Us Norwegian fellows aren't very much noticed in the gaming industry, and it's simply because we don't have a whole lot of companies in that area (we rule oil, but that's another story). On the other hand, when we do make games and they actually get released on a worldwide basis they are usually of good quality. Innerloop Studios is a bunch of guys who are located in the capital of Norway, Oslo. Their list of games is quite short, and if my memory isn't mistaking me Project IGI is their only one. What I find rather sad is the fact that Eidos publishes it making it look very much as if their own team of people did the actual work. If you ever play the game and have a look at the credits you'll notice a whole lot of usual Norwegian names and I can say for a fact that the production team over at Eidos is not filled with Norwegian guys, by far. Since I don't know the entire story about rights etc etc I'll stop ranting about this and actually write about the game.
Introduction / Story:
A nuke as been stolen. Some female named Ekk along with various military people want to use it, which naturally is a no-no for us peace loving John Doe's You, being a regular good guy, with an english accent (!) you're out to put a stop to this. Your greatest help, besides your accordingly very mobile collection of very deadly weapons you have a friend in the agency you work for by the name of Anya. She's a nuclear psysicist along with other fairly hard skills and she announces the briefing and helps you during the mission. She's a sexy woman and there flies a couple of sparks between them now and then, hehe. During the 14 missions of the game quite alot happens, so even though the story is pretty thin the sequences between the missions are interesting, if not even exciting.
Here is the story according to the official website:
Joseph woke. The dark cell walls were still there. So was the chair where he had been beaten. His bed was as uncomfortable as it looked. He thought it had lice but that was the last thing on his mind. The cuts on his face had stopped bleeding but the bruises on his chest were darker and larger than before. Then he heard the sound again. Footsteps. The sound of footsteps was moving towards his cell. His pulse quickened. Two men were coming down the hallway that led to his cell. The metal cell door swung open with a clang and white light flooded the small room. Flinching from the light. He tried desperately to look at the man silhuetted in the doorway. Slowly the large figure spoke: "It is I, your Uncle Jach! Jach Priboi". The head of the family, were here. Jach Priboi stepped forward. His hands clasped behind his back. Closing his eyes, Jach lowered his head. Jach asks gently: "Who did you call, Joseph? Who? What did you tell them?" "Uncle" Joseph stammered "I called no-one. I mean, it could have been anyone!". Joseph was panicking: "It must have been that government agent. You know how hard-up Moscow is. They pay them nothing. They'll sell anything to anyone!" "Wrong answer. Joseph" Jach whispered. His right hand moved into view. it held a claw hammer. Turning the hammer in his hand. Jach looked up. He smiled. A gold tooth gleamed. "My trademark. The hammer." Jach added. Joseph began to scream...
Located just outside Washinton. The pentagon's elite counter nuclear terrorist unit had traced the call back to a cell phone. The report placed the call in down-town Riga. Capital of Estonia. Part of the former soviet union. Estonia lay between the Baltic Sea. With Russia to the east. The cell phone was still on and its location was being tracked by satellite. Major Anya looked up briefly from the report. She paused. The caller knew about the deaths of six marines and the battlefield nuke they had been guarding. He knew about the storage depot in Germany and he knew the security systems were brought down. Nobody outside of the president and the top echelon of military intelligence knew this data. Not the press. Not the internet. No-one. She thought. The caller said he knew who had taken it and why. he was due to call yesterday, to discuss terms. Hwo to 'proceed with out relationship'. His words. But today nothing. he hadn't called. 10 bucks get you five say this guy has been taken. Anya decided. No more time to wait. Anya thought. Her monitor held the deployment of personell. As usual. No-one local. Not with the skill set this operation required.
She reached for the phone: "Give me the London office......." "I need a field op. He has to know Estonia, former Warsaw pact weaponry, local language skills for starters. Mission class is extraction, one target, male. Set it up, the usual channels" This man better be good, she hoped. I haven't much time. we haven't much time.
Project IGI - The mission throws you into the deep end as Jones. Former SAS solder. Now field operative for the west's intelligence agencies.
* Track down Joseph Priboi. Estonian mafioso arms dealer and bring him back for interrogation.
* His cell phone has been tracked to a military airfield.
* Satellites have pin pointed the location, close to the coast. But in rough hilly terrain. Plenty of cover exists, enough to fly a recues man out to the coast in a stolen helicopter.
"The base is guarded and surrounded with electric fences and mines. It houses elements of an armoured airborne division of the Estonia army, so expect helicopter gun ships with rockets, APC's armed with cannon and heavy machine guns. "Take it nice and easy Jones"
The only question Jones has. For now. Are how to get in. How to get out and just who the hell is Joseph Priboi?
