Conflict: Denied Ops - Hands-On

Written by Joe Martin

January 19, 2008 | 14:14

Tags: #casual #conflict #fps #graves #hands-on #lang #pivotal #preview #simulator #war

Companies: #eidos

Conflict: Really, No Ops. Honest!

Yes, there are some serious holes in Conflict: Denied Ops – some really huge gaping ones.

The first problem comes out of the game’s main strength, the co-op campaign. We had a chance to go on the first five levels of the game on all platforms and, although it is to be praised that the level design was consistent across all platforms, the levels never really made the sniper character, Graves, a preferable option. And that’s coming from somebody who very much prefers to play shooters in a surgical, sniping style.

The problem is in the balancing and the lack of options. Graves has a scoped, semi-automatic rifle as his main weapon, with a silenced pistol in reserve, while Lang carries a huge machine gun and a Desert Eagle. What quickly became apparent to me though in the co-op campaigns we played was that Graves’ rifle was pretty poor compared to the machine gun, even at long range. It was so poor in fact that it almost seemed to be begging for a handout.

Scoped aiming is made pretty difficult on the console versions of the game thanks to the scope wobble, and only headshots are really effective enough to take enemies down quickly (though even then, it can take two headshots sometimes). Everything else does little more than stun an enemy.

Conflict: Denied Ops - Hands-On Conflict: Really, No Ops. Honest!
Click to enlarge

Compare that to the machine gun which is effective even at fairly long ranges if you sight along the barrel and keep it to short bursts. With the machine gun, it takes about half the time to kill someone and, if you’re skilled with the pistol, you can half that time again. It’s little wonder that we decided to spend most of our time as Lang, switching to Graves only when a specific objective called for it.

The weapons turned out to be a pain in another way as well, actually. You see, although weapons do get upgrades between missions, we were limited to just the two guns for the whole thing and the upgrades were rarely of much import – targeting cameras on the scope, etc.

It made no sense, ploughing through hundreds of typically faceless enemies, but being unable to take any of their weapons. Thankfully, ammo crates are occasionally found dotted around the levels and Graves and Lang can resupply their ammo supplies from there.

The vehicle sections of the game, which are dotted throughout the levels, are a welcome reprieve from the monotony of armed combat, and controlling tanks and the like is a good burst of fun while it lasts. However, we couldn’t help but feel that the vehicular sections could have been a little more dramatic and rousing. There were parts of the preview where we, in tanks, were being escorted by helicopters as we extracted from the mission. We ploughed across the terrain, loosing cannon blasts and shaking the mantle of the earth itself as we carved a path through the opposition – but the whole thing still felt very empty and by the numbers.

Conflict: Denied Ops - Hands-On Conflict: Really, No Ops. Honest!
Click to enlarge

Early thoughts...

To top off our balancing concerns and the limitations placed on the characters, the graphics seemed a little lopsided too. On the Xbox 360, the game looked OK – a little basic compared to the other AAA titles, but OK nonetheless. On the PS3, everything looked about the same, though it has to be said that both consoles had slightly lesser framerates when compared to the PC version.

Ah, yes, the PC version. The PC game looked the worst of all, as if it had been washed out and reduced to a blander version of the original. At first we attributed this to low settings or a dodgy screen, but a little prying when nobody was looking revealed that everything was maxed out correctly. The options menu boasted per-pixel lighting, HDR, high texture qualities and heat haze shaders – all toggled up to the highest settings.

Yet, the PC version still looked a bit ropey despite the increased framerate.

In the end, it’s clear that Conflict: Denied Ops is a solid, if uninspired, shooter that has a few problems still holding it back. However, since these flaws mostly centre on the balancing within the game’s mechanics, they should prove relatively easy to fix before the game is released.

Conflict: Denied Ops sets out to be a casual FPS game suitable for light play and fun-times, not for hardcore appeal and longevity, and in that respect it’s very close to succeeding at what it sets out to do. If a casual FPS game is the type of thing you think you might be interested in, or if you regularly find yourself having a few beers and flipping on the Xbox for some split screen fun, then Conflict: Denied Ops may well be a game you want to keep an eye on.
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