Viva La France
Budget Shooter Offers Foreign Legion Frills
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Code of Honor 2: Conspiracy Island has a lot of things going for it, and quite a few things that aren't. This is one of City Interactive's first forays into the US market and as such, is not too bad. Given the $20 price tag, you can probably forgive a lot of its little flaws. The game features a good story that emphasizes the French Foreign Legion, which is pretty cool since I don't think they have had a major entertainment role outside of a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie.
You play Claude Boulet, a commando in the French Foreign Legion, which according to the game is actually an elite force. In movies they seem to be comprised of criminals forced to work off their time in the legion, but here they are an elite unit much like Delta Force or Seal Team Six. The cool thing is that the bad guys all yell and scream in a foreign language, but since your team member can understand what they are saying, you get the translation in subtitles. Mostly they say stuff like "I hear something!" or "I found him!" or even a curse or two, but it's a cool effect.
The plot is that the French own an island off the coast of South America called Ile Royale or Royal Island, that has been taken over by terrorists lead by the evil Mendoza (isn't he the bad guy from The Simpsons that action hero McBane is always chasing). Anyhow, the island used to be a 19th century penal colony. In this game the island holds an experimental research facility and a nuclear reactor. The terrorists take over the facility and kill the staff and threaten to blow up the reactor if a ransom is not paid.
So Boulet and his elite team are sent in to kill the terrorists. When you get there your team splits up to complete different objectives like grabbing sensitive documents or securing nuclear materials. It pretty much gives an excuse for you to split off from your party and make this a solo adventure.
Okay, for the good parts of the game"
There is a variety of cool weapons to choose from and they all have different characteristics. Perhaps the coolest is the FAMAS rifle which is the standard loadout for your group. This is a pretty great bullpup type assault rifle that can be used in a variety of ways. Since you are able to carry four different weapons, my suggestion is to convert your FAMAS into a sniper rifle. It's by far the deadliest weapon in the game and the only one to give reliable one shot kills when looking through the scope and hitting someone's head. You are prompted to use it in certain places during the game, but I used it about eighty percent of the time. Given that other weapons seem a bit underpowered, this one is going to be your heavy hitter. And who does not like a game with a good sniper rifle?
Other guns in the game include the ERYX anti-aircraft gun, PAMAS-G1 (also known as the Beretta 92), and the H&K MP5 submachine gun which is silenced. The enemies use FN FAL rifles, Bizon PP-19 submachine guns, H&K G11s, and Mossberg 500 shotguns. You can pick up the enemy weapons if you want and I would recommend the G11 and especially the shotgun. The shotgun is a great weapon for close quarters and can get one shot kills more than half the time.
One of the coolest aspects of the game is that the environmental physics are pretty good. For example, bullets will travel through wooden structures. It's really fun when the bad guys decide to hide behind a wooden table or other flimsy structure. You simply fire into it and can hear them grunting from the other side. In this aspect, the game is on par with some of the top shooters out there.
But all is not wine and roses on the Royal Island, so it's time for the bad aspects. The game has a particularly bad swimming interface. You will be walking though a cave in about a foot of water and then all of a sudden you will be underwater swimming (in that same one foot of water, somehow). And you can't get back to the surface by looking up and pushing the move forward key. Instead you have to "walk" along the bottom till you get to the magic spot where you surface. Vampire: Bloodlines had a better swimming interface and obviously a game about vampires was not focused on swimming. There is not too much swimming here either, though twice you are directed to do so.
Some of the guns in the game are also a little weak. For some reason you can expend an entire clip from the MP5 into a bad guy and they will topple over like they have a stomach ache and then get back up and keep fighting. I thought I had accidentally picked up one of those realistic BB guns that are so popular these days.
Finally, the multiplayer is very unimaginative with tiny levels, no real guns or powerups or even strategic areas to hold, and at least when I tried to host or play games - not many players online.
In the mid range of aspects which are not really good or terribly bad are the graphics and the enemy AI. The game looks pretty good, but a lot of the levels, especially in the cave system under the island, look the same and seem to be copies of one another with perhaps a new twist or turn added in here and there.
The enemy AI is pretty good at flanking and deadly with throwing grenades, but they detect you even when you are hiding in shadows and standing completely still sometimes. Other times, you can walk right up to them. The game seems to encourage sneaking with a silenced weapon as part of your equipment. But it gives you no indication how well you are sneaking around and the seemingly random reactions of the enemy only makes things more confusing.
The AI is really bad when you are running with your teammates. Your own guys are complete morons, running right into ambushes and standing between you and the bad guys in the open during firefights. Thankfully for them, they are invincible and can even take a grenade landing right at their feet with just the minor inconvenience of being knocked out for a few seconds. It got so bad that I would throw my own grenades at their feet just to get them to lie down and get out of my way for a few seconds. So much for realism.
All in all, I did have a very good time on the Royal Island. I don't know what the conspiracy part of the island was. It seemed pretty straight forward to me, going in, killing terrorists and getting the nuclear materials out safely.
If you play the game straight though, you are talking about eight hours of fighting, which is pretty good in a $20 title. Like I said before, at that price you can forgive a few flaws, especially when you shoot your Mossberg 500 though a table and take out two terrorists on the other side. So for a little French-style combat, give Code of Honor 2 a try. Viva la Legion!
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : email@example.com.