Review by savedbygrace
It's hard to get this part wrong. A nicely customized image, text that summarizes superbly and added info to begin the immersive process of a good story line.
A good progression toward immersion here. Building upon the overview; the overlays, custom sound and screen information aid in plunging the viewer into the current status of the area of operation. In form of UAV footage, the player gets his first snapshots of what to expect. The camera angles were simple but smooth and relevant to each scene. Overkill was certainly avoided.
The briefing contained everything a good briefing should but more than what was needed. From background information to strategic intel, all was organized and in order and accompanied by a couple of map links but seemed to be repetitive in some areas. The gear selection was modest but the author wanted to keep the approach stealthy. This is great for operations that have the potential of remaining that way but the inevitable is that those machines must and will certainly light up the countryside when the detonator is mashed. Once that occurs, the enemy comes to life and the stealthy weapons no longer compare to what your counterparts pack with them. So, with that said, it may be worth the risk to snatch some weapons from enemy caches or cadavers. A negative side, is that the amount of typed intel provided, is very detailed but the markers do not reflect the same; some will make little sense but most are definitive identifiers. More links could have also improved the intelligence.
At mission start, you are promptly provided with a customized dialog for choosing 1 out of 4 possible insertion points. The inclusion of this feature is great but adds little to strategy since all insertions are not only by raft but from the same general direction. Once you have chosen your landing zone, you are provided with another customized dialog from which to select the difficulty. I recommend trying this one in all three selections. The player has control of only one of the other units at mission start but not during the briefing so, you won't be able to choose his gear. The other 3 units are joined to your group once you destroy the Shilkas but will have to catch up to you wherever you are, which can provide the prospect for some interesting escape and evasion tactics just to keep them alive. Alternatively, the player can have them join his group at any point after mission start by selecting it in the action menu.
Music is used to accomodate the tempo. Adjust the decibal level so that it does not intrude on gameplay and you have yourself a great mood enhancer.
Behavior indicators exceed that of the basic patrol demeanor in that green flares periodically fill the sky to demonstrate that all is okay in the area while red flares indicate trouble. Not that the blaring alarms and the sudden roar of horsepower across the hills doesn't alert the nearby rabbits but just something to help the player's nerves.
A very cool feature that you don't see in other missions, is the ability for the AI to react to a neutralized enemy. It's not active across the whole mission but it is in place where it needs to be. In addition, if you kill a unit attached to a group, you will have to eliminate the entire group within a dangerously small window of time to prevent them from alerting the others. So, with that mentioned, choose your kills wisely and hide the cadavers.
Another welcome inclusion to the mission is the use of particle scripts by vitja3000. This will provide some great visual rewards for your efforts; just don't get caught admiring the fireworks.
Complete stealth is definitely achievable up until you detonate your charges. Or if you enjoy a hard fought battle where the odds are against you, you can forsake stealth and approach the mission with aggressive abandonment. If you would like to enjoy the comforts of close air support during that battle, take out the AA quickly and you'll gain the firepower of an infamous tank killer known as the A-10 Thunderbolt. If you're looking to combat the armor yourself though, you'll need to use your satchels or an RPG off of a dead soldier, which are sparse.
Once you've completed the objective, you have 4 different extracts you can move to, each having their own opposition to deal with along the way.
Many hours were obviously poured into the cinematics of this mission to provide a rewarding show for the player. The music, voice acting and scripted scenes help to conclude the mission and provide an open endedness that allows room for sequels should the author wish/choose to follow up. Very well thought out camera angles, good timing of action sequences and special effects that light up the landscape. Good job here!
The AI reaction to fallen enemy is definitely an immersion multiplier. The mood music was better than most (and I am not a fan of music during a mission). The cinema was a perfect example of what authors should be striving to incorporate into their own work. Custom dialogs with difficulty settings and insertion options were also nice features/additions.
A completely thorough package that offers fun, challenging game play with a few replays to boot. Even though the mission advertises stealth, there is some good fun to be had through full combat too.