Conflict: Denied Ops

Conflict: Denied Sales

Pivotal Games tries to mix up the Conflict series with disastrous results.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: March 16, 2008
I would never go so far as to say that the Conflict series was a particularly good franchise, but as a simple squad-based shooter, it at least got the job done. Denied Ops, then, is a marked departure from the rest of the series in that it flat-out sucks in just about every respect. Sure, I could talk about how the squad has been whittled down to a two-weapon cliché-ridden special ops duo, or that the previous games' loose use of current events to set the scene for some infiltration missions has been ditched in favor of a bunch of apparent WMD stockpiles all over the globe (all orchestrated by a Venezuelan bad guy, but that's not really important.

What is important, apparently, are two things: one, the LZ is almost always hot, and two, bad guys love exploding barrels. It's a wonder the whole of the Middle East hasn't exploded in a giant mushroom cloud, as apparently if you are a bad guy, you set up a base of operations and then litter the surrounding 50 mile radius with approximately 26 billion barrels. Oh, and fuel cans. And tanks of explosive gas. I'm guessing developer Pivotal Games wanted to show off their fancy Havok-powered physics that let the barrels shoot up into the air before exploding, but considering most enemies just crumple to the floor in the most unrealistic ways possible, I'm guessing the effort probably could have been spent elsewhere.

Like, say, the engine, which swings wildly from choppy to butter smoove almost as often as Lang, the token black guy, calls sniper-slinging Graves "bro," or at least as many times as Graves makes some snide comment about Lang being "green." They don't get along, y'see, and it's just like one of those 80s cop movies/TV shows, except these guys are on the hunt for trrrststssss. It's clear that you're meant to play Denied Ops with a friend, since the AI for your "buddy" that should take over when you freely jump between them often leaves them inspecting what must be the world's most amazing wall until you order them to your position or wherever your crosshairs are pointing. Sometimes they'll shoot at stuff, but usually they'll just stay put like a good doggie until you yell them over to where you are.

This is a bad thing, though, because you can often be halfway across the level when you're shot and killed by a magic bullet (not to be confused with the other 20 or so that hit you and just caused a little red to creep into the corners of your vision). You're rocketed back into the other player's body and have to find your way over to your partner to give 'em a shot of magic juice to get them back into the running.

One could excuse the four or so hours of single-player co-op if the games you could play with other people (either local or online) were good enough to prop up the rest of it, but again, Denied Ops limps through things. Team and straight Deathmatch bring up the run-and-gun segments, with Conquest saddled with adding any depth to the online component. Here's the fun part, though: you can only play as Lang or Graves. Even online. And guess what happens when you put a sniper in a long range gunfight with a heavy weapons dude?

I don't even want to think about the visuals or audio long enough to talk about them. Both are offensively bad, from the Xbox-quality graphics and level detail to the frequent and pointless use of stereotypical comments and ham-fisted injections of "edgy" cussing. Even if the entire game was meant to be taken as satire, it still comes off as shoddily executed. Don't play it. Don't rent it. For the love of all that is good and holy in the world don't buy it. In fact, it's probably best to just pretend like Denied Ops never existed.
The Verdict