences task you with not only shooting, but controlling the free fall in a manner which allows you to shoot and move. Considering the imprecise control (due to the high wind pressure), it's not easy.
The game is also going to be somewhat realistic in terms of its weaponry and technology. While there are some things which are still in the fantasy realm for 2005, the developers have not brought something from millenniums away into the game. While the weaponry is unlicensed at this stage, the guns are fairly accurate in comparison to real gun such as the M4 colt and pistols. Each of the units has different weapons with unique weapons such as rocket launchers also on offer. Both Owl and Raptor have different weapon load outs, and you can use enemy weapons. The two can also use cover to their advantage, by crawling, ducking behind crates and leaning out from cover while shooting. Owl also has a number of technologies to employ with the suit such as thermal, motion detection while Raptor gains his power from electricity and here's a fantasy part, he gains his power back by being electrocuted .
The levels will also be set in a number of different locales ranging from boats, to jungles and even snow. During many areas there are destructible pieces such as gas tanks which can be used to the players advantage. The environments we have seen are not bland and really do offer some interesting gameplay. Some of them give a feeling of the Unreal engine which is not only impressive, but surprising. One thing we're not sure about in the current build though is the camera angle used for controlling the character. It's not above the shoulder, and it's not directly behind - it's sort of mid waist on the right, but the camera is controllable so it should not prove to be a major issue in the final build.
CT Special Forces is looking like it may be something unique in a style full of rehashed games. With unique missions and vehicles, plus two characters to play as, it could become one of the most action packed titles around. Look for it April.