Raven Squad tells the story of a military unit trapped behind enemy lines in the Amazonian jungles. Fighting tooth and nail against an oppressive force whilst offering the gamer the chance to embark on first person shooting action combined with some RTS elements. Sounds like it could be good…on paper, yet the reality is perhaps far removed from the glossy sounding gameplay the game tries to exude.
Keeping things simple, you have two squads made up of three men in each. You’re able to hot swap between any squad by pressing down on the d-pad and then between any squad member by pressing the other directions on the d-pad. Each squad member has their own weapon and skill which can be used at any time although ammo for these skills is limited unless you hunt around for more. The skills aren’t really much to write home about, in that they are standard fare for other shooters, i.e being able to throw a grenade being one skill for one character, yet the others aren’t able to. It’s a cheap way of restricting the player and to try and make each of the six characters appear different from each other.
When available, you’re able to switch between first person viewpoints for the squad members or by pressing the Y button the ‘tactical view’ which allows you to effectively cheat and see where enemies are without actually having a line of sight. Think, having an orbital satellite view at your disposal here. The FPS gameplay is pretty standard fare although incredibly dated in terms of fluidity of movement and shooting mechanics. There’s no real sense of impact with any of the weapons and with movement being very sluggish and cumbersome (getting stuck on inanimate objects) makes for a rather lacklustre experience. The enemy AI is also rather poor and leaves little to the imagination as they tend to just rush you with no regard to preserving their lives.
The same problems arise when using the tactical view as you feel removed from the gameplay as you watch in horror, spectacles of horrid AI that seem so out of place in this day and age of gaming. Whilst a novel idea to be able to switch views and issue orders via an overhead view, in practise is just badly executed. It’s often hard to plot routes and enemies will suddenly appear from all sides with no real sense of immersion to the whole thing.
The missions are also very ‘samey’ where you’ll basically head from one checkpoint to the next, gunning your way through the rather mundane opposition. The story fails to captivate also, it’s tiring and lacking in any imagination to the point where you’re most likely going to want to skip the scenes as soon as you’re able to.
The graphics are probably the game’s best feature and that’s not saying much. They look almost last generation and fail to offer any visual splendour. Character models are ugly, enemies lacking in variation, and the locales dull and uninspiring. Definitely below average and not utilising the power of current generation technology.
The sound is abysmal and features some of the most dire voice acting to date. Forget amateur dramatics as it sounds like some random people were pulled in from the street and given some lines to read. There’s no feeling, no connection with the situations they are in, and the performances just end up grating, becoming cringe worthy at times. The other sounds effects are as expected, but whatever semblance of reality/atmosphere they produce is severely hampered by the voice acting, same can be said about the music.
Not the longest of games and one where you might just switch off before you reach the end. A game that truly tests the patience and the eyelids as sleep feels so much like the better option. Replay value is based around getting some achievements you might have missed the first time round and that’s if you’ve got a sadistic streak. You can embark on co-op but to find another player of equal disposition is probably tougher than the game itself.
Raven Squad sounded great on paper, and in many regards you could have forgiven poor graphics and dodgy sound if there was some flair and fun to be had with the gameplay. Sadly there is not. Poor controls, horrible AI, inane story and an overall lack of polish let the game down below an already low bar. You might get some enjoyment from the game if you like punishing yourself, but to be frank, there are so many better shooters on the market that it’s incredibly hard to recommend such an unfulfilled game. Buy or rent at your own peril.