Even good games usually put the design credits at the end, or at least place them in a separate option off the main menu. ValuSoft's new budget-priced first-person shooter, Navy SEALs: Weapons of Mass Destruction, lists the developers' names front and center during a movielike credit sequence that plays during the opening cutscene. It's hard to imagine that anyone would want his or her name prominently displayed on such an abysmal game, especially one whose only distinguishing feature is that it's actually even worse than the awful game that preceded it, a contender for worst game of last year, Elite Forces: Navy SEALs.
The game takes place across nine virtually plot-free levels in three global hotspots. The first six levels require you to shoot the living daylights out of some stuff in Iraq and North Korea. Rather than go for the logical axis-of-evil triad and set a few levels in Iran, the last three missions take place in Pakistan, a country of as-yet-un-quantified evil, though people sometimes confuse it with Iraq, which may explain why it was included here. Apparently, in order to get the game onto shelves while its subject matter was still topical, some features were cut. In alphabetical order, these are: gameplay, graphics, and sound.
As it turns out, missions that actually work were apparently another feature that had to be cut from the game. We were forced to restart one of the Iraq levels a few times because we managed to break the game's scripting in such a way that the mission became unbeatable. Later, we had to restart the third North Korean level a few times because of what appeared to be another scripting problem. In fact, we never managed to get through this mission. Because of this, we never saw any of the Pakistan levels. Based on the available evidence--Weapons of Mass Destruction's awful first six levels and the abysmal entirety of the original Navy SEALs--we're guessing that the parts of the game that take place in Pakistan also really, really stink.
The game's box urges you to "exploit your enemy's weaknesses." If you had to pick just one weakness to exploit, it would have to be absolutely everything that your enemies do. Even by the low standards set by the worst first-person shooters in history, the enemy AI in Navy SEALs is bad. Enemy soldiers will stand around while the guy right next to them dies screaming in a hail of bullets. Then they'll stand around while they get shot. Sometimes they'll run from cover to open ground where they'll stop and wait for you to shoot them.
A computer-controlled teammate accompanies you through each of the missions we played. His AI isn't any better than the enemy's. Frequently, he'll run right up to an opposing soldier, at which point they'll both decide to go on break and proceed to stand around doing nothing. He'll also mysteriously disappear only to reappear somewhere ahead of you. In tight quarters, he'll sometimes push you right through closed doors.
In addition, the game's environments are bland and sparsely populated. Thanks to ugly, simple, and repetitive textures, they're also monotonous. The developer apparently cut every graphical corner it possibly could, short of setting each level on a completely featureless flatland. For instance, in one mission, you have to find a pair of soldiers being held in an Iraqi prison. When you finally run across them, each one is simply your teammate model with the gun geometry missing; they're standing in place pointing an invisible weapon at the wall. One level that takes place on a ship eliminates the need for a sky texture by simply making everything over the boat's rail completely black.
The sound falls into three categories: missing, forgettable, and miscued. When you kill an enemy, his dying scream lasts several seconds past the end his death animation. We didn't hear any music while playing the game, which means either that there is no music or that the music is broken. However, there's no such mystery about a multiplayer mode. Presumably on purpose, there isn't one.
According to the box, the game is "not approved, endorsed, or authorized by the United States Government." It is our patriotic duty to announce that the game isn't approved or endorsed by GameSpot, either.