Review by Archangel Scream
Firstly, this isn’t a campaign - it's a mission pack. A campaign follows a character, builds them up, makes the experience of playing a character somewhat believable, especially through cutscene use throughout the campaigns. This one does not.
Apparently, you do play a single soldier in this mission pack - a single soldier who is an ace chopper pilot, black op, infantry private, fighter pilot, tank gunner…
There are very few cutscenes - mostly gratuitous editor driven shots of units and nothing on character interaction. Basically, it's missions of varying quality and some cutscene work all lumped together.
However, a common problem repeatedly rises it's head in the way of bad use of waypoints. In other words, squads are simply waypointed to areas, and no modifying triggers are used. It's all fairly basic stuff that really asked sometimes for additional scripting.
So there is no real attempt at realism in using enemy units - triggers are not used to alert units to combat mode or reinforce, so often you can pick off a few Sovs while they're comrades just plod about. If alarmed, they run around for a bit and then return to stand at their start positions.
Another important issue is that in most of the missions, static armour units are asleep, remain asleep. This is *very* bad in air missions, because the radar shows all static units as white - so you cannot tell which white blocks represent destroyed units or simply sleeping ones.
On the plus side, there is usually a good choice of weapons, and there is some nice creative thinking and an eye for choosing good mission arenas. Most of the missions are competently constructed - mission briefs, maps, objectives that work, and the missions themselves generally have had *some* thought gone into them - but generally each one is lacking the polish that an individual release would have.
Generally, most of the missions would average at around 5-6 out of ten. Some of the better missions would score around 7, and would probably be better tidied and tightened for single-player release.
Oh - and there's a heavy reliance on waypoints so it's probably best not played in veteran mode.
1 - Bird of Prey
You're a sniper, dropped off with a small team to help soften a small Soviet base. When you're ready you call the tanks in. A fairly straightforward game that made for a good mission opening, it basically involves your hiding in trees with a couple of sniper friends, picking off Sovs from an elevated point. There was a slight issue with the erinforcing tanks not always following their waypoints, though. Generally, a simple and decent mission, though.
2 - Eye of the Needle
A basic attack the town with a few support squads. This is an updated version of the mission of the same that appeared in SharkEye 1, and far less frustrating. There's little to say - other than it's a standard fortified spread.
3 - Paving the Way
This was one of the most annoying and hardest missions in the pack. You fly a chopper ahead of a convoy, your task being to clear the road of enemy units. Firstly, you have to be very sparing of your ammo - this takes a little practise to work within the time constraints. Luckily, all 11 armoured units and the various East MGs are all asleep and good targeting will easily destroy them. But it's the infantry you have to worry about - some at roadblocks are easy to clear. It's the small roving squads that are most annoying - they can be *very* difficult to spot from the air, even in cadet mode, and no matter what you do, you're likely to lose a lot of your convoy. And unless you've played enough times to locate where those squads are, you'll likely not finish this mission. I found it simply damn annoying.
4 - Silent Killer
As a black-op it's your job to sabotage enemy aircraft. You have company to help, but unless you use them well, you're likely to be spotted on the mission forfeit. Even though the construction is pretty standard, I thought it the best of the pack - this is a black-op mission where a little thought helps greatly, but even still, the Soviets *will* put up a good fight when challenged. There's some nice troop movement once the main objectives are finished, which nicely extends on an already decent tension.
5 - Turret Training
Tank practice - sit on a runway, aim at static tanks and then infantry to ensure they don’t run past you or mission failed. A simple, almost fun mission - but really, there's no reason for it - if you cannot fire a tank you won’t really be playing OFP anyway.
6 - Overwhelming force
The Soviets have sent a landing party to a small island NATO still has a base on. So you get in the chopper and blast lots of little boats. Fairly fun but insubstantial, in that the island base actually has no base on it. There was an issue with an end trigger not activating on one occasion, Generally it should present few problems, though.
7 - Resistance Rally
The Resistance attacks the NATO forces for unknown reasons, so you have to infiltrate them to gather intelligence. Here your resistance friends go to a midnight rally. Somewhere in the pitch black a few Soviets turn up shooting, but are shot dead before you can turn your monitor contrast up fully.
8 - Mole
You drive a truck while 200m ahead a spy is trying to escape in a Trabant. It's your job to run him off the road and kill him before he reaches the Soviet base. A very simple mission and a nice idea. It's a good campaign mission, so it's a shame that the continuity between the different missions is generally so weak.
9 - For the Resistance
You're faced with a small series of objectives - accompanied the the head of the Resistance's two sons. They die, you die…so you leave them in the forest and do it alone. The idea is to clear a few roadblocks, then steal a tank. Er, no…tank first, the rest is much easier. Straightforward with possible fun potential, so long as you watch out for enemy armour and AT soldiers.
