Review by Denz
The author has used a slightly different approach for the overview. Included is a quote from Ernest Shackleton that fits very nicely with the overall plan of the mission.
The Intro is used to explain the background of the mission and how you ended up in the predicament you're in. The camerawork is good and the chosen music really helps to add some emotion to the Intro. It's only let down is that a few scenes could have done with being pre-loaded.
The briefing is... err brief but then the background is all told in the Intro. At the start you have just a couple of objectives but these will update as and when certain conditions are met. The Notes section is given over to the instructions on using a weapon that you will get your hands on later in the mission.
Punishment Battalion is set on a Sahrani under martial law. You take the role of Robert Jordan incacerated and forced into the SLA's Punishment Battalions. After gaining your freedom you set about creating your own resistance group. Right from the start, several choices are on offer as to how you set about this task. The order you choose to proceed affects your mission experience to some degree giving you plenty of options for replayablity. There are a certain amount of RPG elements to the mission. Your burgeoning squad begin as inexperienced rookies and it's advisable to get them trained up a little before attempting the big objectives.
Of course, you will need to arm your band of followers for all possible occurances. Your source of weapons and equipment is naturally the SLA. A word of advice, think small to start with, ambush some patrols and hit isolated outposts. Manage to impress the established local resistance and they will join you in the fight. The author has provided locations to serve as arms dumps but it's easier to just use your vehicles as a travelling arsenal although should one of these be lost it can have catastrophic consequences.
The mission area is huge, covering most of North Sahrani. Your mission objectives criss-cross the breadth of the mission area. As you can imagine there is alot of driving involved and the author has thoughtfully provided a radio for your to listen to the music tracks from the game which breaks the monotony as welll as serving as a nice accompaniment to the "bonus game" - running down enemy foot patrols *evil grin*
One aspect that lets down Punishment Battalion is that the island doesn't really feel "alive". That's not to say that everything is set in place. SLA patrols and outposts can be encountered pretty much anywhere, tangle with one of these and you an be sure other SLA forces will turn up to investigate. I know Sahrani is under martial law but a couple of extra civilians around would have added a little more atmosphere.
Once you have a few objectives under your belt and your squad is seasoned and well equipped you are ready to go on the offensive. You won't be alone in the assault though, with both major objectives you have the option to call upon some assistance to help you in your struggle. These still shouldn't be fought as anything like a pitched battled. Keep a wary eye out though as reinforcements will come so, like the majority of the mission, have an escape route ready. The motto for Punishment Battalion is...hit 'em hard and hit 'em fast then get the hell out of there.
A well shot, emotive outro ties up the story nicely.
There is a high standard of scripting and the author has invented a good technique to cut down on possible lag in a mission of this size. The exceptional voice acting has to be mentioned. Plus there is the music and sound effects that play an important role throughout the mission to enhance the dramatic effect.
What can I say, it's a great mission. Be prepared to put some time and effort in though to really get the full experience of Punishment Battalion. This mission goes along way in emulating the feel of guerilla warfare. This is not the mission for Rambo types. To really get the most from it, you must utilise your greatest weapons; timing and tactics "hit and run" style.
In a nutshell, Punishment Battalion is a must play mission. So what are you doing still reading this go on and play it already!