Ads 468x60px

Friday, December 2, 2011

Become a Super Soldier!

Game Category: Action - First Person, Alternate History, Military
Developer / Distributor: Burut CT / CDV Software
Release Date: 27 Mar 2006
Rating: ESRB - Mature, PEGI 18+

A Retro Flashback
World War II has been a constant barb in the psyche of humanity, but yet it somehow keeps on getting featured in computer games.

What first started out as a tepid attempt of cashing in on the topic was first seen in Castle Wolfenstein back in 1981; this was a top down stealth action game from Muse Software for the Apple II. It led to the release of a sequel known as Beyond Castle Wolfenstein three year later, which was more successful than it's predecessor.

Perhaps the greatest moment in gaming history was when id Software released Wolfenstein 3D. It featured a prisoner of war by the name of William "B.J." Blazkowicz attempting to flee from the dank confines of Castle Wolfenstein - a bastion of Nazi supremacy. All in glorious pixellated 3D.

Today, after a handful of iterations of failed and successful World War II FPS games riding on the success wave of Wolfenstein 3D, Burut CT and CDV Software have come together to bring to us this rather interesting vision of theirs - Übersoldier.

Unlike id Software's debut, you will be taking on the role of a Nazi soldier Karl Stolz, whose resurrection after an untimely death comes along with some supernatural combat abilities.

Tod ist mein leben!
Game Play
Übersoldier drops you off at a menu that seems to be lacking the word multiplayer; just too bad for those looking for a romp with friends on a LAN or the Internet. Let's then see if the single player campaign - which comes with three difficulty levels, is worth shelling out your hard earned cash this holiday season.

The campaign comes with 12 large levels and starts off with some prologue text about an expedition by SS Ernst Schäfer to the Tibetan city of Lhasa. It talks about a fictitious task by the Übermacht, a Nazi scientific society - they are to learn how to resurrect dead soldiers back to life. The game then loads a surprisingly entertaining cut scene featuring a rather nasty death for our protagonist.

Major Ouch!
The camera finally segues to a dark laboratory where Karl's body is dumped rather unceremoniously on a cold slab. His body is then elevated into a glowing sphere and infused with bolts of crackling energy.

After coming around, you will find Karl in (of all places) a mental hospital. You can put yourself through the paces by running the tutorials, which in our opinion doesn't take too long, is concise enough, and teaches you all the things that make this game significantly different from other first person shooter games.

Don't forget to look behind walls
Übersoldier plays like any first person shooter game; you move Karl in the standard manner (via keyboard - W, S, A, D, and mouse to steer). There is a handy compass at the top right of your display which shows you the direction you must take to your next waypoint. This is handy as some of the levels can get to be rather large later on.

Next, allow us to elaborate the unique selling points for Übersoldier:

Time Shield
Karl has the ability to raise a shield around him. This shield will stop bullets dead in their tracks - in fact they will appear as points of lead embedded in a rippling blue spherical wall that protects Karl from harm.  The shield can be used to give friendly forces some cover, but do look out for the stray enemy who walks through the shield to take a pot shot at you. Yes, the shield only stops bullets!

Blue, blue, my world is blue
The time shield ability is activated at a touch of the Q key. Raising and maintaining the shield takes up energy, which is represented by a bar at the bottom left of the screen shot shown above. The bar increases when you kill enemies and is depleted when it stops bullets. The bar is blue at the left and shifts to a white colour on the right. If you turn off the shield while the bar is white, the embedded bullets will fly out with deadly speed in the direction you face. Otherwise, the bullets will just fall to the ground. If you ask me, this is by far an ultra-cool way to exterminate enemies who stand before you.

Be rewarded for your wrath
Übersoldier probably sports one of the most gory reward systems ever. You will get a raise in your maximum hit points for three consecutive kills with your melee weapon - that is, a wickedly gleaming dagger. 

THIS is definitely not one for the kids come Christmas
More controversial perhaps is the ability to raise your temporal shield level with three consecutive head-shots to your enemies. Things are not so straightforward though, enemies may wear helmets that require you to shoot at their heads twice - the first shot will dislodge the helmet, while the second shot will be for the kill.

