Global Operations

Barking Dog was commissioned by Valve to polish up Counter-Strike. It was probably this experience that made them a prime candidate to whip out their own clone of everyone’s favorite online tactical shooter. But while Global Operations offers some passable CS-style gameplay, it brings along a jungle-full of pesky problems.

Snap131_1For its good parts, Global Ops isn’t a complete clone. You choose from seven character classes (six in single-play), such as Commando and Recon, and earn money by carrying out mission goals like killing the enemy, blowing up objectives or rescuing hostages. You then use that cash to buy new weapons, equipment, and class-specific upgrades. Unlike in CS, however, there are no rounds in a game (it plays like a continuous match with respawns), you must complete the mission objectives to win and the buying options are greatly expanded.

While you do heave a lot more buying options, the armory at large is hit and miss. It does benefit from the variety and customization, but hardly any of the weapons have any bang to make them feel truly visceral. On the brighter side the armory is pretty balanced,  with each class having its own batch of purchasing options – assault rifles for Commandos, lightweight SMGs for Recon units, sniper rifles for the Sniper – and you can customize most of them with suppressors, scopes or flashlights. If you’re strapped for cash it’s usually not a huge problem, since you can pick up guns dropped by killed players (regardless of your class). It’s only a shame none of the guns neither look nor sound convincing.

The action spans a wide spectrum of real-world locales, with 16 huge stand-alone missions. The standard variety ensues – desert, jungle and snow – but a few creative exceptions place you in a Scarface-like drug lord palace, train tunnel or industrial facility. You even get two missions based on one of our favorite Team Fortress Classic maps, The Hunted, where one side must protect a VIP and the other side must assassinate him.

Snap38_1All of the missions are playable in both single and multiplayer modes. In solo play you’ll be fighting against (and with) bots. By and large the bots make half-decent companions, but they pale in comparison to Unreal Tournament’s fluid and mobile enemies, even getting stuck against walls and needing to be bumped free. There’s a radio command system to order your bots around, but they don’t show much tactical finesse. When caught in a firefight, bots just freeze and fire back, never run for cover and are generally tough to organize into a cohesive force.

The real meat of Global Ops, of course, lies in its multiplayer game. Just as in CS, whether or not multiplay is enjoyable depends entirely on your teammates. If you’re lucky enough to play with a good team, you’ll find a fun game. Unfortunately, bots aren’t supported in multiplayer, leaving much of the gameplay tucked away in the solo campaign. None of it is extremely interesting, however, and the game just barely makes a cut with its few fresh ideas.

System Requirements: P III 700 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, 800 MB HDD, Win98

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