For all the unending complaining that people spewed forth about the usage of World War II in video games, it was at least a conflict that was cemented in the history books. I mean, we know exactly who won, we know precisely the dates and times of every major battle that took place, it wasn’t a period in history developers could get stupendously wrong. The trouble with adopting the “torn from the newspapers” approach is that the world of modern conflict tends to be a little more unpredictable.
Case in point: Global Ops: Commando Libya. Aside from a title that sweeps the awards for the dullest and most confusing (Commando Libya?) bunching of words of 2011, this is a game built around a now out of date plot involving a stolen nuclear weapon being placed in the hands of a ruthless Libyan dictator and his hordes of well armed soldiers. A plot that, thanks to recent events, hits so wide of the mark it’s difficult to sit through it’s cut scenes and not have a little chuckle. (Though in hindsight that might have more to do with the terrible voice acting than the appalling writing).
Beyond that, it’s the same gung-ho military fantasist tosh you’ve heard before. Two CIA agents are dispatched to recover the aforementioned nuke in the loudest and bloodiest way possible, although not before the pair spurt out virtually every obscenity known to man, these two being grown men-children playing with guns after all, which essentially makes them like 99.9% of all online players. Just to make it feel a part of the crowd, Russian terrorists are also thrown into the mix, because these days it’s apparently law to have at least one Russian villain appear somewhere in your action game, and Commando Libya is nothing if not desperate to rub shoulders with genre companions.
So much so in fact, that what you get here is the culmination of just about every cliché the genre has relied on for the past five years. Predominant influences tend to be those of the cover-based variety, so the nods to Gears of War, Army of Two and even the granddaddy of them all Kill Switch are immediate and blatantly obvious from the start. Actions typically revolve around you and an AI controlled companion darting between conveniently placed shoulder high walls to hide behind whilst bullets are sprayed back and forth.
If you’re even faintly familiar with this mechanic, there are few surprises in store here. So what does Commando Libya do differently? Nothing. Absolutely zilch. This is a game that’s quite happy to borrow and copy ideas perfected by others, which at least means that on a basic level it all works as it should. The pace is kept steady enough to prevent boredom from setting in while the obligatory gun turret and vehicle sections sometimes make an appearance to add a bit of variety from all the wall hugging you’ll be spending the majority of the game doing.
It can be enjoyable in it’s own budget kind of way, but it’s never inspiring, always dropping you into situations you’ll have seen and done countless time before. The helicopter boss battle, the being stalked by an enemy tank you have to run from, it’s a paint by numbers game that someone has already coloured in. Still, what can you expect from a budget release? Well, adequate AI would be a nice start. It might get the combat right, but often is the case where enemy soldiers ignore the readily available cover and dart forward on a suicidal run. Their stupidity in general means that unless played on a higher difficulty, this is a game that can be completed just as easily running and gunning as cowering behind cover.
Your companion is equally as inflicted, always charging forward, occasionally even past enemies who in turn pay no attention to him. I’ve even seen the moron hug the same wall as the guy he charged off to kill, the two then planted side by side on the same piece of cover as they ignore each others presence. A flaw that could have easily been bypassed by the presence of a friend in place of this AI controlled plank, but unusually Commando Libya doesn’t support co-op play. Probably a blessing more than it is a curse, however, as there are better co-operative experiences to be had elsewhere.
A statement that can be said of any aspect of the game. Despite boasting the use of the Unreal engine, you wouldn’t notice from the look of it that this game shares the same graphical power as the Gears of War series. Animations look awkward and stilted and characters speak without expression. There’s a boast on the box about how you’ll travel the world to different locations, yet with the exception of the opening Arctic levels, every other locale in the game re-uses the same brown textures painted on the same dull environments. Yet another curse of the modern action game.
There’s online support, with a few game modes and a healthy selection of maps on offer, but it’s a mode that’s pretty much dead on arrival. It’s possibly not helped by the lack of a multiplayer browser, here you have to physically enter another players IP address to connect to them making the whole process needlessly clunky. It’s hard to be disappointed though, this was never going to challenge the likes of Call of Duty, and it’s doubtful servers will be bursting at the seams with eager players either.
In actuality, Global Ops is never going to challenge anyone. It’s a patchwork of several better games that excel in the areas this one just barely scrapes through on. True, it can be fun on a simple mindless level, it won’t bore you during it’s short single player portion, but that has less to do with the actual quality of the game itself and more to do with the fact it simply succeeds in copying certain ideas from other titles already on the shelves.
Not much of a recommendation then. It’s cheap, and if you’re one of those people starved of military-themed shoot-em-ups at the moment, then you can do a hell of a lot worse. But looking at the release lists for the past couple of years, if you truly are desperate for yet another brown shooter in which you solve the worlds problems by killing hundreds of idiots with guns and demolishing developing nations, I might instead suggest something a little more sedate. Try a nice relaxing driving game or a garden simulator, it might not have the high octane thrills of Global Ops, but the change in colourful scenery might be a nice relaxant, which you’ll certainly need if you absolutely must play something that involved shooting things all the time.
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