Beyond the Law: The Third Wave is just not a good game. I tend to give benefit of the doubt to the smaller developers, overlooking minor flaws and quirkiness when evaluating their games. Unfortunately, The Third Wave’s Minor Flaws are numerous, and are further eclipsed by its Major Flaws and some truly glaring Lack of Fun.
Here’s the setup: While the US is busy fighting terrorists around the globe, he Mafia has decided to take advantage of the lack of attention directed its way. So the Mob decides to start its own wave of terror, including an attempt at blowing up the Nation’s capitol. Who knew the Mafia would get its hands on nuclear weapons? Well, all of the government’s Armed Forces are apparently stymied by the awesome firepower of Organized Crime, so it’s up to a band of paramilitary “experts” to take care of this threat to Life, Liberty, and Whatnot. And so the game begins.
The Third Wave is a real-time, squad-based strategy game detailing the exploits of this paramilitary organization. The first order of business is to assemble a team of operatives. There are a handful of units to choose from, most of the difference being the sort of weapon they carry and how quickly they can accomplish certain tasks, such as disarming security systems. There are All-Arounds, the generic soldier type, Tactical Male/Female, a sneaky, knife-wielding back-stabbing type, Technicals, which are the wimpy-but-good-with-electronics type, the Bodyguard, lumbering brutes with guns, and Snipers, which carry sniper rifles. The type of weapon carried is important, because the unit can never change from that. If your Bodyguard starts off a mission with a pistol, that’s all he’ll ever be able to carry. Apparently the training for these guys is so intensive and specialized that they’ve become one with their weapon of choice, making them unable to ever even try something else. As the game progresses, there is more money available to hire the better operatives (which are really just people with better guns).
Once a team is assembled, it’s time to hit the mission. Each mission consists of a series of objectives and a bunch of guards standing in the way. The guards are an interesting lot. They are nearly blind as a bat and deaf as a post. Reminiscent of the Metal Gear games, the guards have a cone of vision, and can see nothing beyond that. Amusingly, this cone of vision is about 15 feet. So you can have an operative standing 16 feet away, under a bright lamp, and the guard does nothing. This is only amusing until you discover that no gun except the sniper rifle has a range of…you guessed it…greater than the guards’ cones of vision. Which means you can’t shoot the enemy unless you’re less than 15 feet away. I guess they just don’t make bullets like they used to. Sniper rifles allow units to attack from an amazing 20 feet or so (but that’s it). However one plans to take out the guards, it has to be done carefully. Once alerted to your presence (and within their firing range), the guards are Bringers of Death. They never miss, fire at an alarming rate, and can kill any operative in just a few shots. Due to the terribly clunky interface, if you’re ever up against more than 2 guards at once, it’s time for a reload.
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