Operation Shadow is the second title developed for the N-Gage by the Australian developers Torus Games, and with their first title being the iconic Ashen which was the Launching title for the N-Gage QD Operation Shadow will undoubtedly have a lot to live up to.
Although the N-Gage already has some first person shooters such as Ashen and Red Faction; we have not yet seen a decent third person shooter, well this is all about to change with Operation Shadow. Operation Shadow follows a slightly different route by combining a strong cartoon element with an over the top third person war game.
Operation Shadow like so many other shoot-em-ups on the N-Gage doesn’t lend much effort to its back story, however the information we are given is very effective and appears in small sections at the start of the game in the style of a documentary detailing the events leading up to a large disaster or war.
The story so far:
Friday 04.10 hours: A situation is developing in Arawas and seems to be worsening. The Ixan desert scorpions are moving towards the Arawas and Ixan border in what appears to be an attempt to seize territory along the border.
Friday 18.00 hours: News starts to break that tensions along the border are increasing due to raids by the Ixan troops. It is feared that if this situation is not resolved quickly war will inevitably break out between the long term rivals.
Saturday 10.10 hours: The situation worsens overnight with the Ixan forces striking and seizing part of the northern border between the Arawas and Ixan peninsula. The Ixan troops are holding strong positions whilst they establish vital supply lines. News has also broken that many allied troops who were operating in the area have now been taken prisoner and are currently being held in POW camps along the border.
The game is played from an elevated over the shoulder view-point and you play as Jay Solano, an elite solider who is the only person who can single handily neutralize the situation along the border and free the POW’s…..wow what a guy!
You are immediately thrust in to the thick of battle with only an assault rifle and a few grenades for protection. You must run about collecting new bigger and better weapons which include bazookas and grenades whilst neutralizing the enemy and their camps as and when you discover them. This is helped by the fact that you are able to enter and drive most vehicles on the battle field which include assault Helicopters, Tanks and Hum-Vee trucks. This is a nice feature and will help you a great deal when locating and assaulting the enemy bases.
The game play of Operation Shadow will seem familiar to some gamers because it is very similar to that of Red Faction, you get a targeting cross hair which automatically aims, an ammunition meter and best of all lots of enemy soldiers to shoot. In theory this sounds great but I found that the automatic aim which you cant turn off made the game-play a little sticky in the respect that you would be hiding on a cliff edge, have the enemy in your sights but the automatic aim just wouldn’t aim at them, well not until they are nearly on top of your position laying rounds in to you.
Some of the vehicles in Operation Shadow contain some great features in particular the Tanks which can rotate their turrets even whilst in motion which makes for some great battlefield combat.
The controls are very simple with the few buttons that are in use during the game being: The ‘5’ key which is fire, the ‘2’ key which controls the entrance and exit of vehicles, ‘3’ changes between your weapons and finally ‘7’ which throws a grenade. Because of the simplicity of these controls I would say that Operation Shadow has a very small learning curve which means that you can jump straight in to this game and start producing some serious carnage.
The graphics of Operation Shadow are very hard to describe because they are so varied, for example there are parts of the game where they look great and are definitely up to N-gage standards and then there are parts especially when there are objects or structures in the distance where you could be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a game on the Master System console. The distant structures appear as pixelated blobs until you start to approach them when they suddenly just morph in to well crafted structures. Having said this it doesn’t really affect the game-play that considerably but it is noticeable.
Although the graphics are slightly flawed in places the game runs at a fast 15 frames per second and so the game does run very smooth which in a strange way seems to make up for the occasionally blocky graphics. The character and vehicle animations in use are all fairly competent but nothing that will make your mouth water by any means; however they do their job well and give the game a real arcade touch which kind of suits the cartoon single soldier ‘Rambo’ rampage game play.
The games sound FX are very well crafted and surprisingly realistic, it is easy to identify the sounds of different vehicles and weapons which is very useful when on the battlefield and you are unsure of what lies ahead or what vehicles are creeping up on you. The music featured on Operation Shadow is very typical of a classic arcade shoot-em-up by this I mean that it is poorly synthesized and is looped often and so this can become a little blistering on the ears but thankfully the game features the option to vary the FX and music volumes separately.
Operation Shadow contains few features other than a worthless N-Gage Arena function which only lets you post a score and a wonderful Bluetooth multiplayer mode which is what makes this game so great. The multi-player mode is basically a typical death match set in a large arena littered with vehicles and ammo which can house up to four players via the wireless Bluetooth technology. Players must find each other and create utter carnage until the death. This feature is really where this game excels and so I find it surprising that the developers didn’t concentrate on making an N-Gage Arena real time death match.
The game Operation Shadow is a great piece of gaming fun especially when using the multiplayer Bluetooth functions and although it has its occasionally flaws it still stands out especially when compared to some of the older N-Gage titles. If your after some fun and quirky serious one man carnage then this game is definitely for you! Considering that their were rumors circulating that this game was to be dropped from the N-Gage roster I feel that Nokia definitely made the right choice in continuing the launch of this game and it will definitely be a welcomed addition to the N-Gage Library. Prepare for combat! We’re going in………………………
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