Genre: First-Person Shooter/Real-Time Strategy
Publisher: Freeze Interactive
Developer: Digital Reality
Release Date: November 2006
Field Ops is one of the first titles to successfully merge both FPS and RTS into a single coherent genre. This is not the first game to attempt this – Battlezone and Battlezone 2 in the late '90s had similar approaches – but this is one of the best attempts at combining the best aspects of both genres without compromising either. This is neither an FPS with RTS elements nor a RTS with a splash of FPS – it works equally well as both. You may be wondering how this is possible, but the team at Digital Reality has developed their own proprietary game engine built to support this new paradigm.
The best part of Field Ops is that the transitioning between first-person and commander modes does not feel gimmicky in the slightest. This is exactly the way the game was meant to be played, instead of containing some hyped-up feature that winds up being completely shallow or useless in the end product. In the demo, it was shown in use when there were enemy targets behind cover, switching rapidly and seamlessly into the first-person mode to take headshots at enemy combatants and clear out their encampments.
This normally would detract from the RTS aspect of the game, since it would seem that such an ability to hit accurately on demand might appear slightly unbalanced. For all intents and purposes, if you're good at playing FPS games, then any unit you are personally controlling is going to be like a demigod on the battlefield compared to the simpler AI constructs. To help balance things out, Digital Reality implemented a number of features most frequently seen in tactical FPS titles, such as being able to give orders to the troops to peek out from behind corners to take shots or toss grenades. Many of these functions seem like the strategic additions often found in squad-based FPS games.
In general, any balancing issues here are fairly moot. When you're fighting against the computer in single-player mode, it doesn't really matter, and in multiplayer mode, you can bet that your human opponents are doing the exact same things you can do. That's balance of sorts, although if you are atrociously bad at FPS, you may have some difficulty competing with the more twitch-tastic gamers among us.
There are a number of "character classes" that each have unique weapon sets and role-defining abilities and costs. Part of the balance in multiplayer is a cost system where each character classes have differing values based upon their overall power level. For example, the Sniper may end up costing drastically more than the standard grunt. Because of this cost system, players will be able to customize their team at the start, purchasing the units that will work best for their particular style of play. The ability to customize a team should ensure that regardless of whether you are an FPS or RTS gamer, you can build a strike force custom-suited to your gaming desires.
Single-player mode will take you around the world to exciting locales such as Cuba, Afghanistan, Manhattan and the Ukraine. There will be a wide variety of maps set these environments for both the single- and multiplayer modes of play, offering everything from desert combat to urban brawls in the streets of a major city. The terrains look very good and are easily on par with Battlefield 2. The graphics are superb, even if they are not absolutely cutting-edge, which is a notable feat, considering that the developers are using their own proprietary game engine and not one of the several licensed engines out there.
After two years in development, Field Ops is coming along very nicely, and if it can get the attention it deserves and can actually manage to get people to give it a try, I believe it has the potential to be an excellent sleeper hit which could practically spawn its own new genre of Real-Time Strategy Shooters. Based on what we've seen so far, Field Ops will definitely be worth playing.
Inexhist's take: Speaking as a fan of the FPS genre, I can say that Field Ops looks to be an enjoyable squad-based strategic shooter. The gameplay is graphically reminiscent of Battlefield 2, which is quite impressive when you take into consideration the RTS style of things. Field Ops should provide me with the opportunity to game with friends who prefer to play RTS games. I am definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the multiplayer for some military-style conquering.
Reldan's take: As a fan of action RTS games, I was impressed by the way Field Ops offers many features to allow armchair generals to dynamically control their squads in the field. The ability to use almost any object on the battlefield as cover and have the game automatically adjust the number of soldiers you send behind shelter is very handy and should allow complex plans to be carried out quickly and efficiently. The corner-peeking is a definite FPS-oriented touch, but it is welcome here and makes sense. The part of the game I'm looking forward to more than any other is the multiplayer, as I think it will be a blast to play this with any FPS buddies, especially if they enjoy tactical squad combat (since I can move the rest of the units into intelligent positions while he takes the point). From my point of view, any unit your teammates are directly controlling might as well be considered a "hero" unit from an RTS point of view. Field Ops was one of the coolest games I saw at the show.
David "Reldan" Nadler also contributed to this preview.
Freeze Interactive, the fledgling Switzerland publisher is pleased to announce their new company online site, along with the official Field Ops website (which will also include Blogs) which has further been bolstered by Field Ops, the innovative PC title, own official forum.
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