Review by HailStorm
The picture fits the setting well, featuring the main players in this mission, and the description does well to set the mood, though it doesn't describe the actual mission. Someone playing this for the first time will have no clue what he or she are getting into, except maybe the fact that it's an infantry mission.
The cut scenes, while not the best ones you're likely to see, are still pretty good and better than your average BIS-made fare. The intro is nice, and different - a good mix of setting the scene (starting as a scene from one of the target locations and then jumping into a briefing-style viewpoint) and peaking the player's interest - realistically implemented, while still providing something unique and new.
The use of a UAV-style aerial camera deserves special mention due to the fact the overlay is made entirely of line and shape commands - not a single image resource. Credit to whoever was responsible for coding it. The whole intro seems to be done with the mantra of 'simple and very effective'.
Oh, and for a bit of fun, try and pay attention to what the guard at the beginning is whistling; there are three different tunes, and each is recognizable (one more than the other two) out of place? maybe. But hey, if I was that bored, I'd whistle tunes like that too.
Simply laid out, and filled with enough information; it begins with a short paragraph explaining a bit of back story, and then goes on to list the objectives for each part of the upcoming operation - this mission uses teamswitch with much more prominence than a usual ArmA mission. As such, it lists the required objectives for two people. Objectives are marked out with markers, and are linked to the relevant bits in the briefing - the mission jumps around several locations, but the player should be well aware of where they are (and what's coming next) at any given time.
Gear selection is nonexistent but suitable, as the first section starts you off as a Special Forces operative. The mission makes up for this by later giving the player several chances to switch weapons throughout the mission (some of which will be obvious, and others hidden)
The notes page is filled with scene-setting text about another landing point, but it's kind of useless - I get the feeling that something a lot more substantial and useful could have been placed here.
As I mentioned previously, this mission has an ace up it's sleeve in it's creative use of teamswitch throughout the mission - during lulls in the action throughout the mission you can switch between playing as a specops commando or a rifleman in a squad, each with their own objectives which are tackled with their different playing styles. This in effect means you can play this mission several times and have a different experience each time, depending on whom you choose to play with. This increases the replay value of this mission significantly, without making the mission entirely random in nature.
The mission involves the attack of three separate objectives, and depending on who you are playing at the beginning of each one, the point of view changes dramatically - for example, will you participate in a frontal assault and take the enemy head on with your comrades, or instead sneak in the back while the main force acts as the diversion and cut off the hard-hitting reinforcements before they do some major damage? It’s completely up to you – such is the beauty of the teamswitch option’s implementation.
The difficulty of this mission isn't hard, yet isn't a pushover, either. Considering this is a straight-out infantry mission, with both squad assault and cloak-and-dagger undertones, it can be as hard or as easy as you choose it to be - if you aren’t as skilled at one type of playing style you can simply stick to the other, and still enjoy the mission. Likewise, you can choose the seemingly harder playing style if you want a challenge - as you can see, the freedom the teamswitch gives you in this mission has quite deep ramifications to the mission as a whole. Although some close-quarter battle (CQB) skills will certainly help you here, regardless of whom you choose to play, everything else can be either easier or difficult, depending on what you did (or who you played) previously.
For an ArmA stock mission, this seems to have a higher standard in the scripting associated with it. In-mission cut scenes are short but nicely done, with little subtleties that are a welcome addition.
During the mission itself, the little touches that might not seem much to the player at first glance, but when thought about are quite well done - text is displayed down the bottom, and there are little things like displaying the time and location when something significant occurs - much like a movie narration. Multiple outcomes are also catered for - e.g. if the player does something that is not correct to the mission plan (but doesn't compromise the mission as a whole) you'll still be able to continue, but the cut scenes and play status may change as a result of your actions, which is a nice touch.
There are a few discrepancies in the scripting however, the mission's objectives often rely on the elimination of a certain vehicle or troop to trigger as complete - which often becomes a problem when said critical objective either runs off and hides in some obscure place, or leaves the mission area entirely - something which many mission makers will attest happens more often than not. This becomes more serious a problem in this particular mission, as these 'objectives' are not explicitly implied in the briefing - they are just assumed by the mission author to be naturally eliminated during the course of the mission - a problem which brings the rating of this mission down significantly. Be prepared to do some hunting and/or waiting with time acceleration on, if this occurs. However, if the worst happens, and said target leaves the mission area completely, you may have to restart or revert to an earlier part of the mission, as you will fail the mission if you stray too far away from the mission area as a specop, or too far away from your squad if you're playing the regular soldier. A piece of advice to those playing this mission: use your saves wisely. Not because you may get killed (although there are plenty of opportunities for that), but because the mission may completely bug up on you and force you to revert back. Possibly multiple times. Try not to get too frustrated with it.
Most of the in-mission cut scenes are short, but sweet. Very well done, the use of different focal lengths, play speeds, and imaginative camera angles earn a special mention.
Cut scenes are also trigger-powered in parts, I had several instances where one cut scene failed to progress when the player's character had to board a Blackhawk - which never arrived (or crashed en route), leaving me staring at a blank hilltop until I restarted from a save.
Not technically a proper outro, it occurs as a cut scene before you go to the debriefing. Not too much, just a small conversation between the two protagonists. The outro features a few camera shots of the last objective, with simple wrap-up ending in the linking of the timelines of the two playable characters.
There is one star of this mission; forget the characters, weapons, or battlefields - the unequivocal star of this mission is the teamswitch. Sure, there are other missions out there that use the ability, but none quite make it such an integral part of the mission as this one - from the custom resources that make switching characters a simple mouse click, to how everything is expanded with cut scenes and set pieces tailored to the character you've chosen to play as.
It would be almost fair to say that this is practically two missions for the price of one; on top of that, the experiences have been intermeshed together in such a way that there are multiple ways to have a unique experience with each playthrough.
To be honest, I'd really like to rate this mission much higher; it has so much potential in it that it's almost a crime to give it his rating (of 7/10). But I can't help but feel if the scripting for objectives had been more airtight, or even scripted in a different way, this mission would be a winner. To be honest you will probably play this though, have a blast and not experience a single bug - but when something does break on this (and it probably will once you start 'getting creative' with your playing style) you'll be scratching your head wondering why it's sticking when you've seemingly done the objectives properly. The mission is let down by the trigger/script setup; it's a great mission, story is great, it's voiced very well, the teamswitch aspect is a great way to give the mission more re-playability without making things entirely random, cut scenes are top notch, but the bugs have the potential to make parts of this potential showstoppers.
To sum it up: great mission, a good benchmark that I’d like to see more community-made missions based off, but can be somewhat unstable. However, by all means, give this one a go. It shows a side of ArmA mission making that not many mission-authors have explored yet.
(note to those wondering why you shouldn't use the download on this page: this is an official mission made by BIS/505 games, and thus you should already have it if you bought the UK 505 games version, and/or patched your game previously up to or better than international patch 1.08)