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RTS and FPS
The premise behind Raven Squad is an interesting one and there is no reason that the real-time strategy and first-person shooter genres can’t jump into bed and make beautiful babies. The problem here is that you have a fat, obnoxious bloke and an ugly spinster and their offspring is hideous. That’s enough of that analogy. What I mean to say is that Raven Squad combines a very bad FPS game with a laughably simplistic RTS game and wraps them both up in a smelly sandwich along with slices of abysmal artwork, some past its sell by date design and the worst tasting voiceover dialogue you ever heard. This is not a sandwich you want to eat no matter how hungry you are. Ok I'll stop with the analogies now.
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Your squad has been called into the Amazon jungle to rescue the survivors of a plane crash and recover vital national secrets. In effect you are controlling two squads of three and shooting a bunch of bad guys. The gameplay is dated in the extreme. You have a number of missions and you can switch between FPS mode and RTS mode at any time. You can also cycle through your men and take direct control. They each have special skills, none of which seem very special, and this forces you to use different squad members for different situations.
The ability to switch into an overhead view and command your men into position using a tactical approach and then zoom into their heads and shoot the bad guys sounds really appealing until you do it. The actual transition is quite nice but the effect is ruined by woefully sub-standard AI. These guys can’t path find, they can’t aim, they have no concept of taking cover and they will even try to shoot enemies through bullet proof scenery.
The maps are small and they look like hedge mazes. The linear action involves killing various inept AI and the majority of levels can be cleared in minutes using no tactical thought whatsoever. If you actually stop and engage the RTS portion of the game it becomes even easier to beat.
Despite the claims about creating a new genre and the revolutionary crossover of RTS and FPS this is really just a squad based FPS which allows you to engage an aerial view. Just because you can command your men from above doesn’t really make this real-time strategy, especially since, if you want your men to actually shoot the bad guys, you’ll have to jump in and do it yourself.
There isn’t much in the unimaginative gameplay to recommend Raven Squad. To make matters worse it is ridiculously short. Even for a budget title this only offers a single night’s entertainment. There is a co-operative mode so you could in theory find a friend to join you in the action but you shouldn’t really inflict this on anyone else.
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The sound is probably Raven Squad’s greatest draw. It has to be heard to be believed and in the same way as chronically awful b-movies attract an audience with a car crash curiosity so the voice acting in Raven Squad will provoke your mirth. The script is utter cliché ridden drivel and the delivery of the voiceovers is beyond bad. It is like they are deliberately delivering the lines as badly as possible.
The dialogue is super cheesy and obviously not written by a native English speaker. The character names are also suitably hilarious, there are squad members called Paladin, Thor, Flash and Zombie. The game does capture an eighties action movie vibe, in the sense that it is deeply ridiculous and badly made.
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Raven Squad doesn’t manage to redeem itself in the visual stakes. This game is undeniably dated looking. As an FPS it looks several years old. As an RTS it looks even older although at least you can’t see the terrible character models up close. The game development clearly lacked an animation budget because lots of the animations seem to be missing. I expect people to flinch when I shoot them and perform actions other than run and shoot but the badly modelled characters in Raven Squad don’t. The environments aren’t as visually repulsive as the characters but they are homogenous and bland. The levels have no real differentiation and the layouts are too obviously created to accommodate the linear scripted gameplay. The cutscenes do a great job of showing off the poor quality of the artwork.
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There is simply no way that Raven Squad can be recommended as a purchase. It is shoddy, lacking in excitement and light years behind the competition in the RTS and FPS genres. The hype is empty marketing nonsense and we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that elusive holy grail of war games, the perfect RTS/FPS blend. It’s lurking out there somewhere but definitely not in the jungles of the Amazon. The fun to be had with this game is limited in the extreme and if it hadn’t been so short I wouldn’t have bothered completing it. You might fancy it as a rental if you are curious about just how bad voice acting can get. You should probably just avoid it.
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