I feel now like I should have given this game less marks considering it's only seven months later and I have no real recollection of playing it at all. All I remember is that it's one of the typical PC filler FPS that does nothing offensive or enjoyable.
I’d like to admit that Denied Ops is the first game in the Conflict series that I’ve ever played, despite the series being around some time, so I don’t have a lot of background to work with here. The games aren’t connected by plot or even gameplay though, so if you’re in the same boat as me, you don’t to worry about walking into the middle of a series and being utterly confused by what’s going on. The problem is, playing Denied Ops is going to leave you utterly confused (and perhaps a little bored) anyway.
Denied Ops has exactly the sort of attempt at a plot that you might expect from a game called ‘Denied Ops’. There’s a lot of talk about the Middle East and gruff people talking about covert intelligence and regimes other buzzwords that plague ‘real world’ FPS games that’ll make you feel like you’re watching the world’s most convoluted episode of 24. It might not have been a problem had it all ended at the mission screen, but the dull predictability and repetitiveness of the plot carries right over to into nearly every aspect of the game.
Denied Ops is reasonably lengthy for an FPS title, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything particularly memorable within the game. It doesn’t feel lazy or incomplete, but it does suffer from a complete and utter lack of personality. You play as two different characters, switching between them as needed. Lang is a close combat action orientated fellow, and Graves has a sniper rifle and is obviously more suited for long range combat. You can control either character at any time, and you have some limited control over what the AI does with the character you are not directly controlling.
This all sounds like a nice way to break the monotony and produce something that’s more than just another FPS, but it ends up feeling a little clunky and disjointed. Instead of giving you the option of tackling situations using a different style depending on which character you’re playing with, it just means you have to swap characters just to access a different weapon every time you switch from a long range shootout to a close combat firefight. The nicest thing about playing as two characters is the gears of war style healing system which means if you die you can jump to your remaining character and heal yourself, although you do have to sit through a jerky ‘getting up’ animation every single time.
The biggest problem with this style of play is that the AI responsible for controlling whichever character you aren’t using isn’t very competent. Your control over your partner is limited to using the right mouse button to point where you want him to move. He’ll happily do this, but he’ll also have an annoying tendency to run headfirst into oncoming fire, refuse to take cover or, if you don’t press anything at all, happily remain standing still at the last location you were both together. Instead of giving the game an added dimension it ends up becoming a chore to make sure your partner is doing something vaguely similar to what he should be.
So you and your partner get sent off to some of those countries less fortunate than America to kill some people in hats that probably hate freedom, using either the gun that’s great at long range or the gun that is more designed for close combat. Once you’ve gotten used to babysitting your partner and given up any hope of caring about what it is you’re meant to be doing beyond closing the distance on whatever your objective arrow is pointing towards, Conflict Denied Ops is playable. It’s not a painful game. There are actually some very nice set pieces and impressive set ups in the game, although not nearly enough. Just when you think the pace of the game might be increasing and the game is going to finally get some direction, it lets you down with another dull scenario set in a generic Arabic town. There’s a feeling here that we’ve been given a huge amount of lovely barrels and crates that explode in a tower of flame and smoke, and expected to be entertained for 10 hours.
For an FPS, Denied Ops doesn’t do particularly well on the graphical side of things. The textures are detailed, but the graphics as whole - especially in the outdoor sections - seem sparse and boring. The models look like something that might have impressed two years ago, and the animation ranges from awkward to absurd, Grave’s gun moving around as if he has shaking it wildly around in a small circle while he runs. What’s more, you’ll need quite an impressive system to max everything out.
The game offers a Co-Op mode which removes the problem of poor AI; although it does pigeon hole you to playing the entire game in the specific and narrow roles the game has set out. There are no sections where you really feel like you’re working as a team like what we’ve seen recently in Gears of War, but with the right person, it works quite well. Denied Ops was never going to compete with Call of Duty 4 or Crysis, but it’s turned out to be a little disappointing in its own right. Most FPS fans will find some enjoyable moments here, but it’s hard to justify playing through the rest of the game to reach them.