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IGI2: Covert Strike

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Action

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PC Review - 'IGI2: Covert Strike'

by Tristan on April 19, 2003 @ 11:22 p.m. PDT

Date: March 4th 2003
Genre: Tactical Shooter
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Innerloop

Tactical shooters have come a long way over the years; from the Rainbow Six series to the Swat series; various titles have left their mark on the genre. As deities of their realms, it is hard to surpass or even compete with titles like these, but every now and then, a game comes a long that puts everyone in their place. Innerloop tried once before to give Swat and Rainbow Six a run for their money, with minimal success. Project IGI, the first in the two game series, hit store shelves in December of the year 2000. Various features in the game made it undesirable to play and hurt the sales of the game. None the less, it did make money and was still quite a popular game. Innerloop, after the game’s release, decided that the gaming community needed a tactical shooter that would destroy all other tactical shooters, Project IGI 2 was born, and so began the demanding task of creating a successful sequel.

Project IGI 2 is based around the adventures of a British operative by the name of David Jones. Jones works for an international agency known as the Institute for Geotactical Intelligence (IGI). At IGI he performs conducts various missions from assassinations to demolitions. In over 18 missions, Jones ventures across vast foreign terrains, in deserts, arctic mountains, and forests. With gadgets and over 30 weapons at his disposal, Jones single-handedly evades and destroys entire squads of terrorists.

At first glance the game was quite impressive, through various previews and word of mouth, IGI 2 looked to be an instant hit. When the game arrived, it didn't disappoint. Despite a lengthy installation (around 10 minutes) the game was easy to get started up. Unfortunately, the game shipped without an in-game tutorial, putting new comers to the genre at a disadvantage, but even without the tutorial, the game only takes about five minutes to pick up. After playing for a while, it became glaringly apparent that this game was going to be a crowd pleaser. With its 18+ missions the game provides well over 15 hours of playing in the single player campaign alone.

The enemy AI was quite impressive. As the game progressed, the AI moved in packs, took cover and reloaded as their clips ran dry. Sporting a sophisticated AI design, the enemies seek cover before attempting to reload. In keeping with the AI, Innerloop shipped IGI 2 with three available skill levels. Each skill level is expertly designed to provide new, average, and expert gamers with a nice challenge.

An issue all on its own from the first game is the unlimited number of guards that flowed out of the guard house when the alarm was sounded. In the first game, it was terribly annoying when the alarm was set off, for an infinite number of guards poured out of the barracks. Seeing this as one of the original game’s downfalls, Innerloop fixed it up for the sequel. In IGI 2, each barracks houses around 10 troops at a time; so at any given time when the alarm is set, ten and only ten, guards pour out of the barracks. This makes dealing with alarms actually manageable on the hardest skill level.

As a tactical shooter, stealth is a tactic that is employed quite a bit in this game. The ability to sneak up and quietly break an enemy’s neck is often used when the player is not slitting throats or sniping patrolling guards. It is in a player’s best interest to avoid confrontations all together, hence the use of stealth tactics. If ones position is compromised, it is possible to finish the mission in a full fledged fire fight, but it is very ill advised.

Even the best of games aren't without their faults and IGI 2 is no exception. The story line, although rich in twists and turns, isn't very original; a “done before” feeling looms over the story for IGI 2. Sporting the terrain of a flight simulator, one would think that the games boundaries would be infinite, but that is not the case. For most of the game, the player is either surrounded by walls or hills, limiting his/her options. The boundaries are not really a problem, but it would have been nice to be able to go anywhere. At the beginning of the game, the ability to control the parachute jump would have been quite nice, but again, it didn't really hurt the game. The odd time that the player is forced to swim, he/she has no ability to dive down, the player is only able to swim on the surface; again, just a little detail that would have made the game a tad more realistic.

The awe of the game play in IGI 2 does not wear off when the visuals come into play. This game was by far one of the most visually impressive tactical shooters of all time. Almost ahead of its time in the crisp reflective water, exquisite player models, and intricate environments. Innerloop really delivered in the visual department with this game. The player models were quite impressive, sporting detailed facial expressions. The environments also helped this game tremendously, littered with foliage and various objects to give that realistic touch that games these days strive for. The use of the graphics engine for cinematics was also very impressive as each mission was introduced by an in-game cinematic. Although the explosions were nice, they were nothing to brag about.

As good as the graphics were, there were a few faults in the graphics engine. The crisp visuals gave the weapon models almost a “cartoonish” look to them. There was also a glitch that Innerloop has pointed out and that is at lower details, the ground textures flicker and move as the player moves.

The game was also lacking in enemy player models, it would have been nice to see a diverse selection of enemy models. As well, the vehicle models were nothing special, but that was really overshadowed by the strengths of the game. One thing that this game and every FPS could benefit from is Volition’s Geo-mod technology that made Red Faction famous. It is that little ounce of realism that makes a difference in to days games.

The sound in IGI 2 was superb just like the graphics; the game was complimented by a strong techno-type soundtrack and great environmental sounds. As Jones runs through snow, gravel, dirt, there are detailed sounds for each surface. Along with that, wind and rain can be heard as the player plays through each level. The use of surround sound for this game was key, in that it was great to hear bullets wiz by and hit right behind you as you ran through an alley immersed in a violent fire fight. Another key sound in this game was the amazing mp5 sounds. The sounds for this weapon were by far the best mp5 sounds to date.

While the sounds were great, the voices were a little on the cheesy side. Throughout the majority of the game, all character voices were monotone, and the script was quite weak. The diversity in enemy voices was also a disappointment, as every enemy in the game sounds pretty much identical. Another fault in the sounds was the weak silencer sounds. A *thump* instead of a *thip* would have been preferable, taking more advantage of bass instead of treble.

Included with IGI 2 was a relatively nice multi player mode. The multi player is as nice as tactical DM (death match) can get. Nothing spectacular or special here, just a strong component that adds to the game. The map selection in multi player was also quite nice.

In the long run Innerloop dished out one of if not the best tactical shooter to date. With the strong AI, mission objectives, and weapon selection, the game is ranked up there with Swat and Rainbow Six. As mentioned before, although from visual and audio standpoints this game is a masterpiece, it isn't without its faults. The lack in enemy models, a weak story line, and monotone voices hurt this game, but not enough to deter anyone looking for a good time. This game is a game that can be played more than once and can compete with the best titles in its genre. Anyone looking for an exciting, challenging, and picture perfect, tactical shooter won't be disappointed when they play Project IGI 2.

Score: 8.5 / 10


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