Ideally, a game that puts you in charge of a team of super secret agents would make you feel like, well, an awesome super secret agent. Silent Ops doesn’t do this. The stealth is borderline useless, the enemy AI is dumber than a bucket of hammers, and the globe-spanning narrative makes little sense. It’s still a solid action game, but Silent Ops falls just below the mark set by other Gameloft games like Shadow Guardian and BackStab.
The game actually starts out quite a bit like Shadow Guardian, with a man being interrogated for information. As he relays details– unwillingly, we might add, thanks to some sort of memory reading technology– you’ll play through the events, and that’s how the story unfolds. It was a clever concept the first time Gameloft used it, not so much the second time. It doesn’t help that the story is borderline incoherent.
Bullet goes here.
There are rival groups of secret agents and bad guys, a powerful virus that just might destroy the whole world, and a bitter traitor who realizes the error of his ways before it’s too late. All typical spy movie stuff, right down to the Russian femme fatale, but it’s all just sort of thrown together into one big mess of a plot. You never really get to know who the characters are and you jump around from one location to the next seemingly at random.
Thankfully, you don’t need to have a good story to have a good game. Silent Ops is, at its heart, a third-person shooter. There are other elements at play, but they range in quality quite a bit. There’s some light platforming that will see you climbing up walls Assassin’s Creed style. There are sniper sections where you can safely fire off headshots to help out your fellow agents. You can also go the stealth route, sneaking up on enemies to perform silent kills or hiding behind cover to take them out with silenced bullets. It’s not really necessary, though, because thanks to the terrible enemy AI the combat in Silent Ops is somewhat broken, if still ultimately fun.
Most of the time you’ll probably just want to get close enough to the bad guys to fire off a few quick shots and dispatch them easily. But if you get too close, you’ll enter into melee combat and those six armed guards you’re up against will forget that they have rifles and instead start fist fighting. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We also found numerous guards who were apparently unaware of our presence at all, in spite of the fact that we just killed a dozen of their buddies.
Who brings a boot to a gunfight?
The faceless guards may be dumb, but taking them out is still fun. And the combat is punctuated by a number of set-pieces. There are fast-paced boat chases and helicopters to take down, and even one scene lifted directly from The Dark Knight in which you infiltrate a giant glass skyscraper in Hong Kong. You’re mostly just watching these events through cut-scenes, but sometimes you’ll get to participate through simple quick time events. These set-pieces are almost universally great, though the game does make the decision to end on a terrible, drawn out boss battle that really feels out of place.
There’s also a multiplayer mode to keep you busy. You can play either a simple deathmatch game or a team-based mode where you need to capture areas of the map. You do this simply by standing in the right spot, and the more team members who stand with you the faster the capture process goes. Both modes work well enough, but are hampered by kills that are too easy. It takes only a few bullets you force a respawn, so expect to die lots. There are also only two maps for the capture mode, which is disappointing.
Silent Ops doesn’t manage to make you feel like James Bond, but it’s still worth a play for fans of Gameloft’s previous third-person action games. While it isn’t quite as lengthy or varied as those games, it’s still enjoyable in its own right.