Conflict: Denied OpsESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer: Pivotal Games
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
2 Player Cooperative Play (offline or online)
System Link (2-16 Players)
2-16 Player Online Multiplayer
Anyone who loves action or shooter games should instantly recognize the “Conflict” series of videogames. Conflict: Denied Ops, published by Eidos Interactive, is the fifth and latest game in the series. The military based “Conflict” games have been around for awhile now and the this newest installment should be something that fans of the series see evolving, however this is not the case. That being said, for gamers looking for simple romp while blowing up items and killing bad buys, well then this game may just be for you.
Visually, Conflict: Denied Ops is not that bad of a looking game, it is just that it is not a great one either. Given that the latest crop of games that have been released for the Xbox 360 are 3rd generation, the expectations for visuals are quite high. With such games as Call of Duty 4, Bioshock and Halo 3 to name a few, people have come to expect some great looking titles. The graphics engine employed for Conflict: Denied Ops is solid, and it can provide for some pretty cool looking explosions and locales, but it just doesn’t do anything to take the visuals over the top. There is ample use of solid textures, lighting and such, but at the end of the day you will come away thinking that this game looks like so many other games that have come before it and that it doesn’t reach the bar set by all the visually appealing games that have recently been released. As well, I thought that I should note that the game seems a little too dark for my tastes. It is as if the color palette seems a little muted and I found that I had to adjust the brightness now and then. I don’t know if this was intentional or just due to the hardware given that the game is released on the 360, PS3 and PC all at once. Bottomline, the game isn’t that bad, but just don’t expect to be “wowed” by what you see on screen.
The audio in Conflict: Denied Ops is very much a hit and miss affair. The biggest disappointment I had was with the voice acting, which in a game with two main characters who have to go through the whole game together, is somewhat important. First off, what the heck is with all the echoing that occurs during the dialog? Graves and Lang sound like they are in an empty high school hallway as their voices just wildly echo throughout. This was quite an annoyance for me and I am sure that a lot of people who play this game will no doubt agree with me. The second point I have about the voice acting is the stereotyped talk that these two characters utter. I mean really, sure they are two well trained covert agents, but man do they have to talk like they are two college meatheads out on the town looking for trouble. There is only so many times that I can hear the same banter followed by “bro” or “motherf----r”. I mean really, although the game is saddled with a mature rating, and the dialog reflects such, make it meaningful.
As for the rest of the sound effects, everything else manages to get the job done solidly, but just not amazingly so. The explosions have a nice boom to them, weapons manage to sound different, and vehicles sound like they should, but if I was left with any one thought it was that they these sound effects managed to do their job as they should while meeting the minimum expectations one may have.
The story in Conflict: Denied Ops follows covert special-op agents Graves and Lang. They traverse the globe in an effort to unravel and stop a nuclear-arms plot that spans over 10 missions. It is a simple story that pits you and your teammate against some terrorist organization hell bent on throwing out some smack down on the world. You’ll travel to such locales as South America, Africa and Siberia to name a few.
As I played through the game I just couldn’t help but cringe at the stereo typical characters and somewhat standard gameplay concepts.
First off you have Lang, a “still wet behind the ears” afro-American machine gun tottin’ mofo recruit who loves to try to be hip. Then you have have Graves, a Caucasian sniper rifle carrying grizzled vet who really doesn’t have a lot of time for his rookie partner. Their interactions can be corny and they just don’t seem to add to the overall feel of the game. Don’t get me wrong they are ok, but just don’t expect any revelations from either of these two.
As for the missions, you better not expect anything innovative or ground breaking from Conflict: Denied Ops. It is pretty much straight forward in each mission as you kill a lot of bad guys, make a lot of things go “boom” and fight to get to the end of each level. You will find a lot of barrels to shoot in the various levels, weapons to disarm (e.g. nuclear) and LZ’s that must be cleared in order for you to advance to the next area. During these stages you can switch from Graves to Lang and back again with ease and doing so adds a bit to the game as you can choose to just rip it up with a machine gun or take out the enemies one by one with the sniper rifle. The latter has its own issues that I discuss later on in this section. You can also order your partner around to do some dirty work for you should you desire to just kick back and let some carnage unfold in front of you.
As for the enemy AI that you face in each level, it too is basically straight forward. Enemies manage to fire at you, but they aren’t nearly as smart as enemies I have come across in other FPS games that already populate the 360’s catalog of games. They try to add some challenge and adversity to your adventure; however they just don’t feel nearly as engaging as I would have hoped. Don’t get me wrong, they do provide something of a challenge but given what my expectations are nowadays, especially after playing so many other games of this nature, it wasn’t what I had hoped for.
Something that is also worth mentioning is that you can get into various vehicles found in the game; however this is not nearly as engrossing as I anticipated. Sure, you can get into a hovercraft or whatever else you come across, but this experience is short lived as it is not a big part of the game so the developers didn’t flush out this aspect that much as each driving experience is over very quickly.
If there is any major complaint that I really have about this game, I would have to say that it is control that makes me the weariest. It is as if the control is somewhat laggy or slow and even jittery, especially when taking control of Graves and his sniper rifle. I found that when I was aiming down the scope that it took quite a bit of time to hone in on my target, especially using the sniper rifle. At times I felt that it was pretty much impossible to line up a long distance head shot, and many times during my attempts to aim I found myself getting peppered with bullets from bad guys who were quick drawing and quite accurate in their shots. I found that this main control issue caused me to use Lang and his machine gun much more often then I really wanted too as I could spray and pray my way through some of the craziness and allow my AI partner to show much more accurateness in his sniper shooting skills. That being said, when I did switch to Graves, and managed a few head shots from a distance, the feeling of satisfaction was quite evident and it was nice to do.
Conflict: Denied Ops does offer some multiplayer madness, both offline and online. First off you can play through the single player story cooperatively with another friend splitscreen, and should you desire you can do so over XBOX Live too. This is a feature that I am a huge fan off. Being able to play the game cooperatively over XBOX Live is a huge selling point as I don’t always have a friend sitting beside me. As well, playing through a game cooperatively is much more enjoyable given that you can share the experience of the story while also chuckling at how you just took out a group of enemies with a single grenade. Even in a game that is so cookie-cutter like, the cooperative play over XBOX Live makes it that much more enjoyable. Of course there are also adversarial modes in Conflict: Denied Ops, but they are quite limited and very generic. They can be played on XBOX Live or via system link. You will find that you can play in a standard deathmatch, team deathmatch and conquest. These modes have been done to death. That being said there is a relatively good, but not large, following of people playing this game online and those few matches that I did play managed to run relatively smooth with no major issues to be had. I am quite interested to see what DLC becomes available to this game and it is my hope that along with a few new levels that the developers add a few new play modes into the mix.
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