Stop this train, I wanna get off...
Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn is an action/adventure game that resembles a weak Metal Gear Solid clone running on the Dino Crisis or Resident Evil engine. Heck, they even threw in some gameplay and puzzles that are obvious recycles from all three.
You play Lieutenant Jack Morton, the sole surviving member of the security team assigned to protecting the French ambassador and his family as they return to France from Russia. En-route, the supertrain called 'The Blue Harvest' is hi-jacked, and the ambassador is taken hostage. 'The Knights of the Apocalypse,' the terrorist organization behind the hi-jacking, has killed everyone on board, and of course it's up to you, being the sole survivor, to save the day.
Pour yourself a bowl of your favorite cereal before sitting down for a session; there will be more time for snacking than for gameplay. Each train car, no matter how simple, has extensive loading times. Not only between each car, but if you go upstairs, you'll find more load time. At different points throughout the game, it is necessary to run through several cars to reach a certain area. The wait times can get brutal, so don't worry - your Cocoa Puffs won't go soggy on yah.
To ease the pain of waiting for load screens to disappear, the developers added a ton of FMV. These are all top notch and add to the story, which is pretty good.
Inside the train, the graphics are decent, similar to Dino Crisis. The textures are recognizable, though the whole thing lacks clear detail and definition. Outside of the train is a different story. The word that comes to mind is "hokey." The package boasts that the game lets you ride a supertrain across Europe; the reality is that the scenery never changes, and Russia has the same bland backdrop as Germany. The traintop levels could easily be ported to the Sega Genesis and not lack any of their graphical "quality."
The characters are reminiscent of the folks from the first Resident Evil. They're amply animated and get the job done. However, they still lack the smooth look or animation of, say, Medal of Honor or even RE3: Nemesis.
The game plays almost exactly like Resident Evil. Change the zombies to terrorists and put the whole cast on Amtrak...you get the gist. Now add the idea of stealth and cunning like in Metal Gear Solid, but don't do it very well, and you have Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn.
You'll find plenty of boring inventory based puzzles, none of which are particularly interesting. Even the inventory screens feel straight out of Resident Evil. The 'action' is pretty much just aiming at enemies and pulling the trigger.
The game's biggest downfall lies in its camera. The cameraman must be a Teamster, because he refuses to do any work that is not in his job description. As you enter a car, the camera is in the near corner. Move a little further and there is a significant pause while the camera shifts to the center of the car. Then there's one final pause while the lazy slob schleps his chunky butt to the end of the car to slowly point his camera in that general direction. This leaves the unresolved issue of actually seeing what's going on around you. But hey, who needs to SEE what's going on, anyway?
"No problem", you say, "I'll just use the look button!" Well, that's about as effective as the original camera. The same old lazy Teamster waddles his hefty mass to a new location (not necessarily where you are standing), sits down, and lets you focus it wherever you like, so long as you don't move it from the designated "camera spot." Neither particularly useful nor exciting, this could have been implemented better.
In this age where we have a plethora of gaming choices, we all compare one game to another. Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn has ripped off several good ideas from games like Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid, but seems to have failed at the execution. This leaves a big, frustrating mess that is compelling enough to play, yet has you pulling your hair out and smashing controllers because it is just not user friendly. I would save my pennies and replay any of the other games that this one emulates.