2009 Reviews

Raven Squad: Operation Hidden Dagger

  • Review Date: 2012-04
  • Release Date: 2009-08
  • Developer: Atomic Motion
  • Rating: 5.5

Here's a perfect example of why I always give the budget, poorly received titles a chance. 38/39% aggregate on Meta Critic for both Xbox and PC version, and the user reviews are just as condemning. But I gave it a chance - and I actually enjoyed it!

Having just played STALKER: Clear Sky and Assassin's Creed, if I was to honestly answer which I enjoyed more - it would be Raven Squad. Like I've said before, I don't mind one bit playing a game that brings nothing new to the action genre and has the same tired gameplay mechanics of games from a decade a go.

The only major things that have changed shooters throughout the 2000's is consolisation. Checkpoints, slower more cover-based combat, regenerative health and an increasing focus on RPG elements. None of that is necessarily good!

So Raven Squad is a stripped down, simple shooter with RTS mixed in, which I'll get to later. It's very much an average game at best. But definitely not the 2/10 that IGN game it. I don't think I've ever played a game that's only worth a 2/10 - the only games that should be given such a low score should be bug-riddled almost beyond playability. Raven Squad does absolutely nothing wrong. There's no bugs, no major problems or glitches - it just doesn't do anything particular inspiring either. So whoever gave it a 2/10 should be fired or put on puzzle game reviews only - they're clearly not a shooter fan.

Raven Squad gives you six players to switch between at any time - all carrying different weapons. Then puts you into two teams of three so as you control one player and have your team follow you around, you can command your other team of three as you wish. Flanking galore. You do this by using the real time strategy mode. With the flick of a key you zoom up to a birds eye view of the entire level, which you can zoom in on anywhere, and can click your team to go anywhere, pickup items or health, as well as seeing where the enemies are. It's seamless and smooth, looks great and is finally a unique feature to a shooter that WORKS! Commanding your team and using this mode would have done wonders for Brothers In Arms, which is a confusing mess trying to order your team around.

Despite this fantastic hybrid of FPS/RTS, critics chose to hone in on the voice acting. Yes, it's probably the worst I've heard, but it's almost humorously bad especially listening to the female (you're trying to rescue) terrible grasp of English pronunciation. The story too is pretty poor. But really, does every action game have to have flawless voice acting and storyline? The last time I was actually impressed with a good storyline would have been Jericho; a whole 37 games ago.

The combat itself is very average in Raven Squad. There's no impact animation or blood spray when firing at enemies, so you don't know if you're really hitting them until they die. It's also very easy at times. You can see where enemies are coming from, spray a round off in their direction and you'll drop them all before you even get hit. It's a bit different from your standard realistic shooter where you're constantly bouncing up from cover. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Ultimately while the RTS elements are great, you don't actually need them. The game is easy enough to just run and gun. It does have some trickier moments, but it's more when you've been outnumbered and are frantically trying to resuscitate all your team mates.

The graphics are also a letdown. This is not 2009 quality. Far Cry in 2004 looked better! The levels are very linear with invisible clip brushes EVERYWHERE! And one stupid problem that should have been fixed is that you can't shoot through the clips. So a lot of the time you won't be able to hit an enemy because you can't shoot through the spindly bush directly between you both. Bit of a gripe that one. But while I admit to playing games more for the design than the gameplay, I don't regret playing Raven Squad. The graphics were adequate enough to keep me happy to keep playing. In comparison to the previous, it wouldn't 2008's worst looking action game - I think all the City Interactive titles and Cauldron HQ's two titles looked worse than this.

Let me finish by saying Raven Squad isn't the awful piece of shit that most reviewers have you believe. It's mediocre at best, but at a short five hour length might be worth a play through on a Sunday afternoon.