Review by bert
Overviews are a basic affair with a simple picture and a small amount of text. Perfectly adequate for a campaign.
There are varying degrees of quality to the the cutscenes of which there are quite a few during the campaign. All but one of the missions have an intro and all have some in-mission cutscenes. Most of the intros are decently connected to the mission that follows. Unfortunately the one that stood out to me happened to stand out for the wrong reasons. In the offending intro, the player's character is seen boarding a Stryker, which you simply get to watch driving to an unknown destination for the next two and a half minutes or so and that's it, no character development, no hint of a destination, that's it.
Most of the other intros do, thankfully, either add to the story or give you an idea of what's going to go on in the mission although most are a bit vague for my liking. There are no custom voices for the many conversations which take place in any of the cinematics. The subtitles are in rough English although that can't really be helped as English is not the Author's first language.
A lot of the missions have some small in-mission cutscenes which add a little information to the overall picture. Some of them were a little on the long side and dragged a bit though.
One thing that is worth mentioning is the good use of custom music for some of the cutscenes.
The briefings all follow the same simple layout with most, if not all of the situation, objectives etc. being in a single, long paragraph. Splitting them in to multiple paragraphs would have really improved things. There are no equipment selections for any of the missions, which can bite you a bit as you are a lone wolf for the whole campaign.
All map links work correctly and objectives are decently marked on the map.
The notes sections are better utilised than the main briefing section and are usually used to give some info on troop numbers, the weather etc.
There are 6 missions of varying types to The Recluse that go from a (hopefully) quiet reconnaissance mission to start with, to a full blown assault on Pita airbase as the finale. Most missions are of the stealthy night time or dawn/dusk variety. In all missions, you act alone, although you are usually fairly close to friendly forces. As missions go, they are quite basic, repetitive and often a bit on the easy side. In a few missions, you are required to destroy some kind of high value target, it was too easy to run to the objectives, plant your bombs and run off without the AI knowing a thing until the fireworks begin. In such a mission, a more robust defensive pattern would usually be expected. AI behaviour was generally quite predictable with patrols following rigid, and therefore predictable, routes.
One thing that did strike me, was a poor use of infantry addons in some of the missions. It's not uncommon to see soldiers in woodland cammo, ACU and MARPAT in the same scene at times. One addon would have been fine as far as I'm concerned.
Most missions are fairly good fun, although a bit basic. There was one that was pretty horrible to play though due to the effect that lots of light sources have on the HDR system and NVG's in particular. Although not entirely the authors fault, I feel that the author really should have tried to work around this a bit better.
Some lone wolf type missions tend to put the player up against near impossible odds, thankfully this is not a problem here, indeed a few situations feel far too easy to work through.
The story is a bit lacking for my taste in this campaign. You never really know much about the main character, Nicholas Berg, except that he's a retired veteran of Somalia in 93 and that he can somehow get revenge for what happened to his squad. You never know why there is conflict on Sahrani and why the Russians have waded in.
The lack of any voice acting for cutscenes and radio messages is a bit of a killer for the immersion in both cutscenes and during the missions. There are some custom radio sounds, but this does not make up for proper voice acting though, the rough English used for the subtitles only compounds this.
Finally, the missions don't feel like they are particularly well linked at times, it even felt as if there should have been at least one extra mission between the second and third missions in order to carry on the story.
A very basic, albeit playable campaign. Whilst not immensely re-playable, it is good for a few hours of reasonable game play. For a first attempt at mission and campaign design it isn't bad.
Gaps in the story and some poorly linked missions hurt this campaign and the basic design and lack of some elements such as voice acting give it a feeling of being unfinished more than anything. I can't help that feel that it would have really benefited from a fair bit of extra work.
Finally if you don't like lone wolf type missions, don't bother with this campaign. If you like sneaking around and blowing things up and can live with a few gaps in the story then there is some fun to be had from The Recluse.