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Review by: Chris Harding
Published: June 8, 2000
Almost as common as thirst in the Sahara Desert or snow on Mt. Everest are 3D action games. Starting with titles like Wolfenstein, this genre has exploded in recent years and there is no end in sight. With more and more companies joining the fray, the storyline of a game is becoming all-important, if not tantamount, to its success. Sure, shooting the bad guys is fun, especially if you are playing against your real-life friends but that wasn’t the original reason for buying it. The competition is fierce and for a 3D action title to make it there must be a gimmick, a catch, something players haven’t yet experienced. Turning heads and time with their spin on reality is newcomer Refraction Games and Codename Eagle.
Codename Eagle literally turns back the clock to the early 20th century. Reality however has changed and nothing is how our history books have reported. What you are encountering is a time warp and its parallel universe. In this world Mother Russia is the only superpower and she has flexed and demonstrated that position mightily. As the old Tsar dies his son Pietre inherits the throne and all its powers. These powers however aren’t enough — he wants complete control of not only Russia but the world as well. Thus he begins an assault on neighboring countries engulfing the entire world in war. Many of the world’s countries have already fallen victim to the young Tsar and his armies but there are pockets of resistance. The countries free of Pietre’s rule have formed an alliance to defeat his armies and overthrow him.
Your name is Red and you are a member of the Alliance’s Shadow Command. Shadow Command is a group of covert operatives working deep in the heart of Russia. You not alone behind enemy lines though: there are two more agents — Mortar and Goggles, who assist you and your leader Captain Potter. In Codename Eagle the forces of Shadow Command are given twelve missions to complete. If these missions are completed successfully the Tsar will fall, his empire crumble and his forces abandon him, thereby restoring peace not only to Russia but to the entire world. As you play the game, the story continues to unfold. There are some new twists and turns, treachery, and even secrets that will keep your interest peaked.
Codename Eagle’s missions give 3D action fans a little of everything. The first mission has you infiltrating an enemy base, stealing weapons documents, and sneaking back out undetected. Even if you are undetected on your way in, leaving is an entirely different matter. Once one enemy is aware of your presence, they all are, and they will pursue you relentlessly. Each of the twelve missions has at least two objectives to complete, but most have three, and some as many as five. The weapons you have at your disposal to accomplish these missions and objectives are many and varied. You can use bazookas, dynamite, machine guns, knives, grenades, and flamethrowers to name a few. Some of the missions will require you to travel; as such you have the ability to pilot boats, drive trucks and tanks, ride motorcycles, and fly planes.
While Codename Eagle gives you sufficient weapons and vehicles to complete the missions it also includes enough flaws to make that an extremely difficult task. It’s highly implausible that Red is unable to shoot through a chain link fence and strike an enemy. Moreover if he runs into the same fence with a truck, the fence isn’t damaged at all but the truck is. This same truck which topples trees can’t even bend or break a fence. Let’s get real; I know this is supposed to be an alternate reality but on what planet was that? The realism factor is suspect in many instances but I’ll talk more about that in the criterion.
Investigation of this alternate reality reveals that Codename Eagle breaks some boundaries in the 3D action genre: Players are given more gameplay options than seen in previous action titles. Codename Eagle players can fly airplanes and jump out of them parachuting into hostile territory. Piloting torpedo boats, driving armored cars and tanks, and using A-A guns in addition to fighting on foot is just icing on an already large and frosted cake. Other games may allow you to battle both on foot and behind the wheel of an armored vehicle but that’s about as far as they go.
Another ground-breaking area involves Codename Eagle‘s replayability factor. The success of each mission is graded by the amount of time it took to complete and your weapons’ accuracy percentage. In addition, the list of the troops you dispatched — shown as a percentage of the total number in that mission — is factored in, and so it is possible to complete a mission and not receive 100.
Additionally,Codename Eagle gives single players the option to replay missions for better scores. Overall, though, its replayability is to be found in its multiplayer games. Codename Eagle is supported by GameSpy, but you have to get an update to be able to play it — the version included doesn’t list any Codename Eagle servers. If GameSpy isn’t your cup of tea you can play with up to sixteen people over a LAN using IPX or TCP/IP. Game types include standard Deathmatch, team Deathmatch and team Capture the Flag. In multiplayer teamplay, it is impossible for you to kill your teammates. This is an added bonus for all multiplayer wannabes.
The beta I previewed in March didn’t seem to have undergone any significant changes or even subtle enhancements before the final release. I look at betas as the final tuning and testing grounds for the upcoming retail race. The game’s tuneup wasn’t nearly long enough or thorough enough. In playing Codename Eagle I was severely disappointed.
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