Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn Hands-On
We recently got a previewable version of Activision's stealthy train adventure, and took it for a test drive. See what we thought.
When I first started playing Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn I got the impression that I had seen it before. Perhaps it's the plotline that's obviously been inspired by a few different action movies, or the fact that Love & Rockets used traditional action movie camerawork in their CG sequences that makes the opening movie seem so recycled. Fortunately, once I got past the intro I found the gameplay to be different enough from other walk-and-shoot games to keep me interested.
Like most person-with-gun 3d adventure games, you control the main character from an over-the shoulder perspective. You'll use the standard, 'up means go' control scheme, use the L2 and R2 buttons to roll left and right, and the L1 button to crouch. A unique feature to the control of Covert Ops is that you don't have to hold down any buttons to draw your weapon. If you're walking and you happen to be in range of an enemy, a targeting reticule will appear that tells you how good your chances of hitting your target are. You can choose to fire then, or keep moving. This flexible system allows you to move while you fire, and prevents you from being locked in a shooting stance.
You start the game out hanging on the side of the train (the helicopter you were riding in exploded). You'll have to pull yourself atop the train, shoot a few bad guys, and then find your way to the access hatch. From there you'll have to find a few objects, use them in the correct places, and eventually find the French Ambassador. From there things get crazy as you're forced to run to the other side of the train and rescue the Ambassador's family. But once you get there you learn that the Ambassador has been kidnapped again, and things just get more and more out of control.
This game definitely has a different feel from Metal Gear Solid. While you are sneaking around a train, there's really no complex stealth system. You can't back against walls and see around corners, and from what I saw you couldn't kill anyone silently. The only way to scope out an environment was to switch to this odd perspective and rotate the viewpoint around. The weird thing is that the perspective isn't that of your character or the camera - it's simply a defined point in every room. Like Metal Gear the game features a guard alert system - kill a guard and it goes on alert, with a timer that slowly counts down until the situation is clear - when guards stop actively looking for you and return to their normal routine. Unfortunately, this is a bit silly when you can't kill anyone silently. Hopefully there's a way to do it and I simply couldn't figure it out.
While Covert Ops isn't of the same caliber of the games it was inspired by, it's still fun and succeeded in drawing me into the action. Fans of stealthy action adventures should be excited about this one.
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