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Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam [PC]







Third person shooter refined to near perfection.

8.5

Superb
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Grows on you"

Summary

Let's get the story out of the way. You play as Captain Walker who, along with the other two guys, is sent to the destroyed city of Dubai in order to investigate a distress signal by the missing Colonel Konrad. Pretty soon you discover that the city is not empty and is filled with some civilians as well as the AWOL U.S. 33rd Army battalion which was supposed to evacuate the city after being deployed in Kabul. You then quickly proceed to battling and killing your country-men. Neat. I'm surprised this German developer didn't get any heat from critics yet for giving you the ability to kill U.S. army men. Along the way, you unravel the mystery as to what exactly is happening.

The scenery is quite breathtaking. The Unreal 3.0 engine makes character models and distant vistas look crisp. The desert is so well made that it reminded me of the Uncharted 3 desert. You also get to leave foot prints in the sand. There are no texture pop ins and every texture is pre-rendered. However, the amount of video options is limited. The engine provides no DX10,11 or anti-aliasing for that matter, and the gameplay rate is capped at 60 FPS. So it's a port; thanks, consoles.

The game itself plays like a solid A/B action flick. There are some grand action set pieces, there is plenty of dialogue, there are opportunities to sneak up on enemy and there are some grave choices to be made and alter game in the process.

One of the most essential components of the game is the A.I. and boy is it good, both friendly and A.I. The enemy soldiers will communicate with each other, they will give out orders, they will attempt to flank you and sometimes attack you from both sides at the same time, they WILL run away and jump away from your grenades, they will retreat, raise alarms, call for back ups, they will also throw grenades pretty accurately and they will do suppressing fire as well. However, some handpicked A.I. will just stand there without taking cover, just waiting to be shot. The reason is that if they are standing on the glass or next to a mountain of sand behind glass, they can be killed with the force of the surrounding environment.

This game forces you to think when dealing with the enemy. They aren't supermen and they aren't pushovers either.

As for the friendly A.I., well just about the only way that you can order your teammates around is by telling them to attack this guy or that guy or flash bang them. However, once you do give the order, your team mates will do their best to take out the indicated guy either with regular rifles, sniper fire or grenades. At times, I saw my team mates stand their own ground pretty effectively. This feature is unparalleled with many shooters, wherein even IF you are a part of the team, you are the one getting shot at most and you are the one having to kill every foe. (COD ahem)

You also get to collect intel and figure out what happened to the populace and Dubai in general after the biggest sand storms decimated the city.

Something about the gameplay feels right, I can't quite put my finger on it. You can only carry two weapons and a handful of grenades. The ammo is always scarce so the game forces you to not waste ammo. I also like how any assault rifle magazine will be out of ammo after just a few bursts - it's all pretty realistic. There is no evasion button and there is no prone button. The constant sand storm atmosphere creates a hostile and extreme environment and the sound of sand storms is quite deafening. Also, what's awesome is that once your frag grenade explodes, it also creates a collateral sand fog which stuns the surviving enemies which can be plucked one by one.

As far as the weapons are concerned, well, every other weapon has a secondary feature. The M-16 or whatever has a silencer, so does the pistol, the AK-47 has a three bullet burst feature, the sniper rifle has a 8x, 16x zoom feature, etc.

The thing that quite often DOES mess up the gameplay is the sprinting, that's right. When you go forward press "space" for sprinting (default) and then let go of "space", Walker will just keep sprinting for an indefinite amount of time. And if you want to stop immediately, you have to press "S", to back up. So I decided to switch to the good old "shift" for sprinting instead. It sorta helped but the running still feels consolish, especially when you try to make sharp turns and attempt to take cover while being shot at. What sucks again though is that the crappy consolized controls made "shift" stand for both sprinting AND melee. It's like, seriously devs? You could not allocate a separate action key for melee for us, PC gamers? we do have a keyboard, you know.

Oh about that, when you are running toward cover and getting shot at, your character will automatically slide towards cover for about 2-3 meters, which is pretty neat because the game does not force you to press the cover button again. That's what they should have done in Operation Raccoon City instead of just adding automatic cover that doesn't work half the time.


