Ops: Nuclear Dawn
An advanced, high-tech, armored military train, the
Blue Harvest, leaves St. Petersburg, Russia, bound for
Paris. On board are the French ambassador to Russia
and his family. While en route, the train is hijacked
and occupied by a terrorist group who call themselves
the ‘Knights of the Apocalypse’.
The Knights of the Apocalypse have demanded 20 billion
dollars in return for the ambassador and his family.
As negotiations commence, the single member of the train’s
original security force, who somehow managed to survive
the terrorist attack, despite every other soldier submitting
to the gun, makes contact with the HQ. You play as that
soldier, Lieutenant Jack Morton, and you must save the
ambassador and his family on your own. Along the way,
you also find yourself responsible for a couple of other
lives aboard the train.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten a little bit of the background
out of the way, on to the actual game. Imagine an entire
2-disc action game taking place on a train. At first
I tried to disbelieve that fact. I kept thinking that
at any second the train would pull into a town and the
action would continue there. Maybe I could save a grateful
Bavarian village from the arms of a ruthless tyrant,
shun the military life, become a rich Baron (an honorary
title, of course), and marry the ambassador's attractive
female bodyguard, but that never seemed to happen.
Even filled with obstacles (don’t they make trains with
straight walkways anymore?), the game play can get a
bit tedious, no matter which way you batter that fish.
You can pretty much guess that you are going to be traveling
back and forth amongst the cars, going past the same
scenery again and again while trying to dodge bullets.
True, they did add a second level to the train, but
still… There certainly was a lot of "go to car four,
look for terrorist leader, go back to car nine to find
the ambassador's aide, run to car six to get medical
aid for a fallen soldier, hurry to car eleven to find
the ambassador's wife".
Graphically, I think that Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn is
up to the standards set by other games in the same genre.
There are no groundbreaking, breathtaking visuals to
“ooh” and “ahh” over, but the graphics aren’t exceptionally
bad. In fact, when you walk by some of the recently
deceased, you can see some of the colorful details,
some of which were very nicely done. The cut scenes
would have been much more impressive if the characters
didn’t have such a plastic sheen to their faces. The
colors and backgrounds were, for the most part, average
and repetitive, and there was little or no interactivity
from the background settings, or the any of the surrounding
The sound in the game was not spectacular in any way.
The voice acting was very poor, considering Activision's
track record. You would think that someone would put
more effort into voice acting these days, or at least
have taken some of the cheese out of the corny dialogue.
The music and sound effects were okay, but nothing above
average. The empty cartridges spilling on the floor
was a nice touch, but that’s been done before, and in
better games. Sometimes the sounds in a game, the music
and effects, ice the cake on a good game, making it
even better. This game isn’t going to win any awards
for the way it sounds.
I found the game play very typical, if not lazily executed.
It was hard to tell just what they were trying to accomplish
with this game, with a targeting system similar to Siphon
Filter and a quest system similar to Dino Crisis. More
stealth la Metal Gear Solid would have added greater
depth to the game. Running around on the top of the
Blue Harvest was a bit of a treat the first time. I
was actually concerned the first time I nearly fell
off the train, but sadly, that effect prematurely wore
thin. The boss enemies were surprisingly easy to beat,
considering that Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn is billed
as an action game.
The puzzles were simple and straightforward, if you
don’t mind tracking down the ubiquitous key cards for
doors all the way on the other side of the train, or
pushing buttons in just the right sequence to open a
trap door. The arsenal was just a handful of different
guns and very limited amounts of ammo, but I’m not sure
that a full-on lead fest is what they had in mind for
the game. While you are able to combine some of the
weapons, this feature seemed like more of an afterthought
than an actual major feature. I would have loved to
combine a scimitar, a crossbow and a cold slab of plastic
explosive, but alas, it was not to be. Not even a deathmatch
mode would have made the train more interesting.
The characters were not only stereotypical, but also
wooden and unconvincing. The plot was cellophane-thin,
and seemed to be lifted straight from an early 1980’s
cold war era Atari game, and even then… I found the
running back and forth from one end of the train to
the other time and time again not only frustrating,
but also boring and tedious. There were a lot of nitpicky
things that I didn’t enjoy about the game. They make
the backpack, your main tool, tiny and un-expandable.
The specific locations to save your game, long a thorn
in my side, were placed in weird, oddly spaced bathrooms,
sometimes miles from a clash with a boss or a critical
area, for some strange reason.