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SummaryFun, on many different levels
The GoodMy brother and I enjoyed the 360 demo for this game so much, that we rushed out and purchased the full version for XBOX... while graphically the 360 version is far superior, the quality of the game shines through even on regular old XBOX.
An innovative feature of the game is the "HotSwap" function, enabling a player to switch control from team member to team member throughout the course of a mission. This is great, because your character might become wounded and vulnerable, yet you can still switch over to any other team member within your visual sight to stay alive. Or, you might switch characters to move across the map quickly to reach a checkpoint or target more quickly than your character could by running.
The strongest feature was the multiplayer function via XBOX Live. One can never truly consider themselves the master of any game until they play online against other humans, the kind who sickly devote their entire lives to bettering their gaming ability! I felt that my skills got significantly better playing against other people, and there is no more satisfying (or frustrating when losing) way to experience a game than online.
Playing offline, I found the Campaign mode to be surprisingly deep. There were enough missions that it took me quite awhile to beat the full story. What keeps a player coming back even after the story is completed is the rating system. Each mission is graded and compared with goals in several categories: Score, Time, Accuracy, Teamwork, and Losses. Stars are awarded for each goal met, and stars earned throughout the entire campaign are pooled together to determine your rank (stars are subtracted for extreme loss of team lives). Earn enough, and you can be promoted to a higher rank. Achieving a certain amount of stars in a level can also unlock hidden Challenges or equipment upgrades for future use.
Ribbons are also awarded during gameplay for task-related achievements over a career, such as "100 kills with Special Ops pack" or "Perfect Clip" (all bullets in a clip resulted in kills). There are also little ongoing goals like destroying statues or sea mines whenever you come across them in any level. All these things are fairly unimportant, and not relevant to the story, but add extra challenges and goals for the completist gamer.
The last point worth praising is the Challenges section. As mentioned, Challenges are unlocked throughout Campaign completion. Ranging from vehicle challenges (Humvee, Helicopter) to weapon (Shotgun, RPG) to Hotswapping, each one asks you to complete a timed course to achieve a stated goal. Stars are again awarded for optimum times or scores. Another facet of the game that increases re-playability, trying to get that perfect score...
The BadSmall gripe, but I didn't like that the story in Campaign mode required the player to switch back and forth from mission to mission on both the China and US sides. One moment, you're fighting for America, and the next, you're fighting against America. It was an interesting idea, but you feel like you're not making any headway in the story when you're basically harming your future team with each successful mission.
Like a lot of teamwork/military games, your CPU-controlled teammates are basically useless to helping you accomplish your mission goals. I've watched groups of my teammates running out in the open against one enemy, getting slaughtered. I've HotSwapped to teammates who are driving the wrong way AWAY from our destination. I've HotSwapped to teammates standing in the corner of a building with their pistol out (instead of a more practical gun) aiming at the ceiling! All this can be really frustrating when you look on your map and you're going into battle alone because all your CPU teammates are dicking around elsewhere. Then, when your character dies, and you're swapped to a teammate, you get zoomed all the way across the map to the closest buddy who is nowhere near, and you have to repeat the process alone. Maddening!
It can be quite difficult to reach the goals set for missions, challenges, and ribbons. This is good, on one hand, because the game requires skill and precision (and practice) to perfect... but it's also frustrating at times when your best just isn't good enough.
One of the criteria for a good score is Teamwork, meaning that you HotSwapped often by switching characters frequently. The player is penalized for succeeding with one or few characters, and this doesn't seem right. I found myself HotSwapping randomly a lot at the beginning of missions or during slow times waiting for the next wave of attackers just to get my Teamwork stat up.
The final critical point I have to mention is the terrible Chinese voice acting when you're playing on their team. The voice-overs are clearly done by white guys trying to sound stereotypically Asian. It's godawful, but sometimes comical...