GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Field Ops Updated Hands-On

As Digital Reality's FPS/RTS game nears completion, we take a look at one of the early levels to see how the action blend is shaping up.


In our first look at Field Ops since the Games Convention in Leipzig last year, we were keen to see how the balance between the game's first-person-shooter and real-time-strategy elements were developing. The game is due to ship a little later this year, and we spent some time on one of the early levels, set in Santiago de Cuba.

In this game, you can rain down death upon your enemies while watching from above...
In this game, you can rain down death upon your enemies while watching from above...

The story goes that a failed coup d'etat on the island has split the country in two, and Santiago de Cuba has become the new base for the rebels. Our task in the mission was to head over to a checkpoint outside a ruined church and sit tight while reinforcements made their way to us. Once that was accomplished, we were required to make our way over to the building that the rebel leader was holed up in and capture him by eliminating his troops--simple objectives on paper, less easy in practice.

The map itself is set out very much in the style of games like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, with dusty, mazy streets and rebel soldiers hiding around every corner. To begin with, it's tempting to try and play through the game by jumping into the shoes of a single soldier and clearing the way in first-person mode, only zooming back out every so often to get your medic to heal you. However, the game is pretty hard, and your troops can't take much of a beating. What's more, even those soldiers equipped with half-decent weapon scopes wouldn't win prizes for the quality of their aiming, and it's easy to become outflanked by enemies that are difficult to see.

We found that a much better tactic was to move our men around in the zoomed-out strategy setting, as it was much clearer to work out not just where to go but also which direction the bullets were coming from. Our small team could be split up into two-man designations of Alpha and Bravo, used as a group of four, or even as individuals when necessary, and it's possible to jump into any soldier's shoes in first-person mode at any time.

Just by looking at the map, we could tell that there were usually two or more routes through any part of the section of city we were in, and therefore it made sense to split the team in two to try and outflank the opposition where possible. However, although that sounds simple in principle, the game still currently suffers from some issues with the artificial intelligence. Because the use of cover is vital, the general behaviour of your soldiers is crucial, and at this point some of the pathfinding is a little out. It was possible to get around that to some extent by micromanaging each team's every move--after a little while, that care and attention became second nature and yielded a satisfying opposition body count.

...or get your hands dirty by taking them out in first-person mode, instead.
...or get your hands dirty by taking them out in first-person mode, instead.

Visually, the game is holding up pretty well at this stage, and the Cuban city streets certainly look the part. There is some good particle physics in evidence, with smoke and explosions modelled effectively and crates and barrels that react to being hit by bullets and other objects realistically. One particularly neat effect is the ability to jump into and drive vehicles, although in the level we played through, only civilian and police cars were available, and these were pretty easy targets. That said, we did build a nice protective barricade at one point by parking a series of cars in line, making the task of defending our vantage point that much easier.

There are still plenty of details to be mopped up in Field Ops, but the build we played dated back to December, so it's likely that significant progress has already been made. For example, the fog of war, which renders enemy troops invisible until they're in line of sight, needs some work, and there are still some conflicts between the soldiers and some of the scenery.

It's clear there's plenty of potential for Digital Reality to produce an absorbing, compelling action strategy game that will force you to think carefully about how to progress through each part of a level. As long as the AI gets a hefty polish, and the frame rate picks up, we'll be looking forward to seeing more. When we do, we'll bring it straight to you, so keep checking back.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 8 comments about this story