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The shooting genre is the most popular genre successful today. It's the easiest to do-it's been done so many times that you'd struggle to not have some inspiration. The best games are the ones that either adds their own great innovations or the shooters which, while not that unique, nail an old concept well. The worst are the ones which add no innovation and are executed poorly or rushed out to the market with bugs and, again, no innovation. Conflict: Denied Ops is the latest shooter from Eidos and Pivotal games, which has been a series which aren't bad, but annoying flaws have kept them down from success. Is Denied Ops something you too should deny? -(The Story)- The story is typical fare-there are some Weapons of mass destruction, a rouge Venezuelan general is threatening a hostile attack the US doesn't want to start a war with Venezuela so they send in two Paramilitary operatives to stop the use of the weapons without upsetting the country. Graves is a gruff, hardened military a**hole while Lang is a 'hip' and 'fly' black dude from Miami. The story is typical, and the only think that makes it stand out is how bad the characters and dialogue are. The ending is dreadful and overall, this is one mediocre plot. There aren't any big surprises and the game just feels like one big explosion. -(The Controls)- Conflict: Denied Ops suffers from poor controls. The aiming, in particular, is generally awful as actually managing to hit an enemy with a sniper shot will be a miracle. The problem is that the aiming just doesn't stay still-when I was trying to line up a shot at an enemies head with a Sniper rifle the aiming reticule was almost impossible to line up to a guy's head, and when you did usually the shot missed somehow. That's not such an issue when you're using the machine gun, as you can literally spray and pray, thanks to unlimited ammo. Also the squad commands are mapped to awkward positions and aren't really responsive either, as when I sent my partner to a location, rather than staying there he followed me instead. Most of the control mapping isn't bad, but when the aiming is poor, the controls suck. -(The Gameplay)- Ever remember how much fun older shooters like Doom and Quake were back in the day? Now you've played Call of Duty 4 though, you realise that those shooters are a bit dated now and that you've moved on. Well, it seems that Pivotal games are stuck in the past as Conflict: Denied Ops plays like a first-person shooter from ten years ago. Of, in case you're not up to date with the series, Conflict: Denied Ops marks the game's debut into first-person perspective as games in the past have been in the third-person. Levels might have some non-linear paths for Graves to go off into a sniping rage, but for the most part levels are linear affairs with obvious explosives with people standing right next to them. Denied Ops are very ho-hum. Missions usually revolve around the same thing-you complete a main objective like killing a target or collecting an object, something happens to go wrong and then you must leg it to the Landing Zone and escape. You do this ten times over, and it gets repetitive near the end of the game. Also, there aren't any dramatic moments or big set piece battles-enemies repeat throughout and the only other kind of enemy is an enemy helicopter. The game tries to shake things up by letting you choose some missions, but it all leads to the same ending and has been done before. There are no big bangs here and no surprises-it's just one gunfight to the next. Nothing here hasn't been done before, and done much better, in many other shooters. It doesn't take its subject matter seriously at all, and it feels like one big 80s cheesy movie, minus the actual fun. You take the role of two characters and they each have different weapons. Graves sports a sniper rifle and Lang has a Light machine gun. Using these characters in the wrong situation isn't good as if you send Graves into a room full of baddies with his sniper rifle he'll be taken down, yet if you get Lang to try and snipe someone out it won't be successful. This is why Conflict offers some alternate positions for Graves to hang out in while Lang goes in full throttle. The problem with this is that you'll constantly be switching between the two, and it feels as if you're playing as one person. Lang and Graves really only differ in weapons, gameplay wise, and because they are such annoying characters, playing as either of them is not fun. The thing Conflict has is a focus on co-op, taking previous Conflict squads down from four to two, in which you can give squad commands to your partner including regroup, move, shoot there and other commands such as throw grenade. Its basic stuff similar to what you saw in Army of Two. While Army of Two could have focused more on co-op aspects, Conflict: Denied Ops takes zero advantage of the co-op aspect of gameplay. Levels are so linear and dumb