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Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops Review

Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:26 pm

Ok, review time again...

Time played for review: 1 hour, 4 min.
CPU usage: 52% (evenly distributed across the four cores)
RAM used (MAX): 1,560 GB
Max FPS: 60
Min FPS: 14
Standard Average: 28-30

Settings in game:
Resolution: 1680x1050
Texture Quality: High
Shadow Quality: High
AA: On
Bloom: Off
V-Sync: Off

System specs:
Q6600 at 2.7Ghz
8GB Ram
HIS Radeon 6970
Win 7 x64

Right. Well to start, Shadow Harvest: Phanotm Ops is Black Lion Studios first game as far as I can tell. Being a new indie type studio, I always try to give them a chance and I always support these little studios. So here are my thoughts.

To start, the game installed and started without crashing or throwing some type of error, so, +1 right there. The company title intro looked well done and the professional looking main menu loaded up fairly quickly.

Inside the menus options, there are your basic (expected) graphics, mouse, controls, and audio settings. So already we are ahead of some recent games in terms of things to click on. The controls are fully customizable as well. So all total here, +1.

The game has no multiplayer option what so ever, so for the online gamers and aim-bot users, tough luck. For me personally I don't care for multiplayer, but for the sake of the public, I'll say -1, although multiplayer is not the “center” of the game. Co-op would have been a GREAT addition!

Game time... After a movie like opening, the game then loads the first playable level where you start off as a male Op in a Humvee and the drive and you talk about the operation that is about to take place. While riding through the town, I could not help but notice three things: 1) the mouse sensitivity is FAR TO SLOW for my taste. A quick navigation to the mouse settings and I saw my sensitivity was at 50%, so I moved the slider to 100%.....and it is still a tad low. But nothing to cry over (I'll explain later), so ill give no point here. 2) The graphics are “xbox” shiny. Like really, really shiny. D@#$ bloom.... so Bloom was turned off. Now the game was a little dark! I don't mind adjusting my monitor's contrast setting, but with just the game settings, your options are Gears Of War shiny or Doom 3 light vs dark kinda lighting. After a few min in though, I began to accept the darkness. So -1... unless this is patched. 3) The over all graphic look of the game is fairly high for an indie studio. Very good gun details, physics (as things slid in the Humvee) and such. Oh, the game DOES use PhysX for its physics engine. So, +1 for sure.

After getting dropped off, you are now given the ability to run around and begin your mission. Time to run around! First, the game's camera is over the a GRAW type of game/feeling. “Hello GRAW.” I said to myself. Movement is as expected in a third person shooter and things interact as so, thus the mouse problem is not a big problem here. You move and look around as if the player was real, not amped up on a type of Heroin. So for the NOT Call Of Duty design in terms of camera and action, +1.

After a few minuets pass and you get your weapons back, you can test them at a shooting range. Yep...GRAW kinda feel. For originality, -1. The weapon select system is very easy to navigate and things work out very smoothly, good job on not screwing this up Black Lion!

After I started started the official mission, I noticed the GRAW like diamond on the enemies in front of me, -1 (originality!!!) and how the guns kinda sound generic. I however though found myself focusing on killing the bad guys in front of me than listening to the sound. There is not a lot of down time when it comes to battles, kill or be killed. Something else caught my eye however...frame rate.
With the settings I posted at the beginning of the review, I noticed the game had a chugging feel to if the game was very “heavy”. After running Fraps, I then thought, “If I'm getting this kind of a frame rate with this system on these settings, other people are going to struggle.” Though the settings can be adjusted, I just left them alone, this way you can get an idea on what your system will be like with the game running “full throttle”. When heavy action starts and things explode, the frame rate dropped honorably. Lowest I saw was 14... For this, -1. This is not a Crysis type of visual overload, so the -1 is justifiable.

The AI are simply to me “standard”. Nothing exciting or amazing, they all just shoot at you and try to take cover...if they are not standing in the middle of the street. In this area, -1.

In the area of saves and checkpoints um, this I find intriguing. First there is no menu save option or even a quick save option that I could find. The game only saves at seemingly randomly placed checkpoints. The checkpoints are spread out fairly apart from each other and they do indeed seem to be places randomly. They do not occur in “down time” or inbetween fights, places. Kinda hard to explain but, interesting. Makes you think more about what to do instead of just running around like a online Halo player. So weirdly enough, +1.

+1!!!!! This for me is an auto +1, NON REGENERATING HEALTH!!!!! I can not stand the “take-cover-and-heal” system in games today, here, that is absent. In fact in normal difficulty, a few pops from the bad guys and your dead. It is not near as bad as Alpha Prime's damage model, but you do want to make sure you are not being shot by from the enemy. Med packs seem to be carried on some enemies and they can be found in hideouts too. So yay for this system.

A little into the game and multiple reloads later, I was then surprised by the switching of my player. I went from a standard Marine type fighter to a stealth type female character. So surprise switching of play types, +1.

Playing as Myra, I quickly began to laugh at the Splinter Cell style enemies. Those that seem to have been left out of the vision test or simple cognitive exams... Yes...the ones that go, “Well, nothing here I guess.” Although when spotted, you are aware that you are being seen by the fact that a Metal Gear Solid style alert system is used. The enemies “awareness” of you is show dead center of their chest. This is suppose to be a feature of your intelligent eye camera thing, but still, I found this concept WITH the dumb AI part a little saddening. Thus, -1. (Though it did feel better than the latest Splinter Cell.) What I will give a +1 for is the melee kill system Myra can do. Very nice and science-y. It was hard to decide +1 or -1 for the melee system, but I decided on +1 because it does come in handy and it is a fresh idea as I have seen.

I stopped about ten min into the Myra mission, so from here on I can not say what lay ahead. Though there are 12 missions in the game and with the amount of dying you will encounter, I say this will be a 6-8 hour game. Around 10 hours if you take your time and move with care.

With 15 points possible in the game, I totaled a +1. So the game is just above “Fair” in my opinion. The game is the perfect saturday shooter when you have nothing to do or if you just like shooters. I would say get the game for $14.99, if it goes to $10 with a few patches down the road and you are stuck indoors for a few days, passing the game up would be kinda hard. For the price now? I say get the game only if nothing else coming out in the next few months excites you. So far, it is a way better value than these recent $60 let downs!

Game on.
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