Spec Ops II: Green Berets

Zombie VR Studios started the tactical shooter craze with Spec Ops. Since then, a heap of competitors have run with the genre, so when development for Spec Ops II began, Zombie should have taken a hard look at the competition. While SO2 is significantly better than its predecessor, it doesn't hold a candle to Rogue Spear or Delta Force 2.

In SO2, you take command of a four-man Green Beret squad and lead it on two dozen missions set in hot spots around the world. You'll patrol the jungles of Thailand, the grasslands of Korea, and the freezing icescapes of Antarctica.

The missions are detailed and well rounded: from working with British SAS commandos for joint border patrol to recovering downed GPS satellites, they are easily SO2's best feature. And you can finish them in any order, which eliminates the pressure of completing a certain mission to advance further in the game.

Gameplay has been improved. Your commandos can stand, crouch, or lie prone - you can't lie prone in Rogue Spear. But it still lacks the muscle to go one-on-one with the likes of Rogue Spear or Delta Force 2.

I blame SO2's movement. For example, running negates any chance you have at shooting back in defence or offering cover-fire. And I don't mean just that it's harder to aim while running. You simply cannot fire. Aren't Green Berets supposed to be elite? I'm sure they can run and fire if their lives depend on it.

The graphics have been beefed up since SO1. You can choose higher resolutions and the game includes a new 32-bit colour mode. Your troops and the opposition, from polygons to textures, look much better than they did in SO1.

Heck, they look a lot better than Delta Force 2's voxel troopers.

But don't get excited just yet. SO2 graphics are hindered by blocky 3D models like trees, weapons, and other obstacles that look as though they were rushed out the door. And the interface menu, with its confusing layout, isn't easy on the eyes.

Multiplayer support is crucial in this genre, and Zombie has learned from its mistakes. (SO1 didn't ship with multiplayer; it was released later as part of an add-on pack.) SO2 comes with multiplayer support out of the box. There's no doubt that up to 16 people playing over a LAN or the Internet is more fun than single-player mode.

In the end, the best thing about SO2 is its audio. From the radio chatter to the distant explosions, SO2 is loaded with realistic sounds of warfare. The sounds of my troops getting slaughtered gave me chills. [Nash is a big softie - ED.] The verdict is simple: SO2 is not the best at what it does. It's not even second best. And while I did have a good time playing SO2, I suggest you pick up Rogue Spear or Delta Force 2 instead.

Product: Spec Ops II: Green Berets

Developer: Zombie VR Studios

URL: www.specops2.com/

Tips

Use suppressive fire when approaching the enemy. Not only will you land the occasional lucky hit, but it will keep the enemy from getting off good shots against you.

Keep your eyes on your squad. It's the only thing you've got going when you get in a pickle. If your comrades die, you'll soon follow them.

If you're having trouble on a particular mission, skip it. You can always come back and do it later after you've acquired new skills.

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Nash Werner

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