Winback 2: Project Poseidon

Winback 2: Project Poseidon

KOEI and Cavia take another stab at stealth-action, this time with a teammate twist.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 14, 2006
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If you owned a N64 back in the late 90s but not a PlayStation, you no doubt looked longing at Sony's little grey brick and silently cursed the fates that you didn't have something as badical as Metal Gear Solid or even Syphon Filter. But hey, uh, there was always Winback, right? Developed by Omega Force, the guys behind the Dynasty Warriors games, right? Yeah, yeah, we know, poor replacement. Even the PS2 port a couple years later didn't really go over too well with the critics (we, thankfully, never played it).

Of course the upside to having a game that wasn't exactly loved is that it won't take much to get people to say "well, it's better than the first game, right?" We're not saying this was the exclusive mentality of the higher-ups at KOEI when they decided to hand the project over to Drakengard developers Cavia, but it couldn't have hurt. The result, of course, is Project Poseidon a successor to the first game mostly in name only.

Winback 2 does preserve at least one thing from the first game: the ability to use cover. In much the same way that kill.switch used this dynamic, any of the three team members you can control can throw their back up against a wall or crate and then bide their time until there's a hole in incoming fire to throw a few shots back at the enemy or lob a grenade or flashbang into the crowd.

Nearly all the weapons, from shotguns to to pistols to assault rifles (all of them lovingly decorated with superfluous digits and letters before their name for that militaristic touch) offer a laser scope, telling you exactly where your next shot will hit. The levels we played through became a simple matter of finding the proper wall and then popping out every couple seconds to take enemies down. If you happen to get ambushed and are within arm's reach of the bad guy, you can take them out with a throw move with a tap of the X button.

There's more to it, obviously, and this is where the game gets a little bit of its depth. Since you can target an enemy's torso, head or legs independently, the game gives you the options of downing them with a single headshot or picking off the limbs to get them to surrender. This not only counts as an arrest (which, along with time and remaining health -- which we'll get to in a second -- determines your final grade), but means the enemies drop their weapon. Because the game is incredibly stingy on ammunition, how you take out your opponents becomes almost as important as not getting killed by them.

As stated before, the game is team-based and offers the dynamic of playing through a level twice from two different viewpoints. Each of the team members -- confident squad leader Craig, newcomer sparkplug Mia or vet and demolitions expert Nick -- more or less play the same, with rolls, ducks and dives used to find cover or skirt laser beams, and really just offer different responses to queries. Each level has two of these characters dropped in, and you play through with one, then start over with the second, watching as their different paths wind around each other.

Most of the time this comes in the form of switches that one team member will press to lock or unlock doors or deactivate laser beams for the other, usually under some kind of time crunch. The first time through a level, you won't actually see what all the button pressing does, but a few minutes later, you're gifted with the receiving end of the teamwork. It's a pretty cool dynamic, actually, though it remains to be seen how keen we are on it after plowing through all of the game's 30 missions.

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