A few years ago, I downloaded a demo of a game called Far Cry. It was all the rage at the time, mostly because of its incredible graphics, if I recall correctly. And pretty they were, as pretty on my old PC as a Flickr slideshow. Same speed as well. It appeared that Far Cry would have to wait until I was able to get a stronger computer to run it. That eventually happened, and I was soon shooting my way across a beautiful uncharted island in Micronesia. But things got a little weird when I had to start shooting at mutants (again). It's always mutants. Why is it always mutants?? I wished for a game with the mechanics of Far Cry, but with all-human opponents. Call it misanthropy, but I just prefer to fight humans. Mutants? I got nothing against mutants.
This brings us to City Interactive's Code of Honor 2 Conspiracy Island. In Conspiracy Island, you play the role of Sergeant Boulet, a commando in an elite branch of the Foreign Legion. Terrorists have taken control of a nuclear reactor, and... You can fill in the blanks. It's a pretty tried and true story line, and there will be no surprises. Well, except for the water snakes. Those were a surprise. The story doesn't really matter anyway; all I really need to know is that there are no mutants. It's just you and your guys against a whole lot of terrorists. You're armed with off-the-shelf weapons - no pulse rocket energy burst girlie weapons here! Just for the record, my two favorites were the FAMAS rifle with scope and the Mossburg 500 shotgun. What you miss with the FAMAS, you get with the Mossburg. What could be easier?
The graphics were similar to the Far Cry that I remembered, although the focus was more on the lighting and shadows in interior spaces than the great, vast outdoor feeling or Far Cry. That may have more to do with differences between the JupiterEX engine that Conspiracy Island uses and the CryEngine platform of Far Cry than anything. In any event, with Conspiracy Island the vast majority of time is spent in caves or old buildings, following caves, hallways, or the ventilation shafts. Yes, the ventilation shafts. If it's not mutants, it's ventilation shafts. The rendering of each type of environment was about average, although the caves were just borderline adequate. The lighting and shadows added a little ambience and there was a single instance of an enemy betraying his position with his shadow, but the overall experience felt very typical.
Because the gameplay was almost exclusively in interior spaces, Conspiracy Island plays in the self-guided tour style of "If you can open a door, open it. If you can flip a switch, flip it. If you aren't killing anything, you're going the wrong way." There are no health packs to deal with. If you get hurt, just hide for a few moments as you recover. Basically, you can't get lost, and you have to be pretty clumsy to get yourself killed. I went toe to toe with guys with machine guns and walked away. In fact, there were only two things that killed me: first, I walked into an electrical panel and got electrocuted. Second, I was trying to use the F key to open a door and hit the G key instead. Which, of course, dropped a grenade at my feet. I thus became the only person in the game to die by one of my grenades. The rest of them bounced harmlessly away from any enemies that I had thrown them at. My aim leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to grenades.
The enemy opponents were plentiful, but most of them weren't very smart. Every now and then they'd do interesting things like hide behind walls and hold their guns around the edge to shoot at me, but they never really put up much of a fight. They would run from one spot to the next and back again over and over. Well, until I'd camp my scope in one of the spots and get the one-shot kill right into his melon, anyway. Like I said before, my favorite gun was FAMAS with the scope. I could usually either wait for them to get bored and come out from cover, or I could try to shoot right through whatever they were hiding behind. That sometimes worked, sometimes not. Eventually they'd charge me and I'd switch to the Mossburg, the other one-shot kill. The other guns seemed weak by comparison, and there was one machine gun that was just broken. It would work fine from the hip, but if you used the zoom feature to bring up the scope and pulled the trigger, it would vibrate for a second before actually firing rounds. That was a bit disconcerting so I just stopped using that gun. With the combination of the FAMAS and Mossburg, I quickly and routinely worked by way through bushel after bushel of terrorists. I started to see the appeal of a mutant or two to mix things up, truth be told.
Fighting the terrorists was interesting on an intellectual level, though, in that they spoke Spanish when they'd shouted at each other, so the fighting parts were almost like the Rosetta Stone language course in speaking 'South American Terrorist.' I learned many useful and helpful phrases like "Go get him!" and "Are you ok?" and "No, you idiot, that French bastard shot me in the head!" Note that one of those is made up. You decide which. In coordinating with the other Commandos in my unit and our Captain, I also learned that 'Sergeant Boudet' roughly translates to "You go first, bullet bee-yatch!" Which was probably a good thing, in retrospect, because on the occasions when they did get out in front of me, they'd turn around and wait for me. I'd come running around a corner and the first thing I would see is two armed guys pointing weapons at me. You can guess how I responded to that! Lucky for them, they're central to the cut scenes and are therefore immortal.
The cut scenes reminded me of those people you work with that read verbatim from PowerPoint slides when giving presentations. I have never understood why those people assume the rest of us can't read for ourselves, and what other explanation could there be? That said, the voiceovers were pretty good and quite authentically military sounding. Keep the speakers turned down if your three year old child or 80 year old granny are nearby, though, as there are a handful of expletives. For authenticity's sake, I guess. They don't add much, and I remain unclear as to why they make their way into games like this.
The game is very short. There's not much of a story to tell, and they don't waste much time telling it. The nuclear situation was defused (get it?) and the terrorist had met justice in a little over two hours. I imagine that I could increase that play time some if I were to play through again at the hard setting rather than the medium one, but the experience wasn't compelling enough for me to want to do it again. Code of Honor 2 Conspiracy Island would have been an average game if it had been released contemporaneous to Far Cry. In the days of Call of Duty 4, a game like Conspiracy Island scores a C-.
Conspiracy Island would have been an average First-Person-Shooter a few years ago, but those days are passed. In today's environment, Conspiracy Island doesn't meet the standard.