At times my gaming rig pisses me off, it's almost a year old now with a Asus K7M + a Creative Geforce DDR. The problem sadly lies in the motherboard's chipset, which is Irongate *something* by the way. The Irongate chipset has various bugs when used with a geforce card, meaning in some games it the pc simply freezes or goes back to windows. An example of a game not very much liked by the motherboard is Hitman, a game I love. What really surprised me about Project IGI is the stability and compatibility of the engine. Crashes are very rare, so thank you god for that. Loading the levels, which are usually pretty large, takes only a few seconds. It runs very smooth, and the only large bug I could find is with texturing on some of the levels. The people look very much like people, and even though my anti-aliasing setting are only at 2x - software the quality is very good so it doesn't feel like you're playing a game that should've been released 1-2 years ago. The buildings look nice, even though most are military complexes along with some regular houses where there are mostly crates, so don't expect fully furnished houses or anything. When I play a game where there are houses that you can walk into etc I expect there to be a good amount of variation in the actual design of the house along with the textures on walls etc, and what disappointed me in this game is the fact that alot of the houses you walk into during the game look pretty much identical. If the 3d modelers would've worked a bit more at creating different, if not just slightly different buildings then my ultra-picky sense of what's 'perty' and what ain't might pipe down some. Anyhew, the atmosphere is very James Bond'ish, and the feeling you get from the game sort of resembles Golden Eye from Nintendo 64.
The Music / Sounds:
As I stated earlier, the James Bond feeling is definately in this game, so naturally they had to include some sneaky tunes that would make people feel like one man armies (the sneaking kind), while still having it somewhat different from tunes you've heard in James Bond games. One thing you'll notice if you ever play this game is the length of certain levels. When there is a long level you hear the same background tune over and over and over and over again. I'm sure you all know the feeling, basicly that it's awfully annoying. Seeing there is a decent amount of variation between each song you don't get so terribly annoyed, unless you're one of the unfortunate souls who gets stuck at a level. If you've read one of my previous reviews you might've understood that the atmosphere in each game is something I emphasize when I choose the score for a game. Lego games shouldn't have heavy metal music in the background and first person shooters shouldn't have cute anime music neither. Project IGI is a game where you play an agent, and the music suits that role very well indeed.
When you install a first person shooter game the keys you use during the game should be what you're used to from other games. Project IGI presents some kind of little used features. Lets begin. You have some very cool binoculars which you can zoom in very far with, but the great thing about it is that when you're using it you can see all the enemies in your view with a red box around them, unless they're under various things. You'll use those binoculars on pretty much al the mission except the last ones. Secondly you have a map-computer. It's not your usual one you see in the store, this is the kind of map where you can use a satellite to zoom down at the area where you mission is located. It's really useful when you're in a mission out in the open so you'll at least know if there's a solder armed with a spas-12, ready to fill you decrease your energy in a major way. The map computer doesn't see everything though, because when there's for instance a sniper up at a water tower, or simply somewhere else where there's roof it doesn't detect anything. It's the way it'd be in the real world. When I started playing this game I had been going through some very intense days of Hitman playing so I was used to the good guy handling some sprays of an ak-47, so when mr good guy died after a little trouble in Project IGI I understood it would take some time to get used to. During the days of testing and planning the analysis I got very much used to the fact that going amuck is usually a bad choice. When I'm at the subject of going amuck I suppose you'd like to know some of the note-worthy guns you'll run into. Let's see, you have your regular Glock 17 (decent handgun), single and dual UZI (very fast but does not concentrate extremely much on the target you aim for), the AK-47 (semi-automatic rifle, better concentration than UZI, very lethal when aimed correctly), Jackhammer (very cool "shotgun", very quick and very lethal), Dragonuv (Sniper Rifle, need I say more?) and the LAW80 (badass rocket launcher), and last but not least there's some grenades etc, along with a couple of guns you'll have to find for yourself. They all look very much real, and the reloading animation is the best I've seen. During the game you'll use computers to open things, pick locks etc etc and while you do so there is a progress meter on the lower side of the screen. While the meter is progressing you can use the mouse to move the camera around our good guy. It's a cool feature, a feature I for one haven't seen in a game before, so it's one of the thing that'll make me remember this game for some time. The bottom line is - the learning curve is at about 15-30 minutes for the regular gamer, and when you master the keys you'll start to wonder why there aren't features like that in similar games.
For some reason Innerloop Studios and Eidos did not implement any multiplayer possiblities at ALL. Single Player is the only choice you have. It would be very awesome indeed to have a Half-Life: Counterstrike'ish multiplayer part of the game, especially since both games are somewhat similar.
In many ways this is a very good game, but there are bugs and there are features that could make the game a fair bit better. This is another one of the games I've been playing for extreme amounts of hours at a time, so therefore in my book it's good.
Hopefully there'll be released a patch for at least some of the bugs, even if a multiplayer possibility might be too much to ask.