The enemies in Übersoldier appear to be quite smart. They will attack you in groups, snipe at you from windows, and expertly move in close just to inflict melee damage upon you. You even see them taking cover, attempting to flank you, and running away to call fellow comrades for a concerted attack on you. These guys really are quite nasty, even at easy level.

Break dance all night long!
To add to the realism, you may see soldiers shaking in abject frustration at the ringing in their ears after a grenade goes off nearby, or perhaps witness objects they carry go flying off their bodies after they are killed. The rag doll system here is pretty interesting as enemies can die in weird positions brought about by the game's physics engine.

Continuing with the topic on ultra-realism, you will find that the 12 levels in the game can be quite huge, architecturally complex, and visually impressive; Übersoldier does pretty well in this department. Some of the best level designs include a claustrophobic one-man assault through a submarine that throws in an interesting mini-game reminiscent of the Silent Hunter submarine simulation game. Here's a hint - brace yourself for launching torpedoes!

Tour a German U-boat
There's also an interesting ship yard, a prison bunker, and several large industrial style complexes to infiltrate. Plus there are sewers, and lots of ventilation shafts to crawl through as well.

The weapons being employed in Übersoldier look nicely detailed and textured. And, enemies come in several flavours, including medical staff, standard soldiers, SS officers, and special forces men all dressed up in their chemical defence gear.

Up close and personal with an enemy
The main theme in Übersoldier is decidedly grave and somber. Your mileage for the other music themes may vary, but we feel that they do the game some justice. The sound effects sound loud when near and perhaps a bit washed out from afar. The explosion of grenades sound a bit muffled, but overall the audio holds up pretty well.

Occasionally, you will hear enemies mouthing in English, "Watch out, Rebels!" or "Alarm!". Don't expect to hear any cool German phrases. The voice over in the cutscenes were also a bit disappointing. There are a couple of lines delivered poorly and everything feels rather contrived.

Uhm... sure thing!
Übersoldier's unique campaign offers quite a panoply of level designs and settings. This game is something definitely worth investigating for a different experience. 
  • The game will be taking you on a grand tour through many exotic locations; you will often find yourself making an extensive tour of a level and then making a switchback to return to a central room or area, only to find that a nearby previously locked door is now accessible.
  • The game engine does a superb job of bringing these levels to life.
  • In terms of excitement, your daily dosage of intense gun battles will definitely be fulfilled with Übersoldier.
  • The Time Shield ability makes for a unique and excellent game play experience.
  • You are given a way to improve your health and energy bar during game play, so exploit this feature to the fullest.

Enjoy operating machines, and other interesting objects
The biggest mistake by far was excluding multiplayer from Übersoldier.
  • The score would probably have gone up another notch if multiplayer was available in the game.
  • Having English voice overs for the German baddies equates to an often unpalatable and disappointing experience. If you have to do it right, look back to what was done in Wolfenstein 3D.
  • Game play is too linear in some areas of the game.
  • As levels tend to be huge, load times may take quite a while.
  • The Wrath Reward System raises the bar for ultra-violence that may sometimes make you suspend your belief; this is definitely not a game for kids.
  • Anyway, the storyline probably belongs in the world of B movies - nothing too spectacular here.

Did I point this weapon thingamajig the right way?
When you look to the core experience for this game, you will realize that Übersoldier is actually just another run of the mill first person shooter action game. If there had been more super abilities and another kind of reward system in place, the game may have scored even higher.

The voice acting can be easily avoided by turning off the audio part; especially if you hate hearing English speaking actors taking on the role of a foreign language speaking character. We also suggest you ignore all misgivings of the story and just enjoy the first person shooter game play.

There's no doubt though that Übersoldier will make for an interesting afternoon or two to keep you warm during this season's holiday.

Oh yeah, and there's one AA gun deployed right
behind me... how convenient!
Daily PC Game Review Score: 6.5 / 10
Review Date: 2 Dec 2011


Post a Comment