It's NOLF Lite, but the fizz has gone out of it.
Jiao wrote this review on .
The collective genius behind Cate Archer and the magnificent villains of H.A.R.M. have taken the hackneyed first-person formula of running about, pounding bullets into minion after generic minion… and done nothing much to improve it. Contract J.A.C.K. has the same glossy good looks as NOLF2, but pretty rendering aside, the levels are unimaginative and the action repetitive, to say the least. There are moments of dark deadpan comedy, but they do little to alleviate the tedium.
Touted as a prequel to NOLF2, the wafer-thin plot sees freelancer Jack recruited somewhat reluctantly into the ranks of H.A.R.M. and sent on a series of assignments to infiltrate, investigate and annihilate various enemy camps. This he does at such an efficient rate that all 10 single-player levels can be completed within the space of an afternoon. The superb NOLF A.I. is utterly squandered, as the relentless tide of goons Jack encounters merely charge stupidly towards him. Even the available weapons are a rather staid assortment.
There are scattered high-points to this otherwise unremarkable first-person shooter; these include a challenging lunar mission, which benefits greatly from flashes of the NOLF series’ characteristic good humour, and a climactic Mediterranean stand-off featuring antiquated cannons. The dastardly Dmitrij Volkov is a welcome addition to the cast of J.A.C.K., as is crazy Harij, one of the amusing peripheral characters featured in NOLF2.
The multiplayer experience is fun, although it’s freely available to download with NOLF2. Obligatory deathmatch and team competition modes are included, as well as a more innovative ‘Doomsday’ game in which opposing teams must race to gather and assemble components of a doomsday device that allows them to obliterate their rivals. The most interesting element of Contract J.A.C.K. is the development package included with the game; but again, this is obtainable at no cost from the Sierra website. It’s as if Monolith threw together Contract J.A.C.K. as an example of what can be achieved with a great toolkit and not much else, in the hope that someone out there will come up with something more enterprising.
If this was merely a one-off shoot ’em up, it would be justifiably disregarded by the world at large. But being tacked onto the dazzling NOLF series, with all the talent, care and affection that went into the preceding games, Contract J.A.C.K. is a considerable disappointment. This is NOLF Lite, but the fizz has gone out of it.