I've also noticed that the devs put a lot of effort into level design which look as if they were taken from real locations. The flamboyant hotel rooms, the flashy lobbies, the elegant living quarters, the vanity statutes, the artifacts displaying wealth of the city now gone - all bring an engaging dystopian feeling. At times, there are also numerous ways of advancing and flanking your enemies.

The wobbly cross-hair is quite neat. The only time your aim is remotely steady is when you come out of cover, however if you sprint and then attempt to shoot, your aim will be all over the place. Thus, every other kill feels like a small accomplishment. If there only was no regenerative health. The good thing is that your team mates cannot revive you when you get shot up. However, you can pick them up and they can pick each other up.

I should also add that voice acting in the game is quite exceptional.

As for the multiplayer, well, it delivers on many levels. The crappy sprinting is still there, so it's best to not run at all. You get to customize your character as you progress. You get to choose 15 perks as you progress. These range between being invisible on the minimap while sprinting, increasing your protection against explosives, reducing the cross-hair wobble, increasing your weapon damage, increasing your mini-map (radar) range, etc. As for the weapons, there are 5 SMGs, 9 Assault rifles, 4 shotguns, 4 sniper rifles, 6 handguns, 2 machine guns and RPG. The levels are pretty balanced too. Some levels feature active destruction and temporary sand storms that reduce your speed, visibility and accuracy. Sometimes these storms cause collapse of nearby structures so you better stay clear.

However, if you are playing a 30 minute match and then all of a sudden "lose connection to server" all your progress is going to reset. Now this sucks big time because after playing for some time, I "lost connection to server" and reverted back to level 1. Now this is a certainly good feature to discourage rage quitters and quitters in generals but it sucks big time when you lose your experience points and perks.

All in all, this is a pretty solid M-rated (there is torture, mutilated bodes, up-close violence and executions) third person shooter with some new gameplay elements and addictive multiplayer that will keep your interested. Here are the minuses:

1. Limited video options.
2. No Co-Op campaign. (This could have easily been a 2-3 player co-op game), however they are gonna add co-op in August.
3. Medium-length campaign. 15 medium-length chapters.
4. The pistol cross-hair sucks. And you can't turn it off.
5. No way to turn off indicators when in cover. (Indicators that tell you if you can swap cover; it's cluttering the screen)
6. Crappy consolish sprinting.
7. Limited destruction.
8. Bad grenade explosion animation.
9. Having to press "space" for springing, taking cover and reviving team mates.




play it

10

Editors' Choice
Difficulty:
Easy
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Solid"

Summary

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One of the best games i`ve ever played

10

Editors' Choice
Difficulty:
Easy
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Rocks"

Summary

This game is one of the best games i`ve ever played. The story is very interesting but aslo sad. The action is good and the graphics too. i recommend this game to be played.I wish i could thank personally to the developers for this great work on this game. i hope i`ll play more games like this . When i saw this game for the first time i didn`t expect to much on it,but now after i played it. it will remain in my mind forever and i will play it again in the future.I also like that the graphics are not that expensive on hardware resources. i easily played it on my mid-high range rig on maximum settings with a decent minimum of 20 fps. I like the main character, the dialog is very wide and you can give your squad orders very easy.So as a conclusion on this review, this game should be played by many players. The advantaje is that this game has the playtrough in dubai, so if you want a vacation ,you got it. :)




Best single player game I've played in a long time.

8.5

Superb
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Surprisingly good"

Summary

Amazing graphics. Amazing story. SO UNDER-APPRECIATED!!! Controls are a bit clunky. Quite linear, but linear like Prince of Persia. Holds the same fascination for me. I won't right any spoilers but....for me I took a wrong turn in the game. And WOW...the scene is gonna haunt me forever! Never EVER will I take living for granted. I don't like to say the ''oh reviews are wrong blah blah blah'' but it was wrong...what version was the guy playing? I played the PC version and it worked great on a AMD A4 and a Radeon 7750, which is a budget card and a budget processor. The story is intense and in the beginning you almost get bored because you don't know why and who's who, but slowly it comes to you, and suddenly you're left feeling ''Should I be doing this? What is right?'' then you're like ''Ah, so that's it'' but then ''What? That can't be right...or could it?'' I'd rank it almost as high as the first Mass Effect in my book. there isn't much choice but when there is...It will not only mold your character, it WILL mold you.
10.0

Editors' Choice
.