This prequel to Metropolis Software's Odium (published as Gorky 17 in Europe) has PC gamers once again assuming the role of NATO secret service operative Cole Sullivan, to play through one of the commando hero's first missions. The objective in this operation is the investigation of an old Soviet laboratory, purportedly abandoned after the breakup of the U.S.S.R. While its exploration and combat gameplay are based on successful elements of Odium, Gorky Zero places a greater emphasis on stealth. The hero still has skills with a firearm, but the best way to neutralize an enemy threat is most often to sneak up behind for a surprise attack.
I think it's fair to say that most gamers get jaded with bandwagon-jumping and "of the moment" stuff in games very quickly. That being the case, we must all be as jaded as a lump of very large Jade when it comes to stealth. Metal Gear Solid kicked it off all those years back, and Splinter Cell has taken it to the next level. A special mention must also go to the Thief games that have also been doing the whole stealth thang for an age. The Metal Gears and Splinter Cells lead the field in this area by quite some distance, but that doesn't stop efforts like Gorky Zero and Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma trying (in vain) to ride on the coattails of their success.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing original or inspiring about Gorky Zero; the big deal made about switching from 3rd person isometric to 1st person was done with Metal Gear Solid ages ago, and countless games ever since.
The game has a predictably disposable story involving ex-Russian majors, brainwashing technologies, secret research bases....and zombies, all set up by quite a nice mission briefing scene at the beginning (featuring dust-motes in the projector's beam). After some "virtual training" (hello again, Metal Gear Solid) involving a woman with the most stilted voice I've ever heard (was she supposed to be a robot? A talking computer? I just don't know) talking you through it over your codec (hello again....), you're dumped, via heli, into the outskirts of said base.
It's customary in most games to have a period of adjustment involving the controls, but I just never seemed to be able to map out the controls (and there aren't many) in a way that enabled effortless stealth and subterfuge; instead of crouching I'd suddenly go into 1st person mode, or, instead of going into 1st person mode I'd start running - maybe this wasn't the game's fault, rather my ham-fisted attempts at button remapping, but there's a sneaking (ho-ho) suspicion in my mind that this game was designed with a control pad in mind rather than a keyboard and mouse combo - or maybe this type of game is just better suited to consoles?
Onto the gameplay and graphics. In a word, adequate. The default third-person/isometric view is painfully restrictive; so much so that you have to constantly keep switching between 1st and 3rd person views in order to even have a clue what might be waiting for you around the next corner. Attacking your enemies in either view is a completely haphazard affair that usually involves you taking more lead in your body than giving it out. The fact that your enemies' skins all seem to be made of Kevlar also doesn't help matters - these guys take loads of bullets before they succumb to an awful pre-scripted death animation. Another trait of the enemy is that weird and wonderful "sixth sense" to spot you in the most unlikely of circumstances - hiding in shadows will make precisely zero difference as to whether or not you're spotted and subsequently pummeled with bullets.
The environments (bar the obligatory exploding barrels) are almost 100% non-interactive. In an age of Havok physics, and games like Max Payne 2, Far Cry, Hell, even Metal Gear Solid 2, to have an environment that is there purely to steer you through a path with absolutely no interactivity on the way suddenly feels just soooo last century, darling.
In the former Soviet Union, a dangerous sect is depriving people of their own personality and turning them into obedient human robots, to misuse them for terroristic means. The European Union decides to put an end to these misdoings and briefs Cole Sullivan to make this mission a success. Not after long, Sullivan sees the truth behind it all. He discovers a story that is different from the version he was told by his superiors. A merciless war begins - and it's a matter of life or death.
Gorky Zero combines tactical combat with merciless action and offers the player a cinematic story with varying story lines. The unique, user-friendly interface offers an extremely simple start, even for genre-newbies. High enemy KI: enemies react to every sound and every change of the situation. The player fights in 3rd person perspective to aim and fire precisely. In the iso-perspective the player can intelligently carry out his plans. An extensive arsenal of weapons, explosives and special equipment such as radars, scanners or night-vision devices give the player an unbelievably large amount of possibilities to solve the missions. New rating system: At the end of every mission, the player can see how well he has done.
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