OP15: Rising Threat is definitely missing a few pieces when it comes to user accessibility, but those who invest some time in this game will be rewarded.
OP15: Rising Threat, a new action game from Gosub 60, is a paean to the great overhead shooters of yesteryear, like Ikari Warriors, Commando, and perhaps even Bolo. Gosub 60's milieu is generally card and board games for the cell, so it's a little unexpected to see the company branch out to action so abruptly. Nevertheless, they've done a remarkably solid job here, packing a ton of content and special features into this engaging tour of duty. OP15: Rising Threat is definitely missing a few pieces when it comes to user accessibility, but those who invest some time in this game will be rewarded.
In the near-future world of OP15: Rising Threat, boring old deliberation, threat management, and diplomacy have been muscled out of the picture in favor of nigh-invincible supersoldiers. Your name is MC, and you are a member of the Peacekeepers, a brigade of scientifically enhanced operatives put together by Earth's leading nations to police the lawless portions of the globe. The rising threat in question this time around goes by the name of Commander Kahn, who is causing a bit of a stink on the island nation of Cyan by fooling around with chemical weapons and the like.
It falls to you to root Kahn out and restore Cyan to the brink of anarchy. You must conduct a series of one-man scalpel strikes against Kahn's rebellion over the course of 15 missions, which cover objectives like finding secret documents, blowing up factories, and defusing bombs. All the while, you have to keep MC breathing through a hail of mercenary bullets and shells, and on occasion, you also have to work under a time limit.
OP15: Rising Threat is probably one of the most difficult mobile games yet. Much of this challenge appears to be intentionally built into the game--but in other instances, the difficulty is due to poor design decisions that will leave you fuming in frustration. MC may be some sort of metahuman killing machine, but he's still woefully underequipped to deal with the kind of heat you'll encounter in this game. For example, your standard-issue rifle fires incredibly slowly, but many of the baddies you go up against shoot in bursts, move almost as fast as you, and can absorb several shots before dying. You can take a fair number of wounds, but you can also be overwhelmed very quickly by groups of enemies. Consequently, surviving OP15 is really a matter of learning to move erratically enough to dodge the CPU's weapons, returning fire only when you manage to build up a margin of error.
Until you learn how to do this reliably, you'll be dying constantly and restarting missions from scratch each time. On the bright side, OP15 is equipped with a very functional auto-aiming system that grants you the flexibility you need to dodge effectively. In addition, the game provides you with grenades and tanks to take out large numbers of enemies. Unfortunately, these weapons are not nearly as useful as they could be, because you have to manually aim both grenades and tank shells, exposing yourself to enemy fire in the process. Tanks are especially disappointing; enemies can reduce them to shrapnel with about a dozen shots, and, while you can run over baddies with them, it's very difficult to draw a bead on moving targets when they have guns. Overall, tanks and grenades are best used to blow up obstacles and preserve your health, not for regular combat.
There are also power-ups you can pick up along the way, including a spread gun, a machine gun, grenades, and health packs, but there aren't many of them and they don't do much to make your journey easier. You may pick up a spread shot, for instance, but you'll only get 10 shots at a time; you can also find special health canisters that will keep you from dying when your health runs out, but they are exceedingly rare. Compounding your difficulties, many of these power-ups are hidden underneath boulders and in buildings, and they can only be accessed with the aid of grenades or tanks. Some of the later levels literally feel like death marches, with caches of power-ups and groups of enemies. None of your objectives are ever particularly difficult, but simply proceeding through one of the game's enormous maps can be a real bear.
Nevertheless, when and if you pick up on how to stay alive, OP15: Rising Threat becomes a very interesting game. As previously mentioned, the game's levels are huge and are filled with terrain features, including rivers, buildings, trees, boulders, and lava. If you have enough explosives, you can blow up many of the game's structures to reveal new areas and items. It's incredibly cool to be able to control your environment, to some extent. In addition, the terrain is tactically significant. If you stay in a river without shooting, for instance, you can sneak past enemies on the banks. The story doesn't usually matter in action games like OP15, but the game's narrative is notable for its cohesion and detail, and it actually adds a lot to the gameplay experience. Finally, OP15 has no less than 15 cheat modes that you can unlock by beating levels very comprehensively. You can enable any combination of these cheats at any time, and some of them can spice up the basic run-and-shoot stuff by improving your weapons or turning rivers to ice. This is a neat idea for an action game; the trick is to actually get good enough at the game to unlock the cheats.
OP15: Rising Threat's graphics are quite good, even when running on low-end hardware like the LG VX4500. All of the models are sprite-based and highly detailed, and the game's environments look quite realistic. The game runs at a fairly slow pace on the VX4500, but much of this lassitude is due to the hardware's limitations, and the game is still very playable. OP15's sound is good, but not as comprehensive as one would like in an action game. There are nice effects for bullets and injury groans, but a you-hit-your-target sound and some music would have gone a long way.
In all, OP15: Rising Threat is a very ambitious, innovative title that many action gamers will love--but its very steep learning curve and daunting challenge level means that it definitely isn't for everyone. Considering the game's multitude of options and two additional difficulty levels, there are many, many hours of great action gameplay to be had here, if you can stomach the frustrating acclimation period. Gosub 60 included a nice tutorial, but it needed to complete its concessions to entry-level gamers by providing an easy scenario or difficulty level. This omission will prevent OP15 from being a smash hit, but it shouldn't prevent patient action fans from downloading this game.