that you don't really need to use the co-op features. There aren't any moves that require two people and really this could have been a one many army. The A.I. are so dumb that tactical consideration really isn't needed, and switching between characters is so quick it feels like you're one person anyways. You can also ditch the poor team A.I. and play co-op in many ways, whether it's split-screen or online via Xbox Live (if anyone plays this garbage). The co-op aspects still don't affect gameplay because there is very little to think about. Plus, why would you want to torture someone else by showing them this laughable game. There are so many better options for co-op out there like Army of Two, Gears of War, Halo 3 and more. It's just a basic shooter which brags about basic co-op features that don't change the game dramatically. Another so called 'innovation' is the 'destructible environments'. I use commas because it's more of an 'another dated and generic feature' and the destructible environments are actually 'tons of explosive barrels chucked into each level'. No, don't think you'll be using grenades to blow through walls or blowing stuff at the rate of Battlefield: Bad Company. Instead, you can blow up crates, some doors and lots of explosive barrels. You can use these barrels to kill enemies, who have a knack for standing right next to them, and it's funny at first to smash through a door using the melee shot, but really these environments are barely destructible and it just shows how very, very shallow this game is when explosive barrels are going off everywhere. Difficulty is also an issue with the game. There's never a consistency with the difficulty of each of the games 10 levels. One mission is so blindingly easy that stupid decisions will only cause death, yet the one after will be brutal and frustrating. It's just a constant change in difficulty and it's jarring. Not only that, but co-op can be ever worse because there aren't any checkpoints throughout the missions. This means that most people will struggle to stay with you on the missions, simply because if you die then the other person is going to blame you for the failing mission, argue a bit, then leave if it is over Xbox Live. A huge issue with Conflict: Denied Ops is the terrible A.I. that hurts not only the enemies but also your team mate in the single player campaign. The enemies are idiots-running into your and trying to melee kill you, sometimes they stand still while you kill them, and even trying to hid around corners with half their body stuck out. But the friendly A.I. is even worse. They are lucky to actually kill enemies, they sometimes stand about too and the biggest issue is that they can be incredibly lazy. Basically, if you happen to go through the level without using squad commands, you'll find your A.I. partner standing still at the beginning of the level. If you happen get taken down in combat, they will still be stuck at the beginning of the level. If you have made it through a big chunk of the level without your partner, you'll have to get back to your partner without dying yourself before the 4 minute time limit is up. It's frustrating, and not the least fun. While most of the game is poor, the one element where Denied Ops really shoots itself in the foot is the weapons. Or should I say two weapons. Basically, the two main characters are so 'attached' to their weapons that the game blocks you from picking up enemy weapons. That's right-you can't even pick up weapons! You get unlimited ammo for your weapons too, meaning that the supply boxes throughout each level are merely for grenades and explosives-which aren't really necessary. This makes resupplying-essentially-useless. There is so little depth here already, and having unlimited ammo just makes that worse. The campaign and co-op suck, but the sixteen player multiplayer through Xbox Live or System Link is dreadful. There are three modes available, including deathmatch and team deathmatch as well as Conquest which is basically capture the flag except you don't have to return bases back to HQ. The modes are typical, and there are only three anyways. You choose between Lang and Graves, the two main characters and you're stuck with the same weapons in the campaign, and you still can't switch. That essentially removes an ounce of depth in the multiplayer-there is no strategy to how you play-you either run and gun or snipe. There aren't too many technical hiccups with online, but no one plays this anyways so the multiplayer is all but broken. The game is rated 16+ because when you shoot enemies blood spurt and the characters can't seem to stop swearing. Every sentence usually contains some profanity word, and it's just corny and disgusting really. -(The Graphics)- Conflict: Denied Ops looks bad-Its looks about as good as an ugly PS2 game. Textures look chunky and blurry at close inspection, the colour palette is dreadfully bland, characters look bad and animate poorly, explosions