A new tactical strategy title recently hit retailers from Cenega and developer Plastic Reality. With a similar premise to Pyro Studios’ Commandos series, Korea: Forgotten Conflict puts the player right in the heart of the Korean War, a conflict that has seen little coverage in games. This review was meant to be online a couple of weeks ago but there was an issue with the original code that came through to us which caused the game to crash and lock-up. However, the good news is we have a new copy and we’re basing our review on the final version of the game which is something we always strive for at Loadedinc.The game kicks off with historical background video footage to familiarise you with the scenario, which is just as well, many of you have probably heard of the Korean War due to the popular TV series M.A.S.H but not really known why there was a conflict in the first place. The historical background is well presented with good narration and black and white film footage which gets the player ready for the games’ initial missions, setting the mood perfectly. So it’s off to sabotage the North Koreans and change the tide of the war with your characters who include Sarah Parker (Medic), Benjamin Goodlover (Ranger), Nighthawk (Sniper), Connor McGregor (Military engineer) and Kim Yoon-Soo (Korean specialist).Plastic Reality ease you into the gameplay with a few training missions which get you acquainted with the controls, and unlike most training missions in games these days, they are actually reasonably tough. These missions are tough, but not necessarily due to their difficulty, but because they teach players the control system which takes some getting used to . The game features what can best be described as an action bar at the bottom of the screen where there’s character portraits as well as important game functions on the right. An area Plastic Reality call the ‘six pack’. The interface sections are pretty simple to understand and use but it is a little fiddly to get to grips with. From the six pack players can bring up gameplay features in the main play area by clicking the icons. You can highlight items hidden on the mission, click an enemy to view their current line of sight and so on. The character’s inventory can also be accessed by the character portrait and I have to say it’s really not that well executed. Moving items can be a pain and they’re not that readily accessible in the heat of the moment.The game features around 12 missions in total, each progressively harder and more complex in design with the first three being tutorials. The more characters you need to control the harder it becomes due to the fact that the character selection interface along the bottom is not the most responsive and has a tendency to jump to the wrong character, it could have been me, but it seemed to happen an awful lot.If there was one thing that stands out about his game it’s the visuals. Plastic Reality’s Typhoon engine looks fantastic and provides the gamer with a rich and highly detailed 3D environment. When we took a look at an earlier build, the engine was a little clunky but fortunately this has now been ironed out and performance is reasonably good. The attention to detail is pretty impressive, every object is crisp, the characters are well defined and there’s great detail on the vehicles and landscapes.At the other end of the spectrum the game’s sound seemed lacking. The music was your typical military affair that didn’t quite gel at times and the sound effects were minimal, there just wasn’t enough here to bring the scenarios to life. Voice acting was also decidedly average.Being fully 3D you have the ability to rotate the map and zoom right down into the action. While this is a great feature, this is also where the game’s control system starts to fall down. Moving the view is rather fiddly due to much of the control being via hotkeys. At crucial points, especially near entrances to indoor areas, you have to mess about with the camera to try and get the best angle, and coupled with the fact that the ceilings on the indoor areas don’t always disappear to reveal what’s inside when you think they should, it can be frustrating at crucial points, especially considering it’s mission over as soon as you die.The game’s AI could be described as erratic. You could sneak around certain areas and do fine then employ the same tactics later on only to have the AI come charging over to reveal your location, very frustrating and let down at times. The enemy also have a tendency to get stuck on objects which makes it hard to anticipate their movements and harder to target, it’s pretty sloppy at times.So there you have it, a mix of the good, bad and the ugly. Plastic Reality have the right idea with Korea: Forgotten Conflict but segments of the game are poorly executed. Was the first review copy so bugged it crashed continuously a sign that this game was hurried out the door? Maybe, maybe not, but either way this is one really very mediocre game that had the potential to be so much better. Oh well, maybe next time.
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