Set in the year 2010, Soldner: Secret Wars puts the gamer in the shoes of a specialised solider fighting "secret wars" (as you may have guessed) for the world's powerhouse countries - wars that don't escalate into full blown attacks but rather, are dealt with early and quickly. While this sounds promising for the game's variation, unfortunately it is hard to look paste the terrible gameplay for this to ever eventuate.
Secret Wars has two modes on offer - single player, which is played in a campaign style, and multiplayer via LAN and Internet. Surprisingly enough, there seems to be quite a lot of servers available to play on, but seeing as most are hosted in Europe, gamers down here in Australia probably won't see much action online from Secret Wars.
The single player mode in Secret Wars really has to be one of the most rushed and "slapped together" modes I've ever encountered in a PC shooting game. Not only does the game neglect to introduce any sort of storyline whatsoever, it will also neglect to tell you what it is you're actually doing, and how you're meant to do it - that's right, there is no tutorial in sight, not even a quick dialog window to give you as little as a clue. It simply dumps you at a base camp and expects you to figure everything out for yourself. If you end up playing the game long enough after this point, you will probably figure out the game's structure, and it is rather confusing at the best of times. You walk up to a "terminal device" and choose which mission you wish to undergo, which are offered to you from various countries in the world such as the US and Russia.
The missions also suffer from the same rushed feel described above with the introduction to the single player mode. While some missions seem to be at least semi plausible in realism, others are just pathetic to put it generously - for instance, some "kill this man" missions make you travel 3KM to your target, who is standing there in complete sight from all 360 degrees with absolutely no backup or protection whatsoever, and after dealing with him, you'll have to travel back to your base, 3KM's away, and finish the mission - a mission 95% of which was spent traveling. What's odd is the target often seems ready for a fight - he has a gun drawn, he is pacing up around an area as if he's expecting an attack, and yet he stands there in plain sight with no one around to help protect him at all - someone inform the US....we may be giving Osama too much credit.
The AI in the game is dodgy to put it lightly. It seems, despite attempts at taking cover and stealth, most nearby CPU enemies will instantly realise your presence, which usually means robot like reactions with their attacks. However, this isn't always the case - sometimes they'll just freeze there looking at you and fire without considering taking any sort of cover themselves. Enemy vehicles have perhaps the weirdest reactions - let one know your presence and forget about finding cover and losing them. In fact, even if you go prone into the cover of lengthy grass and move around without popping your head up they'll know exactly where you are. This is fair enough - I'm sure a guy crawling in grass is still pretty visible from someone sitting up high in a vehicle, but the fact they drive circles around you rather than firing at you, in an attempt to squash you perhaps, is what makes it weird, not to mention the fact they often crash into trees and walls in the process.
And that about sums up the entire feel of the game - weird, rushed, dodgy and buggy. The engine feels like a product of the late 90's and fails to deliver in almost every aspect. The physics engine, for example, is perhaps the most problematic area. Driving in vehicles feels like an ice skating simulation and walking isn't much better; besides the fact it takes ages to get anywhere on foot, moving around in general feels equally as bland as driving. Possibly the strongest point about the engine is it handles First Person and Third Person views decently, as well as indoor environments, however these are hardly features to rave about.
Perhaps the sole highlight of the entire game is the fact it features a pretty decent collection of real world weaponry ranging from rifles to anti-armor and just about everything else in between, as well as other equipment such as a large range of body camo. On top of this, the environments are large with plenty of variety in terrain and density. If anything though, having such large environments only means longer load times and longer travel times that seem pointless, particularly in the case of the "alone and vulnerable internationally wanted man" missions mentioned a few paragraphs above.
Unfortunately, the game's lackluster quality doesn't stop at the graphics. Visuals appear rather dated with blurry textures at the highest possible settings along with basic models. Animations aren't much better, with most letting off a distinct "jittery" feel. As mentioned before, the game's engine is very patchy when it comes to physics so the controls, whilst mapped fine, feel unresponsive and "laggy" at times, even offline.
While the concept of Soldner: Secret Wars is valid, the execution ends up coming horribly short. There is really no single part of this game that stands out as impressive - from the drab visuals and animations to the incredibly rushed gameplay, there is really no reason at all to even give this game a second look. Sure, there is a nice selection of weapons and vehicles, but when using them is as painful as this, it becomes irrelevant. If you are looking to punish an adolescence for neglecting to finish homework or other household chores then forcing them to play this should set them straight quick smart, but otherwise, give it a miss.
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