Silent Ops, Gameloft’s latest third-person shooter, is now available from the app store. While we really wanted to enjoy this offering as much as the plethora of quality shooters that Gameloft has released over the past couple of years, the horrendous AI, odd storyline, and surprisingly spotty controls drain most of the fun and excitement out of it.
Silent Ops Pros:
- Great-looking cut scenes and varied environments
- Decent soundtrack
- Variety of maneuvers, such as cover, climbing, and vaulting
- Multiplayer game modes
- Achievement system and multiplayer leaderboards
Silent Ops Cons:
- Terrible enemy AI
- Controls aren’t as tight as previous games
- Stealthy aspects are neither effective nor necessary
- Short single-player campaign
The story takes place over the course of a 7-level single player campaign, well shy of the typical dozen or so levels that can usually be found in a Gameloft shooter. You play as one of three agents over the course of the game, and the storyline revolves around an interrogation using some sort of serum that allows others to see your thoughts. Each level is the result of the Cardinal’s mind playing back certain past encounters, which each occur in a different location. The levels don’t take any longer than in other games, and in many instances, feel a bit shorter. It’s possible that the lack of enemies contributes to this feeling, as we often found ourselves running around different areas with nary a baddie in sight. Perhaps it’s because when the enemies do show up, they are often polite enough to stand still, not shoot, and die quickly when your character shoots in their general direction. The goal is to stop the spread of a virus that could potentially wipe out the human race. It’s a cliché problem in a game full of ho-hum, seen-it-before activities.
The stealthy aspect of the game comes in the form of sneaking up behind bad guys and silently killing them, taking cover behind objects during gun fights, and using a silenced weapon. None of these is all that stealthy, as enemies are constantly alerted to your presence, as indicated by the dial in the upper left corner that glows red when you’ve been spotted and positions arrows to point out the location of the enemies. Of course, this doesn’t matter much, since they don’t often fire upon you as they’d clearly rather martyr themselves one by one. You also need to be in the proper position to kill them, as having them in your visual range and placing your reticule on them isn’t always enough to take them out. It’s a horribly frustrating game that has plenty of potential but simply doesn’t execute in the end.
Graphically, Silent Ops isn’t quite on par with recent offerings, but it doesn’t look that bad either. There are tons of cut scenes that do look quite good, but you can’t skip them at all, which is frustrating if you find yourself replaying a section for one reason or another. Animations feel a little stiff, but generally ran smoothly. The soundtrack doesn’t live up to previous titles, either, and it fades way out during less hectic times. It gets the job done without overpowering or impressing. The controls are usually where Gameloft nails it time and again, but for some reason, they don’t seem as tight this go around. We did like the floating joypad for movements, but the swiping to change your viewpoint feels slow, jumpy, and, at times, unwieldy. The ironsights are helpful and switching/reloading weapons is a breeze. The attack button seems to work fine, though hand-to-hand combat requires a lot of button mashing with few punches actually being thrown. The cover button is highly unreliable, requiring you to be in a perfect position or facing a certain way to work as we’d like. Perhaps it’s because it doubles as a sprint button and is not a dedicated cover button, but it often took multiple tries to jump behind a table or wall. The climb/vault button works as intended, but the game almost throws in too many opportunities to vault objects, leading to an annoying blinking effect where the button flashes into and out of existence repeatedly while traversing a room full of desks, for example. Overall, Silent Ops just doesn’t feel right, and we’re more than a little disappointed with the finished product.
Replay value comes mainly from the inclusion of a multiplayer mode, with team deathmatch style play for up to 12 players across 7 maps. We found it a bit laggy and games to join were hard to come by. There are plenty of achievements to earn, and leaderboards to climb for the multiplayer mode, too. In all, it’s just not the game it could have been and it leaves us feeling very flat and indifferent. Available as a universal app for $6.99, Silent Ops is a dismal 3-Dimple bore.
Silent Ops Review,