Marine: A Video Game Review

Marines: Modern Urban Combat

Let’s just get one thing out in the open: I pre-ordered this game. I half wonder if I was the only one in the world to do so.

I was on amazon ordering Modern Warfare 2 Mobilized when this game, called Marines, came up. The game, listed as Marines: Assault on Terror, had a box cover that looked like it was modeled after… well Call of Duty Modern Warfare.

I laughed, the game was obviously trying to sneak in under the Modern Warfare 2 radar and get picked up by some unsuspecting parents. Still, i was curious and looked it up and did some reading.

The game is not new. It is a port of an XBox game released in 2005 called Close Combat: First to Fight. The developers met with actual Marines, first it seems to make a training simulator, but then also to make this game.

So I looked up THAT game. Well, Gamespot gave it a 7.3, IGN gave it an 8.0 overall. Not too shabby for a FPS, I thought. The game was going for $30, and I thought what the hell. So I ordered it with MW: Mobilized.

That was back in November. The game was supposed to be out the week after Thanksgiving. Then the first week of December. Then the second. The release date changed at least five times before it finally shipped to me. It arrived today, 28 January, 2010.

So that is how I came in to possession of Marines: Modern Urban Combat, Assault on Terror, Close Combat: FIrst to Wii.

(The game is called Marines: Modern Urban Combat, which is what the box cover art said all along, but not the Amazon listing.)

Now on to the review.

Another confession: I really wanted to love this game.

Marines MUC takes place in an alternate reality (history?) Beirut. A rebel faction has started a civil war and we, the USA, are there to try and stop it. The plot is told through mock news reports from INN, the International News Network.

The game is a squad based game. You and three of your Marine friends travel together through each level. You start by clearing streets, then move to buildings and what not. As squad leader you can give commands to your group, but they are pretty basic.

The controls are pretty standard for Wii FPS. There is no jump, but you can kneel and lie prone. Reload has you move the Wii controller down, then back up. Being an FPS this is an awkward motion, as it takes the camera with it.

Remember this game is an XBox port, and it looks like it. The graphics have not been updated, which isn’t bad, but obviously last generation. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is the refresh / redraw rate. There were times as I turned that noticeable parts of the screen were not keeping up.

And load times. I mention this was an XBox port? I haven’t had load times like this in years. It makes you appreciate how Metriod and some other games will work past the loads as much as possible.

The AI of the game is more impressive than the graphics.The bad guys will hide behind things and even wait for you to move before they shoot. It is not a run and gun, which is admittedly my preferred tactic for these sort of situations. Your squad mates are actually useful, rather than being mobile targets you have to keep alive. The formations they will take are very realistic, and although they will kill baddies, I’ve noticed at times their aim is downright pitiful.

Not that I am one to talk.

The Wii added controls are just not as fluid as I am used to. You can adjust both the dead space and the controller sensitivity. I played with both through the time I was playing, but couldn’t find a good medium. Perhaps there is one and I haven’t found it yet. As for now, it is hard to aim with precision with any sort of urgency. Enemies that were fairly close to me could be hard to hit. Reaction time of the controls was slow and seemingly inconsistent. Using the scope helped some, but slowed down the motion even more.

The thing about this game is that I could see that 7.3 – 8.0 game in it as I was playing. There is a good game in this and it deserved more than a speedy port to cash in on Modern Warfare 2. Rather a slower polish, and applying the same attention to details that brought the original to this one would have resulted in a fairly strong title, even with the XBox graphics.

Instead it is a shadow. Playable, yes, but not what it could be. I’d drop this from an 8.0 to a 5. The game did not start off life as shovelware, it didn’t need to be reincarnated as it.