look underwhelming and everything has a meh look to it. When you destroy creates they smash up but after that shooting the remains of the boxes does nothing. And what's possibly the worst thing about all of this? I mean, it looks like a ugly, high res Playstation 2 game-it can't get any worse right? Actually, it can because Conflict: Denied Ops suffers from a stutter frame rate despite hardly pushing the system. It's just a mess. -(The Sound)- Denied Ops also has some of the worst sound I've ever heard. The dialogue from the characters is dreadful, with horrible lines like when the gruff military man says 'you're reckless and inexperienced' and the other guy's best response is 'and you're one limp d*** muthaf******'. Another horrible line is when Lang (the black man) is asked is he familiar to snowy environments and he says 'I'm from Miami what do you think?' The character can't stop swearing, and it's tiring. They all seem to be in a contest where the winner is the guy who sounds lamest and swears the most. It's like a bad 80s buddy cop film. The music is repetitive and rarely makes an impact, and guns sound like Beebe guns. The sound mixing is also rubbish, as characters manage to sound louder than guns and explosions. -(The Replay Value)- The value in Conflict: Denied Ops is also abysmal. You'll be done with the single player campaign in 4 hours, the co-op isn't worth it and there is no one playing multiplayer so you won't get any value out of that. Also, the achievements are weak. Most of the achievement points come from completing the campaign on all the game's difficulty levels. This means that pretty much every other achievements, no matter how hard they are, give you very little points so unless you have the patience to play through all the game's difficulty levels you probably won't come away with many achievements, especially seeing as you can rule out the multiplayer achievements. -(The Score)- Controls 4 Gameplay 4 Graphics 3 Sound 1 Replay Value 1 Overall 2.6 -(The Conclusion)- Conflict: Denied Ops takes the proud honours of not only the Xbox 360's worst shooter ever created, or the worst game released in 2008, but also the worst game I've played on Xbox 360 so far. It's dated, dumb, clunky, broken in some areas and, worst of all, lacking a shred of imagination. The characters you play with are hateable, the gameplay is nothing we haven't seen since the days of old shooters like Quake, the graphics are low definition PS2 and the sound is some of the worst I've ever had my ears bleed to. The campaign will take you 4 hours to finish, the co-op isn't worth it when the game is this shoddy and the multiplayer is dreadful. Eidos and Pivotal should be ashamed of themselves-it's as bad as Eidos' other terrible game, 25 to Life. Don't play this game-ever; don't even try the demo because it's that bad. -(The Extra Info)- This was published by Eidos and developed by Pivotal Games. This was released on February 8th, 2008 and is also on PC and PS3. This is available from Game.co.uk for £14.99
Conflict Denied Ops is a first person shooter for the Microsoft Xbox 360 games console. In this game you have control of one of the two agents available, this is a step down from previous conflict games which offered many squad mates. You can choose either a soldier who carries a heavy machine gun, or a soldier who uses a sniper rifle. As you can imagine each of them plays differently. The shooting in this game is pretty average and if you have played any modern first person shooter you will be right at home. The fact that you have the ability to switch between your players is quite fun and keeps this otherwise unremarkable game fresh and interesting. It is just a pity they did not include more squad mates to choose from. You can get this game for around £20.00 and it will keep all you shooter fans happy.
Most famous for the tactical third-person shooters Conflict: Desert Storm 1 and 2, Pivotal Games are back once again, this time attempting to rejuvenate the highly successful Conflict series with their latest title, Conflict: Denied Ops. Unfortunately for us gamerholics, it's a shame stores worldwide did not "deny" access to the game, and save the proud Conflict series from sheer embarrassment. Pivotal Games have tried to bring innovative ideas to the overly crowded First Person Shooter genre, but fail to make any noticeable impact and improve on aspects already seen among many other shooters already available. Join me as I explain why Pivotal Games should have retired this glamorous series at its 4th instalment, instead of punishing us gamers with the lacklustre 5th title, Denied Ops. With all 4 of the previous Conflict games operating from a Third-Person viewpoint, Pivotal Games decided to take a fresh approach with their latest title by swapping the Third-Person view with an already overused First-Person perspective. This seems like a strange decision to me, due to the developing company already being highly