Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way

3Zombie’s Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way is superficially similar to games like Delta Force or Rainbow Six, with a more pronounced leaning towards action gameplay. For starters, the small unit tactics are severely limited by two-man teams. This would have worked better if the game emphasized stealth, but it’s almost always a matter of a head-on gunfights through the enemy’s ranks. By the time a mission is accomplished, the kill tallies are absurdly high, considering that you were going up against dozens of well-armed and forewarned enemies.

It helps that the enemies don’t react very intelligently. They’re either randomly crouching, crawling, and rolling, or they’re sitting motionless waiting for you to pick them off from a distance. They don’t seem inclined to take cover. It also helps that they don’t know how to use their grenades.

The way inventory works is also trapped halfway between a serious game and an action game. For each mission, you choose team members based on their limited equipment. But as you play, you can pick up additional stuff to your heart’s content. There are things lying around that may as well be twirling in the air, not to mention the stuff left behind when you kill someone. Better hurry, though, as goodies disappear with bodies.

The mission structures lean more towards action, too. There’s no good intel when you begin a scenario, so you’ll probably play through a few times to get a feel for the layout. Then, when you’re ready to try in earnest to beat the mission, you’ll have to race against the clock. It wouldn’t be so bad if the time weren’t cut so close. This often makes careful tactics, like sniping and use of cover, impractical.

4The game makes excellent use of modern toys like night vision goggles, timed explosives, and sighting scopes. The transition as you lift a scope to your eye to shoot is very well done. There’s even a laser sight that paints a dot on the actual terrain. But however tactical the game fancies itself to be, it’s ultimately still one long gun-fest with military-themed gear and settings. And in the end, it will perhaps please people who are more into the Delta Force-side of tactical gaming than any serious squad-based military simulation.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, 200 MB HDD, Win 95

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