Two people against the world. This is the premise of a lot of upcoming games, including Eidos's own Kane & Lynch -- but they don't all turn out the same. Kane & Lynch's sleek presentation and meticulous attention to detail remind us that in its current state, Conflict: Denied Ops falls flat.
Players take control of two members of the CIA Special Activities Division, or the Denied Ops. If captured, any link with the US government will be denied, hence the name. The game takes place in Venezuela, as a new government regime is threatening to deploy nuclear weapons against the US. Just in case you didn't know, this is a bad thing.
You'll have to use two-man tactics to get through each level. In single-player, players will be able to swap control between the two soldiers at the press of a button, but in multiplayer, two players will be able to play simultaneously (online and off). The fundamental concepts of the game are solid: one player is a sniper while the other has access to a louder arsenal of weaponry. A standard tactic to use would be to have one gunman draw the attention of your enemies, while the other sneaks around and flanks the enemy. We can see this being great fun in multiplayer, especially if you have friends that specifically prefer to play as a sniper, or as a run 'n gunner.
Unfortunately, this is all the game really offers. The level we saw was incredibly linear, and simply had players going from point A to B. The gunplay doesn't really captivate, or offer any real innovations. "Puncture-Tech" is a catchword Eidos is throwing around for this game, and like Red Faction's "Geo-Mod," it's just a hyperbolic marketing term. With "Puncture-Tech," players will be able to shoot through objects, like wood and doors. We're pretty certain that we've seen this is other games before. Simply saying the game has "destructible environments" would more than suffice.
The presentation only adds to our disappointment. Although still in development, the look of the game is uninspired, with a generic art style and story that fails to captivate. The textures we saw were incredibly unimpressive, and the environments are far below the standards of other games in the genre. Compared to the sleek, visceral feel of Kane & Lynch, the look of Denied Ops is rather lackluster.
The game is being prepped for a Q1 2008 release, so there's a lot of time to clean up the visuals and add in some much-needed cinematic flair. With a few improvements, Denied Ops can turn out to be a fun, but familiar, multiplayer game, especially considering its "budget" price -- $49.99 for both Xbox 360 and PS3.