experienced and knowledgeable with Third-Person games, and therefore surely that being the wisest choice. The First-Person shooting genre is also overcrowded with an array of titles on the Xbox 360, with the consoles games library severely lacking decent Third-Person shooters; so why add to an already exasperated genre, when they could have produced another top class Third-Person hit and an innovative title for Xbox 360, and something gamers would have really appreciated and enjoyed? I don't quite understand this decision. There's a common saying which goes by the lines of "Change is not good", and this definitely becomes true to life when considering the Conflict series. The biggest selling point Conflict has to offer is the fact Co-operative gameplay is included, working intelligently with a partner being the key to success and progressing through the game. Co-op game types are slowly becoming the most popular titles on the market, so I congratulate Pivotal Games for taking advantage of this fact and basing their game around a solid and inspiring feature. However, I do not congratulate the company for the way they have incorpated co-operative play in to Conflict: Denied Ops. Completing the campaign on your lonesome is slightly enjoyable if you're an avid FPS fan, with some aspects of co-op play working well. You have access to two characters throughout the game, an up-close and personal Machine Gun operator called Lincoln Graves, and a crafty character named Reggie Lang, who prefers the more tactical and stealth approach via using a Sniper Rifle. At any time during the game, you are able to switch between the two characters by simply pressing the B button. This allows you to instantly employ different tactics depending on the situation you find yourself in. For example, if there are enemies from afar shooting at you, the range of your Machine Gun would not be capable to eliminate the bad guys, and therefore you could switch to Lang; picking them of one by one with your trusty Snipe. This works well as you play through the campaign single handedly, but where's the fun in that when you could rip the enemies to shreds with the help of a friend? If co-op is available, you will more than likely choose this option rather than completing the game solo. Unfortunately though, this clever feature is not available whilst you take down the terrorists with your trusted ally. Before each mission, you will have to both choose one of the two characters to last through that whole segment of the game, with no swapping being available. What if both of the players are highly talented with the Sniper and despise the shotgun? Not only could this feature encourage arguments, it can also hinder gameplay during missions. If you find yourself surrounded by merciless enemies whilst playing with Lang, you're in a word, screwed, as your Sniper Rifle's slow reloading time will hinder your chances of survival as you get pounded by bullets penetrating your body from all angles, and you rapidly see every corner of the screen become a dark shade of red, indicating death is close; not a pretty or welcomed sight! The same applies with the character Graves; if you are being shot from afar, you will not be able to take the enemy out with your short ranged Machine Gun, and therefore rely on your partner solving the situation for you with his Sniper Rifle. Only being able to switch characters whilst playing single player and not split-screen or online with a friend hinders gameplay to a high degree, with tempered discussions likely to arise over who chooses which character. Ordering your colleague around each level is easily done and well incorpated in to the game. Point your cursor to a position and press the Left Trigger to command your number two on where to venture, whereas holding the Left Trigger down will order your colleague to follow your every move. These simplistic controls will appeal to most gamers, and allow you to concentrate on executing the bad guys instead of panicking about what button to press. Once again though, this Left Trigger control system has only been implemented for single player use, with you not being able to give your partner orders during co-operative multiplayer. The only way of communication between the pair of you is via the Headset or speaking to your friend next to you. If you are playing the game online and do not have access to a Headset, effective communication has no chance of being present and this will hinder your chances of surviving on the harder difficulty levels. Along with Co-operative play via Xbox Live or split-screen, Conflicts other main selling point is the inclusion of destructible environments. Everybody loves blowing stuff up, creating massive explosions and blasting ones eardrums with the scorching sound produced. Destructible environments are missing from many games currently available on the Xbox 360, which is pretty disappointing for a next generation console which strives to produce games