Review by Cheetah
In a campaign the overview is a minor thing. Every mission overview has a picture taken from a particular scene in the mission, fine.
One of the things that shouldn't be overlooked in a campaign are the cutscenes. Mandoble did a good job in the cinematics department, telling the story in his own way. The cutscenes are to the point, generally without dialogues, and are meant to show the strategic movements of the Army. Dialogues are there, but they are spread thin and are of little value to the overall feeling of the campaign. Most of the cutscenes are action based: ships are being sunk, rocket systems fired and aircraft delivering their deadly loads get a close up. The cutscenes do their job, they suck the player deeper into the action. Of course there are some things which could've been done better. Several camera angles could've been improved or scenes shortened, some good dialogues are missing and there is no voice acting present in the campaign. Overall, a lot of well made cutscenes, but few great ones.
Briefings are important when cinematics are lacking, in Grunt ONE most of the story is told in its missions and cutscenes. This means that the briefings can be to the point and, in fact, are. Plans are rarely longer than one page and many notes sections consist of just a few lines. Most briefings don't add much to the overall feeling, but don't do wrong either.
There is a large variety of missions in Operation Urup: Grunt ONE. Sixteen missions are waiting for you in this campaign and they're all linked together and about of the same quality, which is something a campaign needs. Objectives go from investigating weird sounds to capturing high-ranked enemies. In one mission you'll be commanding your squad through a training area, whereas in another you'll have to keep them sharp to prevent damage to a SCUD. The missions can be divided roughly into three categories, Training, Urup Operation and Covert Operation. Do not make the mistake to misjudge the difficulty of any mission. You don't want an avalanche hitting your truck loaded with a chemical warhead, nor do you want a rival company to win the shooting contest. Usually a campaign features lots of short missions, not with this one. Mandoble brings to you a fine selection of missions with an above-average playlength. Numerous times a mission seemed to end, but didn't. This can cause frustration, but gives more joy upon completion. This campaign will keep you busy for roughly eight to ten hours, maybe more. You'll notice that a lot of work has been spent on the details. Fountains are working, civilians walk and drive everywhere and the number of objects used in some missions is enormous. A lot of towns and places have been redone. Take a look at for example Petrovice or the airport in the southwest of Nogova. The lag factor is non existent in most missions, in only two missions it could be a problem for older PCs. Many missions are challenging and full of additional stuff. Civilians reveal ammo depots and important information which can be used to complete a mission in a different fashion. The author also added a lot of details, for example, pay attention to hostages. One wrong grenade can make a husband pretty angry and your uniform won't stop him from attacking you. You'll notice the large amount of scripted events, like awesome missiles and a bus system. Missions can be challenging because of timers, hard objectives or well placed enemies. Some may find it hard to complete missions, be sure to check all possibilities and speak to civilians for information.
By using the radio you can do special things. There's a limited number of savegames available in most missions, as well as an option to skip a mission. What I found useful at times was the option to request a repeat of the last order, it's not available in later missions though. For me, the story of a campaign has to be discussed here, in the special section. Everything starts in a hotel, red lights, with three men sitting at a table discussing their plans. The atmosphere is set and can be creepy at times. The story is pretty good, although not much attention is spent on the personality of most characters. You get a pretty good feel of the character you're playing, the others remain flat. What may disturb some people is "The Forest", a mission where you do a routine guard. Love it or hate it, but don't let it stop you playing the other missions. I'm glad that the campaign story is decent though, some players may not like some (semi)-endings, most will.
In short, the campaign plays like an exciting and well-filmed action movie. With lots of video material of decent quality and lengthy missions keeping you occupied for many hours. Objectives can be accomplished in multiple ways, which opens up more possibilities for the player. A lot of details have been added and may keep surprising you during play, but won't cause severe lag. Custom voices would definitely make this a very high quality campaign, but getting lots of actors is almost impossible. The story seems odd sometimes, but all works and fits. Upon completion I was satisfied, some may not like the end but you'll find that out after having played 15 entertaining missions. I definitely recommend this campaign to everyone.