Platform: 360 (Also on PC)
ESRB Rating: T
Publisher: Evolved Games
Developer: Atomic Motion
Review by: John Gustafson
For every great game there is an equally poor one. It is called natural order, or the great balancing act. Whichever attribute one applies to the nature of the gaming scene, Raven Squad sits at the very bottom of the heap, promising to make every game that came before and after look that much better. Thank Raven Squad for being as bad as “playable” can be and Pads & Panels for playing it so the reader does not have to.
Raven Squad seeks to meld first-person shooter elements with a real-time strategy overlay in what can only be described as ambitiously flawed. Set in the Amazonian jungles, a for-hire mercenary squad (the Ravens) is on the hunt for a piece of lost data for an unnamed company which happens to be located in the midst of a civil war-torn province. The Ravens are split into two squads, one with heavy weapons, such as frag grenades and rockets, the other smoke and flash grenades.
Players can choose to complete missions in first-person shooter, real-time strategy or with a combination of both styles. Neither viewpoint is better than the other, as the teammate AI is offensively stupid. Wherever a FPS controlled soldier goes, his squad mates follow in loose formation, opening them up to enemy fire. Orders cannot be given to the squad mates or the other group during FPS. Further compounding the issue, targeting in first-person is inconsistent, random and frustrating. The targeting reticule is incredibly unresponsive and when finally lined up to a target is a crap shoot when it comes to scoring a hit. Movement feels like a pig stuck in mud and equally unresponsive.
The RTS elements fare no better, with command issues ruining the experience. Telling a squad to use a special attack can lead to the unresponsive inaction or the particular mercenary to expose himself to fire before eventually following through with the command. The navigational cues are just as off-the-wall when a squad would rather run in front of cover barriers instead of behind them.
Believe it or not, that is not the worst part of Raven Squad. The voice “acting” is, hands down, the worst this reviewer has ever heard in a game. The actors fail miserably with the inflection, pronunciation and delivery of each line of dialogue. The accents are inconsistent and their rate of speech is all over the place. What is typically an overlooked element of the video game whole, Raven Squad’s dialogue is so distracting that the player will focus on the speech rather than the game.
There is also an online co-op mode of play, but the online community is completely non-existent. Either no one is buying this game (if so, thank God) or those who have are fearful of admitting to other self masochists that they purchased it. As a result, this part of the game was not available for review.
It is a wonder Raven Squad was green lit in the first place. Even with a starting price tag of $49.99, Raven Squad is an overpriced trash heap masquerading as a game. The atrocious sound, poor graphics, horrendous gameplay elements and abysmal execution are offensive on more levels than the game has in its campaign. There are no redeeming qualities to Raven Squad which cannot even subscribe to the “so bad it’s good” tagline. For crying out loud, naughty children would be better off with a pile of coal in their stockings than Raven Squad.
For more info, www.ravensquad.com