close to reality. Shooting a chair in real life should make the object disintegrate into hundreds of tiny pieces of wood; and this is what happens in Pivotal Games' latest title. Not only does recklessly destroying the environments look visually impressive, you can also put this enjoyable feature to effective use. If an enemy is hiding behind a table, don't waste your time sneaking around the object to get a clear shot at your foe, just blast the table away! Not all of the games environments are destructible however, which detracts from the realism the disintegrating environments originally brought to the game. You could stand there for hours rinsing bullets in to a pillar holding up a building, only for bullet holes to be produced. If everything was truly destroyable, that pillar would have collapsed, bringing the whole building own with it; now that would be some serious fun. Unfortunately though this is not the case, so we'll have to settle with the odd wall and object being at our peril. The co-operative gameplay and destructible environments are Conflicts measly two positive points, and even these have noticeable flaws which detract from the games enjoyability. Disadvantages strongly outweigh the advantages in this tile. If I were t list all the negative points, I would be here all day and take up way too much of your time; so here's a quick overview of the most criminal aspects of the game. There's nothing better than sitting down for a few hours and being immersed into a totally different world, forgetting about all your worries due to a compelling and intriguing storyline. Was Conflicts storyline immersive or well thought out? Simply put, no. The campaign is extremely uninspiring and will never leave you wondering or caring about what happens next; you'll probably be more concerned about whether you're washing needs to be taken out of the drier! The only explanation of a story comes in the shape of a short cut-scene before each of the 10 missions, which barely specifies on what the game is about. After playing through the campaign, I only knew that my objectives were eliminating terrorist threats. I didn't know why, what threats, what terrorists were involved or many other important pieces of information; and quite frankly wasn't bothered about finding out either. The campaign mode will often feel like a multiplayer session due to the screen before each mission when you play co-operatively with a friend. A screen where you choose who will command each character is displayed, and when you press the Start button to confirm these details and begin the mission, a 5 second countdown will begin before the missions loading process occurs. Timed countdowns are more commonly placed in Multiplayer matches, not campaign modes... Loading times also appear multiplayer-esque, making you wait considerably longer than other games in the First-Person shooting genre. As previously mentioned, playing co-op with a friend will force you to stick with a single character for the remainder of that mission. This can hinder tactics, gameplay, and most importantly the fun factor. If you find yourself playing with somebody who insists on choosing your favourite character every time and refuses to change each mission, happy times are unlikely to be ahead; boredom being the likely destination. This is not the only disadvantage of the co-operative side of Conflict, with split-screen frame-rate issues being a major issue also. Big explosions or large amounts of enemies on the screen at the same time will often cause stuttering; similar to when you were a 3 year old kid failing to speak fluently. If you planned on buying or renting this game for some split-screen goodness with a friend, I'd think again, unless of course you have a high annoyance threshold and can cope with frustrating features such as poor frame-rates. How many times in previous games have you destroyed or defended a certain objective? Too often you're probably thinking. Conflict follows the same theme, giving you countless destroying and defending objectives, failing to offer variety in each mission and therefore making the game feel agonisingly repetitive. Variety is the spice of life, but Pivotal Games failed to incorpated this into the 5th instalment of the series, resulting in a boring, incomplete feel to the game after the first few missions. Whether this repetitive gameplay would stop you from completing the game, only you would know; but it certainly didn't fill me with motivation to complete the adventure. Not only will repetitive gameplay bring you to breaking point and become tiresome, filling your enemy with bullets on the easiest difficulty level to only see them stroll happily away will feel you with rage. Surely shooting an enemy with a Sniper Rifle should kill him in less than 3 shots! The damage capacity enemies seem to be able to endure, even on the so called "easy" difficulty level, is often beyond a joke. Not only is this unbelievably unrealistic, but