Conflict: Denied Ops - Hands-On

Written by Joe Martin

January 19, 2008 | 14:14

Tags: #casual #conflict #fps #graves #hands-on #lang #pivotal #preview #simulator #war

Companies: #eidos

Conflict: Denied Ops Hands-on preview

Publisher: Eidos
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

I’ll be honest – I’ve never really played the Conflict games. Or, rather, I don’t think I’ve played them. The games have always been the type that I’ve spotted in bargain bins and as budget buys, appearing fairly generic, kind of like a singleplayer Counter-Strike, but without all the maniacal loyalty.

So, when I went to preview Conflict: Denied Ops, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d heard differing rumours and opinions of the quality of game – it seemed to be a love it or hate it affair by all accounts.

Still, walking down into the underground private bar and cinema where the event was hosted, I was quietly hoping that the game would end up in the former category for me. Since the New Year, I hadn’t had a chance to play very many decent games and my time was firmly divided between trying to get Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare running on my home computer and waiting for the new Garry’s Mod update. A decent, no-nonsense shooter was exactly what I thought I needed to help take my mind off of things.

It turns out, that’s what I got.

Starting Afresh

Denied Ops is the fifth entry in the Conflict series, but explores a brand new storyline that is entirely disconnected from the memorably lamentable Global Terror. In fact, Denied Ops is completely separate from any of the past games. It has new characters, a new storyline and brand new features.

Conflict: Denied Ops - Hands-On Conflict: Denied Ops Hands-On
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So, it’s fair to say that Pivotal Games is definitely trying to kickstart the series after the poor reception of the last game. In fact, when the game was introduced to us, the developers were very clear that they’ve tried to find a new focus for the series – wanting something that was very much pick-up-and-play.

Billed as more of a casual FPS game, it was clear that Denied Ops was the type of game built for people to play when they had just got home, fresh from the pub. That’s exactly how the developers described it in fact – the type of game that groups of people enjoy passing around and playing together after a few whiskies and beers.

The casual FPS market may not sound like something incredibly interesting or intelligent, but when you think about it such games have existed for a long, long time. Single or two-player games designed with an accessibility that means even the most inebriated or woozy of gamers can still have fun have been around for ages – Halo and TimeSplitters are classic examples that quickly spring to mind. Denied Ops is just one of the first few games to declare it openly.

In Denied Ops, that casual appeal and accessibility has been clearly channelled into one specific feature; Co-op. The game, which tells the adventures of two globe-trotting soldiers in the Special Activities Division as they try to stop a Venezuelan coup from going nuclear, has co-op built solidly into it all the way through.

Conflict: Denied Ops - Hands-On Conflict: Denied Ops Hands-On
Click to enlarge

In fact, the co-operative play is integrated somewhat into the singleplayer adventure. The two characters, Graves and Lang, have very distinct styles are forced to work together even in the singleplayer campaign where players can switch between the characters at will. Graves, the older and wiser professional soldier, is a keen sniper with a talent for remaining undetected. Lang meanwhile is predictably loud, using heavy machine guns, explosives and grenades to get the job done.

Sure, it’s a fairly uninspired division of style, but it’s also one that’s proven to work.

In the co-operative game, which can be done via system link and split screen on the Xbox 360 (we didn’t get a chance for co-op on the other platforms), things are a little different. Each of the two players is locked into either Graves or Lang and they are unable to cross over to try the other player’s style.

This is the first time that the series has seen the player cast trimmed down from the traditional four-man team, but it’s a format which works fine in our opinion. Polishing the formula down to just two players means that the game feels a lot more personal and challenging, even in the vehicle sections where players are practically invulnerable.

Unfortunately, while the game has been streamlined and polished in a number of ways, there are still a number of flaws which mar the game and end up dirtying the refined game design.
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