This budget-friendly shooter is set during the October 3, 1993 offensive in Mogadishu, Somalia, which was the subject of a book by Mark Bowden and the inspiration of somber narratives such as the Ridley Scott film Black Hawk Down and the game series from NovaLogic. Task Force Ranger puts players in the role of an Army Ranger, commanding a small squad. Gamers engage in modern urban warfare, making use of realistically designed military equipment including weaponry, HMMVVS ground vehicles, and Little Bird and Blackhawk helicopters. The game's ten single-player missions involve base defense, assault, hostage rescue, and capture operations.
The first-person shooter genre has grown by leaps and bounds over the past ten years. Thanks to tremendous improvements in gaming technology and software development FPS games have become one of the leading genres in gaming. It seems that with every great advancement in the FPS genre that a few games slip through the cracks that revert back to the "good old days." Army Ranger: Mogadishu is an example of one of those games that doesn't advance the FPS genre but instead relies on gameplay elements that were popular years ago.
Army Ranger: Mogadishu (AR-M) is based on events that occurred in Somalia leading up the historic battle that occurred on October 3, 1993. In case you're curious that was the day that two Blackhawk helicopters were shot down during a mission in Somalia. Now this is a nice change of pace for FPS games since we can finally skip past World War II and focus on more modern battles. But even though the events are different, the gameplay falls short; instead it seems the game focuses on gameplay from 1993 instead of 2005.
The first mission in the game was a rail gunner sequence were I was aboard a helicopter manning the machine gun. The only control I had during the game was to just shoot the enemies scattered throughout the level. The hostiles only had two weapons to use, a machine gun or a rocket launcher. The enemies would never move throughout the mission or look for cover. I was hoping that maybe the regular missions would be different with some stronger AI or level layouts, but I was wrong.
The next mission was the regular FPS gameplay we're all used to except from years ago. You were the lead Ranger in charge of a unit of three other Rangers. However, the squad-based commands were limited to two options, engaging the enemy or moving the rangers. Granted there were two different choices for each one, such as holding fire or engaging the enemy. The AI of the enemies was practically non-existent because the enemies would usually just stand in position and fire at you.
A typical level would have you walking through a stage only to have the enemy show up from nowhere. The hostiles would rarely move from the pre-rendered location they were programmed to move. There are no tactical maneuvers in the game when the enemies are attacking. They usually show up, stand in one spot, fire their weapons and wait for you to take them out. Repeat this pattern several times and that sums up almost the entire game. The only variation to the gameplay are the aforementioned rail gunner sequences (either by Helicopter or Hummer).
The graphics in the game are adequate but won't have you drooling at your monitor. The detail of the city stages are good but lack anything spectacular. I found it funny that the enemies were running out of the buildings but when I tried going inside of the same building a wall was immediately inside of the door. The animation of your character was practically non-existent when holding a weapon. Sure, the gun would fire but I never noticed my characters hand moving at all during the game. That might not be a huge issue but it just was another example of how this game might have been released years ago instead of 2005. Most of the textures and effects in the game get the job done but just don't compare to other FPS games being released today.
It just seems sad that with all of the improvements to FPS shooters in the last several years that this game couldn't keep up. If you want a quick and easy FPS game with no frills then AR-M might be the game for you. It doesn't overwhelm you with sensory overload in visuals or gameplay. No multiplayer options almost seems to be a crime for a modern FPS game. The limited squad-based interaction doesn't help to elevate the game to a higher standard. I know I'm repeating myself here but it needs to be said that if this game would have come out four or five years ago then it might have been more impressive.
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