Review: Raven Squad

When you take all the zeniths that comprise one particular genre and infuse them with another , you usually have a title on your hand that should enjoy moderate success. However, in order to create a premium sort of product, you must first ensure that the elements you are blending ensure the highest quality. In the case of Raven Squad, touted as a bizarre hybrid of FPS fragging and RTS decision-making, blurring the genre lines is a task best left to more skilled developers.

Via blurbs full of misleading information on the box, you might be under the impression that Raven Squad is a perfectly balanced marriage of RTS/FPS goodness, when, in spite of the fact that you often issue orders via isometric view here and there, the game at its heart a squad-based shooter in the flavor of Republic Commando. And to be quite honest, it’s disappointing. This could have been a great accomplishment when it comes to crossing the lines between several different game types.

Raven Squad follows a bit of a nondescript team through equally dismal areas in a story that is absolutely throwaway — you could copy and paste the same bit of backstory for a host of other guerrila-styled FPSs or RTSs. You can command each of your six soldiers, each with their own painfully standard weapon that you’ve seen many times over if you’re at all familiar with the world of FPSs – rifles, shotguns, machine guns, et cetera. They’re all, of course, perfectly interesting in their own right, but without savory personalities behind them they also tend to blur into the scenery.

You can end up doing significant amounts of damage with guns unsuited for the task at hand, which is obviously terribly unbalanced. I suppose the developers didn’t see a use for interesting weapons if conventional ones wouldn’t cut the mustard either.

Your enemies aren’t exactly the brightest crayons in the box, often standing in one place as you riddle them with bullets. As if it weren’t enough to stand around like logs as you pump them full of lead, their stony reactions to the excruciating pain they must be going through are null and void. Their insipid reactions to simple tasks such as grenade lobs are laughable. Your own team isn’t quite up to the task, either, as half the time they run headfirst into a hale of gunfire. Luckily your own intelligence can usually circumvent their stupidity, but you shouldn’t have to babysit your computer-controlled teammates.

Most of your in-game exploits will occur via FPS view. The RTS pieces tossed into the mix are uninteresting. You’ll issue commands to your troops via RTS-view, and that’s just about it. Most of that time consists of simple directional commands rather than strategic options that you’d expect from a full-fledged RTS. Why implement such shoddy gameplay when the game could have been — at worst — a generic FPS title? Your basic functions in this mode consist of picking up health boosts, throwing grenades, and getting from point A to point B a little quicker, not gameplay derivative of a true RTS.

Levels are extremely linear and it doesn’t help that the game is painfully simple. It can be easily completed within a few hours, if you can stand the horrid voice acting. Every bad accent you have ever heard is on display here, acting with such terrible tenacity that you’ll be reaching for the mute button in no time. Coupled with graphics that would have seemed just a bit outdated only a few years ago, Raven Squad is neither visually nor aurally pleasing.

Raven Squad is very much a title that belongs in the bargain bin, and it’s quite a shame to have to say that. With a little bit more polish it could have been an engaging experience — it can’t be too difficult to get more talented voice actors or to truly incorporate RTS elements rather than pseudo-RTS adventures. You may want to pass on this in favor of something with a little more meat. However, should you choose to partake in the bargain-bin-tastic experience, you’ll not have completely wasted your time. There is a bit of fun to be had here and there, even if it lies within the joy of simple destruction and the guffaws had at your teammates’ expense. Here’s to hoping the devs learned their lessons with this strike-out.

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