Whatâ€™s better than a tactical shooter? How about a tactical shooter with vehicles and large, open maps? Mobile Forces lets you sharpen not only your run-and-gun weapons skills, but also your driving expertise from behind the wheel of four military-issue vehicles. This Grand Theft Auto IIIâ€“style vehicular combat component certainly adds a distinct twist to the genre, but unfortunately, not quite enough to rescue Mobile Forces from being a lifeless solo game and a decidedly second-rate multiplayer experience.
With LAN and Internet multiplayer action as its primary focus, Mobile Forces offers very little in the way of offline play. You can drive or shoot your way through any of the eight multiplayer gaming modes with AI bots enabled, but it’s little more than a glorified practice arena. Factor in some moronically predictable AI enemies (who donâ€™t seem to know how to jump out of the way of a moving truck), and thereâ€™s precious little reason to play offline.
Things do improve when you hook up with human opponents, though you need a good number of players (at least 4 to 8) to play most of its maps. While Unreal Tournament sports a good number of small arena-style map that can give even 2 players some balanced action, Mobile Forces is borderline unplayable unless a large number of people join in. This is because, despite having a deathmatch mode, every one of its maps is centered on team-based vehicular gameplay. All of the maps, for instance, have two basses opposite each other with large roads criss-crossing through the center, which you are expected to traverse using the game’s vehicles.
The vehicle selection, the game’s main feature, really is an interesting gimmick. You can hop into a Dune Buggy, Humvee, Troop Truck, or APC, and haul through Mobileâ€™s 11 maps as either a roadkill-facilitating wheelman or a teammateâ€™s gun-toting passenger. Each vehicle type drives quite differently, with the varied environments (ranging from a Rail Yard to a Polar Research Facility) dictating your choice of transport. You can even shoot out the tires and witness an immediate degradation in a vehicleâ€™s mobility.
Your equipment loadout is limited by the relative weight of each of the nine weapon types (the heavier stuff will actually slow down your foot speed), but unfortunately, the gameâ€™s designers have made some of these guns completely ineffectual. For instance, the sniper rifle and heavy machine gun both exhibit horrible recoil effects and have little stopping power. For the sake of the task at hand â€” namely, ventilating bad guys and blowing up trucks â€” thereâ€™s really not much point in packing anything but the M-16 or rocket launcher.
A larger problem with the weapons is that they could be some of the ugliest boomsticks in any mainstream 3D shooter before or since. They simply look like they were ripped from some free mod, having awful animations and even worse sound effects, ultimately offering next to no visceral fun to the shooting. The sound design in general is garbage, from the boring announcer to the average-sounding engine noises from the cars.
Mobile Forces makes effective use of Epicâ€™s Unreal engine to produce several attractive-looking battle scenes and some impressive pyrotechnics. But the ridiculously jerky character animations destroy any proper suspension of disbelief: think â€œmannequins on trampolines,â€ and youâ€™ll appreciate just how clunky these dodges and turns can get. And without an attempt at any kind of plot, and with only passable action gameplay, Mobile Forces probably wonâ€™t appeal to most discerning shooter fans.
System Requirements: Pentium II 1 GHz, 256 MB RAM, WinXP