In any normal circumstance I would describe Silent Ops as Gameloft’s iOS take on hit action-stealth title Splinter Cell: Conviction.
But Splinter Cell: Conviction was the company’s take on Splinter Cell: Conviction, so now I’m thoroughly confused.
Yes, it appears that it’s finally happened - Gameloft has started cloning its own games.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course, and - to be fair to the developer - it's more 'the action bits from Splinter Cell: Conviction' rather than the entire game.
What's annoying is that, for the most part, Silent Ops doesn't appear to bring any new elements to the table, either.
The plot revolves around an ex-agent turning against his masters and attempting to destroy the world with a deadly virus.
He does this by entering the memories of the commanding officer of the operation (or is he?) via what looks like one of those VR headsets from the early '90s, and replaying the exploits of three of the agents involved.
You feel that creeping sense of déjà vu? That’ll be because it’s almost exactly the same setup as Shadow Guardian. I mean, sure, it’s a fairly easy way of linking up disparate plot strands (and it’s not as bad as ‘it was all a dream’), but surely Gameloft could have thought of something a little bit different?
Never mind, though, as it does mean you’ll be creeping, shooting, and sucker-punching baddies around the globe without having to pay attention to the awful plot.
Go loud! Go loud!
Scratch that - the first two levels feature creeping, but the rest of the game is your normal third-person shooter. You won’t even need to take cover that much, thanks to enemy AI that stands still and stares you down while you plug them in the face.
Silent Ops, then, may be far from silent, but it does feature some entertaining passages of spy-like action. Leaping over obstacles and using the auto-aim to fire a few silenced rounds into a guard is strangely satisfying, as is the wide variety of exotic locations you’ll visit during the game.
But you’ll need to dial down your expectations once again if you’re going to really enjoy Silent Ops, because there are numerous flaws: some new, some old, constantly gnawing away at any excitement.
There’s no death animation or real indication as to when your character is going to die, for instance. Take too many bullets too quickly and the game abruptly cuts to a menu screen without warning, which is as jarring as it is amateurish.
The boss fights - if you can call them that - are terrible. One near the start sees you taking down a helicopter by firing a silenced pistol at it until it drops - it’s not just nonsensical, it’s also dull.
Try to not get killed before an in-game cutscene, too, as the checkpointing system will make you sit through these unskippable sections every time you restart.
Then there’s the multiplayer, which is essentially one big camp-fest where everyone hides behind the nearest box. There doesn’t appear to be a way of unlocking weapons unless you stump up more real-world cash for them, either- something this FPS veteran finds despicable for a paid game to do.
Silent Ops is another example of ‘this will do’ rather than ‘this is awesome’. It’s a game that’s capable of executing a few exciting set pieces, albeit not quite to the same level as Modern Combat 2, but it lacks the coherence and polish to really pull them off.
What’s most saddening, though, is that Gameloft hasn’t really moved on in terms of gameplay since Splinter Cell: Conviction last year. It is, essentially, just more of the same.
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