THE GDI'S BEEN ACTING PRETTY SUSPICIOUS RECENTLY. IT'S TIME FOR ANOTHER COVERT OPERATION.
Lock the doors, put the dog outside, turn the stereo down, break out the T.V. dinners, and kiss your social life good-bye. Yup, get ready to fire up your PC and plug into the latest installment of Westwood Studio's best-selling real time war game, because Command & Conquer: the Covert Operations has arrived for PC-compatible computers.
Anybody who was a fan of the original C&C (OK, so who wasn't?) will love the fact that Westwood has tacked on another 15 scenarios, ten brand-new network-play maps, and seven more background music tracks to one of the hottest war games in the history of computer gaming. Parent's beware; this means less studying, less sleeping, less time on the phone (well, that's not so bad...), and less housework getting done by the resident Brotherhood of Nod Operative or Global Defense Initiative Commando. With all the excitement an expanded Command & Conquer has to offer, what else could anyone want?
Unfortunately, all is not well in the Tiberium fields. For one thing,Covert Ops offers nothing particularly new to the gameplay of the basic C&C. All the new scenarios take place at Tech Level Seven, meaning they occur some time after the final mission of the basic game, but they do not progress from there. Part of the fun of C&C was getting new toys to play around with. Remember the giddiness of unwrapping that brand-new Orca the UN so graciously gave you? Not in Covert Ops.
Also, there's the matter of a storyline. Like most games, Command & Conquer moved along according to a set plot of good guys chasing bad guys or vise versa, with one side eventually defeating the other one, making the world safe for democracy and capitalism, or whatever. In Covert Ops, that element is replaced by a stage selection menu, with which you can jump to any scenario you choose and complete them in the order of your liking. Gone is the suspense of wondering what happens next, pared down to a simple training exercise in seeing if you can truly master the game. And where are the covert operations in Covert Ops? Without a storyline to back the missions up, you really can't tell.
Credit the designers in sticking with what works, though. The game engine remains as detailed and fluid as always, and the video sequences at the beginning of each mission come across just as well-produced as their brethren. Credit the music composers, too, for it was well worth adding the seven new background tracks. And even though Covert Ops doesn't give you any new gadgets to fool around with, few things in this world rival the feeling you get after canceling a strike mission with a good old-fashioned blast from the orbiting ion cannon.
While Command & Conquer: the Covert Operations fails to offer anything especially new, there sure isn't anything wrong with the old. 15 solo missions and greater flexibility in network play are refreshing enough to keep players on their toes and mothers worried about report cards. Command & Conquer first; everything else second.