Cooperative play has certainly been a revelation in the gaming industry, with more and more titles listening to what gamers want and incorporating the teamwork dynamic; and then there are games like Conflict: Denied Ops that are making it the core experience. Now gamers can team up with a friend and play the recently released demo on either a PlayStation 3 or an Xbox 360, which also just happens to support co op mode. The basic set up for the story is that the government of Venezuela has been overthrown in a violent military coup, and the leader is threatening nuclear retaliation against anyone that interferes. So two covert op agents, Lang and Grave, are sent in, although the way in which they carry out their objectives is far from covert.
The demo begins at an old monastery in Santa Cecilia, which you must infiltrate. Starting off outside we made our way around the ancient structure and it wasn’t long until we were confronted by the enemy. Now even if you happen to be playing it solo, you can still issue commands by aiming at locations and pulling the left trigger to move your companion around, or if you want a little more control you can press B to “hot swap” between Graves and Lang, not unlike the swapping feature in Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. Graves and Lang can both be used strategically, as Graves serves as the sniper while Lang is all about the close combat with his machine gun. So it’s quite obvious that in co op or single player, it’s good to keep Graves in the rear, picking off enemy soldiers and watching Lang’s back while he sprays the lead.
If these guys get captured, the US government will deny their existence.
Aside from hot swapping the controls are typical FPS fare, as X reloads, Y opens inventory, RB throws grenades and pressing down on the right thumbstick sights in. While our running speed did feel a little slow, the aiming controls were pretty tight for the most part. The D pad also allows you to lean around cover; however, at some points in the demo you have to be careful as the game features destructible cover that includes many objects in the environment. Anyways back to the mission, after taking care of the guys outside we made our way into the monastery onto the balcony of a second floor of a large hall, where we used Graves to snipe the soldiers on the ground floor, and then swapped to Lang to manoeuvre around the second level to another room with a computer terminal that required Graves to operate.
Now one of the annoying problems we encountered was that although the AI of either character can seek cover and generally keep themselves alive, they didn’t always respond to our orders. We continually ordered Graves to download the data by pointing to the terminal and pressing LT, but eventually just had to swap over to him to complete the task. Also, after possessing one the characters and switching to the to the other, the character would remain put and not follow, so you have to make sure to keep barking orders for them to follow. If you do happen to catch one too many bullets you must hold the left trigger down to command your partner to heal you, and hope he doesn’t get killed while trying to revive you.
As for the AI on the other side of the fight, the enemies were decent shots, and did continually move from cover to cover but did do so pretty slowly. Now this did appear to be an early level of the game, so obviously you won’t be fighting the best Venezuela has to offer. After we took care of securing the data, we made our way back out to the ground level of that large hall and dispatched a few more soldiers, and then made our way underground into a series of catacombs. Because of all this indoor activity we really didn’t make much use of Graves other than punching keypads, opting to go with Lang’s heavy machine gun to clear out the tight corridors. We made our way into another area filled with computers, and it was Grave’s task to blow it to hell with a little C4 which took out the lights, causing us to go to night vision by pressing the down direction on the D Pad.
Making our way back out from the basement and into that big hall again, we were confronted by a helicopter above the ruins firing at us. Using Lang we equipped our rocket launcher and took the helicopter out, leading to quite an intense moment as the chopper crashed right into the very same room we resided in, sending debris everywhere. The demo then ended, at that time we hadn’t even been playing for more than twenty minutes, which was a bit disappointing.
Put down supressive fire while Graves does the sniping.
Besides giving a basic introduction to how the interaction between Graves and Lang works, the Conflict demo didn’t offer that much excitement beyond its corridor crawling gameplay, which didn’t really let us flex our ability to strategically place either character. Although judging from the briefing before the mission this was definitely an early level. Later in the game vehicles can be commandeered with one man driving and the other gunning, and the levels will also offer branching paths, so that using both men in tangent with the other will actually factor into the gameplay.
As for the graphics the outdoor environment was very brightly lit but not all that impressive compared what else has been done in this generation, and the animations seemed very slow and unnatural as well. The demo was so short, and probably a tutorial mission, that we really can’t make a call on the level structure or overall gameplay. However it would be nice to see that friendly AI improved to make going solo a bit less frustrating. Given the specific role each character has, and the branching paths Conflict could still end up being a very strong cooperative experience, as long as the rest of the missions aren’t as dull as this one. Conflict: Denied Ops ships on February 12 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.