10 - Escape
Now it's time to reach NATO lines. But wait…that means crossing Soviet territory? Not really - just turn the game to 4x speed and run there, avoiding the roads. Apparently, you could make a Soviet base to steal a vehicle, but really…
11 - Lightening Strike
Oh, bugger - I hate using planes in OFP, but you've now spontaneously turned into a fighter ace. So long as you can fly you're okay. There are only a handful of sleeping-never-wake-up armoured targets to bomb - just be sparing with your ammo or you'll be trying to destroy tanks with bullets, which is *not* fun.
12 - Full-scale offensive
It starts out with you in among at least two dozen infantry running over hills. It reminds of the larger BIS mission for a moment. But of the two villages you need to secure, there is less than a handful of enemy troops in each. Overkill with heavy casualties on your part. Then you have a long run of about 1.5 km to reach another group to begin a concerted attack on another village. There's some nice fighting, but it's likely that you'll be one of the last friendly troops alive, scurrying around scavenging RPG for those half-sleeping tanks the Abrams didn't even know were there - until it was too late. This could have been a much better mission if given proper attention.
13 - Tank Assault
Lead an armoured column to clash heads with the Soviet heavy armour - take a fortified position, then prepare for an armoured counter attack. Even if, like me, you're useless at tank commanding, you should be fine - just set the co-ords and roll and your crews will do the rest. Luckily, there's an empty Soviet tank in the base, so if you'd like, you can jump in as the gunner and take a fuller role in repelling the heavy Soviet armour coming to counter attack.
14 - Shilka Swoop
Your typical black-op mission. Land on the coast and neutralise a pair of Shilkas which have limited infantry support. The worst part is the 3km boat ride at the beginning. 4x speed again, which always breaks the reality of play. Fairly simple and easy to finish.
15 - Chopper Ambush
In this Hinds have been using a deep ravine on the coast to hide and then ambush friendly units. You lead three choppers into copying the same tactic as a Soviet chopper group crosses the island. Some fun to be had, but you'll likely loose your buddies. Lots of chopper combat which no one should have *too* many problems with.
16 - Wood of death
I realised a while back that the woods near Larche would provide a great opportunity for some nasty close combat. This mission uses that aspect by ordering a sweep through a particular section for soviet stragglers. But it's a little frustrating - seems those Sovs can shoot 200m through trees and bushes, which is quite annoying, especially as the waypoints lead you broadside of their camp. You've got to be very cautious to complete this mission, but I became too annoyed after a while to find it much fun. Choice of women's, though.
17 - Unto the Breach
You're the gunner in a platoon of M1A1's. You are driven along, get to shoot some armour and infantry on a long journey, clearing the way for a convoy. After that, you're supposed to assault another town but the trigger for progressing seems a little iffy. Try exiting the tank and re-entering to continue the mission.
18 - Metropolis Assault II
Lead a large squad against La Trinite - which has expanded with a lot of extra buildings around the original village. There are perhaps a dozen or so Sovs defending with limited armour in a spread of buildings that isn't fortified. After some close combat you defeat the Sovs and then wait for the counter attack. Unfortunately, the triggers aren't set well - I got the "all clear" message without the objective ticking because there were a couple of Soviets left. And the counter-attack was worse - alone on the top of a tower (nice touch), the end trigger suddenly kicked in while there was still a Sov squad and a BMP roving at my feet.
19 - Last resting place
The Sovs are trapped on the peninsula - you're to lead a 12 man squad in. Usually that means lots of danger - what I never realised at the start what a stupid hideous bug would arise. Firstly, your squad of 12 *will not* enter the peninsula! If you drive them in, as soon as they disembark they simply run back out and stood ready in front of it. No matter what you do. And, lo! the support infantry won't move either - unless you are *very* lucky. In which case, you follow the tanks in to their destruction, and then have to crawl around to shoot a couple of squad's worth of infantry and light armour by yourself. This is especially annoying as a couple of the Sov placements make them almost undetectable - just half a gun-barrel sticking out from a placed object. I can only hope this is a OFP version bug.
20 - Clearing up after
There's a couple of squads of Soviets that have taken refuge on a mountain top. After a paradrop it's for you to remove the final Soviet presence on the island. A nice setting on a rough elevated terrain, and a large squad with tactical options, means you can have some good play with this mission. General caution, though, should see you through to winning. If you have problems with the end trigger then simply order your men through sweep positions. Again, simple but decent enough.
And…then there's a cutscene at the end - basically gratuitous shots of small battle's in progress, done in slow mo. Still, it's a nice enough reward.
(Review Date: Jan 2003) None of the missions are really polished enough to stand on their own - though it can be done. Overall though, this really isn’t a campaign, as much as a mission pack of generally average missions. It would be better just to de-PBO the campaign file and pick and choose the constituent missions at leisure. If your desperate for missions to play then you can do worse - but prepare yourself for some frustrating moments if you do want to play it in the thin guise of a campaign.