will often have you pulling your hair out due to needing yet another attempt to kill your some-what invincible foe. You will not run out of ammunition however for your primary weapons throughout each mission, and this could have been included to counteract your enemies' high pain thresholds. Once again, this feature is highly unrealistic and makes the experience feel more like a video game instead of a real life event. Sprinting has been a feature often incorporated into newly released games, but for some unknown reason, Pivotal decided to not give you this option. Not only do you lack the ability to sprint, apparently your legs fail you due to jumping also not being an option. With sprinting and jumping being included in the vast majority of games released in recent times, not having these attributes in Conflict doesn't feel natural, resulting in an awkward control system which could take a while getting used to; and by the time your used to these new controls, you'll likely be bored of the games lacklustre storyline and repetitive gameplay! A special operative soldier should be able to wield and effectively use more than one weapon, having been trained to use a wide variety of lethal tools to help with any situation faced. So why does each character in Conflict only have one weapon to use? Graves having the Machine Gun, and Lang a Sniper Rifle. Only having access to two weapons throughout the game, one if you are playing co-operatively with a friend, can become repetitive in a short period of time. After each successful mission however, your weapon becomes slightly upgraded to allow improved performance in the next mission. For example, a Shotgun becomes attached to Lang's Sniper Rifle to deal with enemies at short range, with a Grenade Launcher attachment available for Grave's Machine Gun, resulting in more long range destruction occurring. The upgrading of weapons as you progress through the campaign is a nice feature, but still isn't enough to compensate for a lack of original options. If you become bored of the campaign or just fancy a change from being frustrated every 5 minutes, Multiplayer via Xbox Live is available to waste away the hours in; more like minutes, as you discover there is only 3 modes to participate in, with these being the ever-present Deathmatch, Team-Deathmatch and Conquest. Nothing new here then, and certainly nothing that will inspire you to put many an hour into the game unlike other Online ventures such as Call of Duty 4. If you are looking for a large online community to join and experience countless hours of fun with, Conflict: Denied Ops is certainly not the game for you. Unlike the series' previous boisterous online communities, the latest title having many people participating in the game in the near future is extremely unlikely. I would have preferred an improved campaign mode rather than a tagged on multiplayer, but this appears to be the common trend among games this generation. An inconsistent frame-rate is the only let down to overall highly respectable graphics the game has to offer. Some missions in the game look very pleasing on the eye, with highly detailed environments and gorgeous explosions. This is only present from far away however. As you get closer to an object, the more the texture becomes blurred and less realistic. This is same with most games though, including Epic Games title Gears of War, and therefore shouldn't offend you too much; but is still slightly disappointing to see. The inclusion of dark environments may hinder your experience due to requiring night vision being used on regular occasions. Whilst in the vibrant green of night vision, the graphics appear much more basic and less detailed than in the usual daylight. The rather bland night vision and dark environments might put a few people off playing the game, if the other many disadvantages hadn't already. Conflict: Denied Ops surprisingly consists of a half decent achievement list, with the majority being single player awards. 12 out of the 44 achievements are multiplayer based, producing an average of approximately a quarter of achievements being online, and three quarter of the achievements being unlocked from single player. This is a pretty good ratio, and one most gamers would like to see implemented in games of the same genre. Completing the game on each of the four difficulty levels will unlock an achievement, and thankfully these are stackable; meaning you'll only have to struggle through the game once on Extreme difficulty level to unlock a nice 375 gamerpoints. There are some tricky single player achievements which could easily be missed during a play through, such as rescuing certain people or saving allies from near death situations; but nothing which would be missed using the terrific Achievement Guide located on our site. The 1000 is very achievable if you have the patience to endurance a less than adequate campaign, and can find enough people to play online or boost with.