For any avid gamer the sound of mixing First Person Shooter with Real-Time Strategy is an interesting one. It's an idea which to my knowledge has never been done before and I can only think that's it’s never been done before for good reason. South Peak Games have stepped up to the challenge that is such a game and the resulting outcome is Raven Squad: Operation Hidden Dagger.
Set in what should have been the colourful and graphically stunning Amazon jungle gamers control two teams of 3 soldiers using both the FPS and RTS cameras. The story line follows one of no surprise. You’re in the jungle to rescue survivors and search for some precious data while killing all the bad guys walking around who try to kill you, and then escape. It’s enough to make you want to stop right there, and this feeling isn't helped by the poor audio voiceovers and cut scenes that will have you bashing away at the 'X' button to try and skip the scene at the first opportunity.
So already without even playing a mission it's off to a bad start, and then when you do get into the game it gets worse. There are around 12 missions which only take 15-25 minutes to complete when playing on regular difficulty subsequently creating a short campaign mode. Although not normally good to have a short game, it is here and instead of calling each mission a mission, they should change it to a 4 hour escapade as every mission is almost identical, which consequently quickly makes the game repetitive and to sum up disappointing. A typical mission scenario is as such; Start off at the appropriate checkpoint, kill a maximum of 6 enemies at any given time, progress to the checkpoint which is on your map and bam, you've finished the mission and on a cut scene.
You can do most of the missions in either the FPS view or RTS view. When you are in the FPS view you can switch between your two teams seamlessly and control each of the 3 soldiers who are in each team, so at least there is one positive in the game worth noting. Each soldier has different weapons for example the Assault team will carry grenades and rocket launchers whereas the Infiltration team will carry smoke and flash grenades. Because the game isn't realistic, as in you could be pelting bullets into the AI and they won't die, you don't need to flick between squads as much as you would have thought. You will occasionally need to flip into RTS mode which is done by the push of a button and this allows you to move both teams to desired locations as well as see any incoming enemies who are highlighted in red. As previously mentioned the enemies rarely wander around in proper squads, instead there are usually 3 enemies to a highlighted circle (shown in RTS view) which allows you to easily take them out without really putting much effort into it. In fact if you wanted you could play the whole game (minus a few sections of the game) in the RTS view which allows you to sit back and relax. However where's the fun in that?
Gameplay wise Raven Squad isn't a patch on the other FPS games out there. One thing which is really annoying is that you can't jump. It might sound like I'm being picky, but when you walk down a route to be greeted by some boxes chest height causing you to turn back and find another route, it becomes frustrating. These guys are supposed to be soldiers after all. Thankfully they are not too soft to carry a good supply of ammo, quite the opposite in fact. So much so that you don't need to find or pick up bullets from other enemies. It's like they have tried to make it arcady, but then forgot to make the game fun, which is a crucial factor to any arcade game. Gameplay's not the worst thing about the game though. I introduce to you, the graphics.
Graphically the game is a disaster. This is more Xbox 1 than Xbox 360 which is really disappointing. Set in the Amazon rainforest there should be bright green surroundings everywhere as well as realistic mud and water effects. Raven Squad has none of this. Instead the missions are littered with invisible walls even when you can see a space on the RTS camera angle and square leafs. OK the square leafs was a little more than exaggerated, but just the whole presentation of the game is poor and you can probably tell I'm slightly annoyed at the game in general. It's just like they have had an idea, ran with it, then decided it wasn't such a good idea, but then still ran with it.
If you're about to fall asleep playing the game you can attempt to play a LIVE game where you can play through the missions again with a fellow LIVE gamer. The reason I say attempt is because that's all you'll be doing. No-one for the love of god seems to play this game online and I don't blame them. There are far better and more enjoyable games on the market at the moment and it's to no surprise that this is the outcome. If you do have 2 Xbox 360's you can play via System Link, but then you have to buy two copies of the game and that would be scandalous. In summary I suggest you avoid Raven Squad like the plague. That is all.
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