The squad-based Spec Ops series initially hit store shelves in 1998 with Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way -- Pro Pack, followed quickly by Spec Ops: Ranger Team Bravo, which added an additional 25 missions. Spec Ops II: Green Berets continues the elite squad action with yet another 25 missions set in Germany, Korea, Antarctica, Pakistan and Thailand, and includes four training missions to get you started. Missions focus on a diverse range of actions such as infiltration, hostage rescue, search, raid and destroy, evacuation, escape and evade, ambush, patrol, locate and secure locations, anti-terrorism, and neutralization of weapons.
Three difficulty levels adjust the number of hits that can be absorbed by your force and enemy squads. First- and third-person perspectives are available, as well as viewing through binoculars, night vision, and scopes. Gameplay includes switching from squad member to squad member (up to four) and controlling your squad through commands (e.g., follow me, hold up, move up, hit the dirt, and so forth). Successful completion of missions leads to promotions, medals, and improved abilities.
Spec Ops II: Green Berets offers online action over a LAN or the Internet and features deathmatch, team versus team deathmatch or mission, and King of the Hill modes. Multiplayer options include number of players, maximum enemy AI reinforcements and player spawning limits, number of friendly kills allowed before removal from the game, and time limits. Note that the online lobby for Green Berets is separate from Ranger Team Bravo action.
Spec Ops 2 offers you a good number of levels, 5 campaigns (Antarctica, Korea, Pakistan, Thailand, Germany) with a total of 26 missions which you can complete in any order you choose. They also offer a full training course. To help you through these levels, you have a total of 19 weapons available, plus the usual grenades, claymores, and satchel charges. There are even preset loadouts for your Rangers as you can select from Infantry, Demolition, Sniper, Grenadier, Close Quarters, and Machine Gunner. The weapons loadout screen can be a little annoying since a lot of the time, you can't just switch from one weapon to another without clearing your inventory, and completely starting over from scratch. No need to worry though as the game offers you the very cool option of picking up your dead enemy's weapons. Up to 3 weapons can be carried at any time in the game. I do have a big problem with the inability to select the number of teammates to bring with you. You are assigned a certain number for each mission.
The game offers 3 difficulties; Private, NCO, and Officer. Just as in the first game, all are way too hard. Even at Private this game will be unusually difficult for a lot of players, which will do nothing but turn you on to this game and make you want to play it more. This game in some ways is like Rainbow Six, the baddies seem to be mostly placed around the corners camping, and just waiting for you to pop around the corner. In Spec Ops however, its usually 2 shots and not 1 that will kill you as in R6.
The campaigns are all different and give you a good variety, spanning from snowy mountains, to jungle, to desert, to a shipyard. I have a very big problem with the Jungle levels. Many of these levels take place in the dark and you are forced to use night vision goggles, or (if available) your infrared sniper scope. You move through slowly and carefully just to get shot and killed by a guy in a bush that there is no possible way you could have seen. In my opinion, this game really could use a quicksave feature. I think you'll agree too on your seventh trip through mountains and into the enemy base just to be killed by a guy sitting around the corner as you finish up the mission.
They also offer you the ability to add random enemies to the game, so you never know quite where they are. There does seem to be a bug with this option on certain levels though. When I first turned Random Enemies on, in the very first level of the game, my team and I were attacked from all directions by a never ending army of baddies. No matter how many we killed they kept coming and coming. Other levels the feature worked fine, and you never knew exactly where they would be, but there weren't very many of them. The impression I got from this option is 1) you are either endlessly attacked by an infinite amount of enemies until your team is dead or 2) you have a hard time finding bad guys at all.
I can forgive most of what I already listed, however one unforgivable problem in this game (or any game) are problems in the area of control and gameplay. Controls need to be very quick, responsive, and accurate. The controls in Spec Ops 2 offer none of these. The controls are slow, sluggish, and difficult. You'll quickly find that you can't strafe and move forward at the same time, which makes strafing around wide or tight corners very difficult and dangerous. The time it takes for your character to stop strafing, move forward, and strafe again is awful. There is about a half second pause between movements, and it is totally unacceptable. Looking up and down is difficult and seems to drift off slightly to one side as you look up, making shooting people that are up high difficult and frustrating.
You will also quickly notice that as you move forward, you don't have any type of aiming mechanism. You can fire and move forward, which will bring up your gun's sight, however you must continue firing or else you will lose it again. They might have been aiming for realism on this, but if this is the case than there should be a walking "ready to fire" position that you'll see in any SWAT or Special Ops team in real life. This game feels the need to not offer this. Your ranger can stand, crouch, or go prone. Stand and Crouch work fine, when you lay your character down is when you hit problems. The control gets jerky, slow, and just impossible to aim. Forget about tracking someone with a sniper rifle if you are laying down. This is an option you will rarely use because of it's problems.
What about the Graphics, Sound, AI, and Multiplayer? Well, one good thing about this game is it runs very smoothly. I was able to easily run the game at 1280x1024x32 with no slowdown. The graphics are not groundbreaking and won't compare to games such as Unreal Tournament or Soldier of Fortune, but they get the job done. You will definitely notice that the flashlight doesn't work. The first time I used the flashlight, it lit up the top of a tree I wasn't even pointing at. It also decided it likes my partner's feet, which it usually lights up when I point at him. Never in this game has the flashlight lit up the ground, walls, or anything of value. Sometimes it might light up your whole character's body, long enough for you to see the engine's ability to cast shadows. Or should I say attempt to cast shadows. It is really just a bunch of black circles projected on the background, and are actually very ugly and ineffective. The only other complaint I have about the graphics are the weapon models. All 19 of the guns in this game are made up of maybe 10 polygons, every weapon looks more like a rectangular block than a gun.
The sound of this game is actually very good. If it offered full surround and EAX effects I would have been very impressed. Even on two channels, the sound does a very good job at putting you in the action. The enemies yelling in foreign languages, the gun sounds are realistic, and the bullets flying around you definitely make your palms sweat. With a little more work this sound would be top-notch. I wish I could say the same about the rest of the game.
The AI of the game is awful and not really fixed since the original Spec Ops. Your teammates will still get lost going around a corner and they will still (although not as often) kill themselves in strange ways. When I first started playing the game, my partner died trying to get over a fence. They don't follow your orders very well. You have the option of giving them orders from a little menu you control with your mouse. They follow those orders, however you probably won't use them much since the AI is so horrible. They will run straight into fire and die. If you're lucky he might kill an enemy before he gets killed.
The multiplayer section of the game works very well, although at first I got thrown out a few times before the game started up. This only happened the first couple of times I tried to play and hasn't happened since. The multiplayer allows you to pick the terrorist team or the Spec Ops teams to play as, and is pretty fun. All in all the multiplayer does help to add some variety to this monotonous game.
To sum all of this up, you can learn to like this game to a certain degree. I did occasionally have some fun working my way through some of the levels. The control problems make the learning curve very high, but you learn and get used to it. The game's repetitiveness and very high difficulty turned me off and the other problems, big and small, kept me away.
People who downloaded Spec Ops II: Green Berets have also downloaded:
Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way, Sid Meier's Pirates!, Special Forces, Soldiers: Heroes of World War II, Sid Meier's Antietam!, Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles, TacOps, Steel Panthers 3: Brigade Command (1939-1999)
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