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    Shadow Force: Razor Unit
    Author: Drew Lanclos   Publisher: Activision Value   Developer: FUN Labs
    Date Posted: August 9th, 2002
    SLRating: SLRating: 6.5/10
    Bottom Line: The single player missions are fun for a while, but in all, the game just feels erratically put together.

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    Gameplay

    Normally I'd begin with a background section on the game, but the fact of the matter is that there is little background to give. Being a valueware title, Activision shipped the game with little more than an insert giving installation instructions for the software. The game itself offers no background information on who your character is or what the Razor Unit is. Presumably, we can assume the oft-repeated line that Razor Unit is an elite highly-trained group of special operations soldiers that are tasked with getting things done when they otherwise couldn't be.

    The primary focus of Razor Unit's gameplay is on a series of operations conducted in the Middle East. The game itself spins a nifty yarn from mission to mission about the war escalating all around you as you try to accomplish your objectives. There's even some twists to the story, if you'd call them that…but we won't spoil the surprise.

    Storytelling is brief, but conducted throughout the entire game. Between-mission briefings fill you in on the details you need to know for each individual mission, as well as giving closure to prior parts of the story. Radio transmissions and a few conversations during the game are primarily what advance the plot, as you disable enemy targets and make checkpoints through the game. To be honest, there's not a lot of meat in the plot. It's just there to provide a guideline for the goals you must accomplish through the game.

    Razor Unit can be played as either a first-person or a third-person shooter, and it works effectively either way. In third-person view mode, you have a visible crosshair placed in front of you relative to where you'd see it in first-person mode. Otherwise, there aren't a lot of jumping puzzles in Razor Unit, or any other similar dexterity tests which would mandate the use of third-person view. Therefore, it's largely your preference which mode you want to play in.

    The most recognizable characteristic of Razor Unit is its attention to detail with regard to military weaponry. Razor Unit comes with a host of over 15 small arms and munitions armaments, all modeled after their real-world counterparts. The weapons have accurate report and kickback sounds, as well as stopping force, long-distance accuracy, and clip size.

    The problem with this attention to detail is two-fold. For one, Razor Unit is likely to draw a lot of FPS players and action fans, who are most likely going to be more concerned with how much power they can wield at once, and with little regard for stealth and guerilla tactics. This means that they won't pay attention to the weapons, so much as they'll see "little gun", "little gun", "big gun", "big gun". On the other hand, the enemy AI doesn't seem to pay much attention to noises as they do to a proximity alert or an attempted (and presumably failed) shot. I've gunned down troops from 500 feet away that just stood there making their rounds while I popped them off one by one.

    Ultimately, this is a game that should be experienced on Hard difficulty only, as it's the only one that will really give you a sense of urgency or determination. Hard difficulty introduces the possibility of one-shot kills on the part of your enemy (which isn't unlike how it works in the real world, of course), forcing you to work to keep your stealth and wits about you. And, of course, your patience. You will be doing a lot of reloading.

    On the other hand, you don't need to play on Hard to test your patience. Just play the game until you get to the mission where you're rescuing the Ranger from the terrorist compound, and you'll quickly find an exercise in futility awaiting you. The terrorist compound is confusingly laid out and, like several missions you play in Razor Unit, you have no map. After you mess around inside the compound long enough to accomplish the two objectives you'll have there, you're to leave through the main gates and move on to the next mission. Good luck getting there, though. I spent an hour on the map running around all over the place trying to find a place to exit, but to no avail.

    And his uncovers the game's worst problem. It's level design is just all over the place. Some maps are pretty decent, such as the catacombs early on in the game, and the refinery mission, but others, such as the terrorist compound and the outpost, are confusingly non-linear and unmapped, making the mission annoying as opposed to challenging. I had the maps mostly clear of tangos early on, but spent quite a bit of time getting turned around on myself or getting lost.

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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction
    2. Gameplay
    3. Graphics/Sound
    4. Multiplayer
    5. Conclusion/Pros & Cons
    6. Rating Breakdown

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