Korea: Forgotten Conflict

8_1The Korean Four left four million dead and a poverty-stricken, highly ideological totalitarian state which could conceivably be described as the last bastion of stalinism left on Earth. But the first confrontation in the Cold War also holds plenty of potential for gaming, both because it’s been ignored and because developers have capitalized all they can from World War II. Enter the 3D commandos-style Korea: Forgotten Conflict. If only the AI were up to speed with the concept, this might have actually been a passable squad-based strategy game.

If you’ve played any of the old Commandos games, you know the drill: Elite soldiers re-enact the plots of a dozen war movies. Soldiers have skills that don’t overlap, so they function like interlocking parts. Ranger B.J. Goodlover serves as a jack-of-all-trades trooper. Native Indian Nighthawk wields a sniper rifle instead of a bow and arrow, and engineer Connor McGregor makes things go boom while lovely nurse Sarah “Honey†Parker deals in healing lost hit points.

Missions play like puzzles where you use soldiers in specific spots, which means plenty of contrived situations (your medic dies and it’s game over—why? Is she the only Allied nurse in Korea?) and a lot of hide-and-seek. You start at the beginning of United Nations intervention in the war and work toward the liberation of Seoul. Objectives and locales are nicely varied and range through all seasons. Goodlover and crew rescue a medic pinned down on the streets of the Korean capital, detonate a ship in Inchon Harbor, demolish a dam to ruin commie troop movements across a frozen river, ensure victory in Seoul by sabotaging a train carrying poison gas, and so on.

1_1But while the formula is familiar, the mission design allows more freeform play, especially in comparison to the Commandos games. Unfortunately, this freedom is granted by horrific A.I. You can skip key mission points where you’re supposed to use special soldierin’ skills and openly kill enemy guards because their comrades are too dumb to respond. They stand confused over corpses for so long that they might as well draw bullseyes on their foreheads. You can shoot enemies right in front of their friends, hide for a few moments while the dimwits decide that there’s nothing to be seen here, and then resume the mission when they move along.

The buggy interface often doesn’t recognize selecting a soldier, which is extremely frustrating in a game requiring precise movements. You also have to be careful maneuvering around objects. Click too close to a structure and the commando refuses the order, forcing you to try again or click farther from the object and risk leaving cover.

Korea: Forgotten Conflict is so unstable that the lure of slaughtering moronic guards soon loses its dubious appeal. Crashes to the desktop are a routine occurrence, and hard lockups happen infrequently. The engine seems to have a problem with anti-aliasing and shadows, with crashes taking place quite often. It might be an issue specific to certain cards… or not.

Since this game is a foreign import, the production values (as well as the dialogue) are insipid. Judging by the goofy exploitation-flick lines given to Goodlover (“I’ll be there in a New Yawk minute!â€) and Nighthawk (“I am a shadow of night!â€), Plastic Reality’s been getting its information from late night TCM reruns. Bad controls, limited AI and pathfinding sent from the lower bowels of Hell all combine to make the game more forgettable than the B-movie war drama it so incompetently strives to depict.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win98

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