Spec Ops: Ranger Elite Takes Aim

Spec Ops: Ranger Elite
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Militias, terrorists, and communist dictatorships are threatening the security of the free world. You, and your squad of army rangers, are all that stands between them and conquest. This is Spec Ops: Ranger Elite for the Playstation game console. Spec Ops: Ranger Elite is part of Take 2 Interactive’s $9.99 line of games.

In Ranger Elite, players control two rangers through four different stages, rescuing hostages, stealth attacks on enemy strongholds, disarming missile and bombs, and fighting scores of bad guys. The game starts off in Alaska where you must stop an extremist militia from blowing up the Alaskan pipeline. From there it’s to Afghanistan to battle terrorists, then to Egypt to thwart drug smugglers, and finally, the Indo-China border to perform a covert operation against the communists.

Ranger Elite looks and plays very much like Army Men 3D, except that you are controlling two rangers. At the beginning of each mission you pick two rangers out of your six-member squad, each member has talents suited for different missions. One ranger you have complete control over and you have limited control over the other ranger. You can switch which ranger you are completely controlling during play. The control you have over the second ranger is limited to four commands, which are: Follow Me, Hold Up, Move Up, and Fire em’ Up. Hitting L2 and another button simultaneously does all these commands.

There is a ton of buttons to remember. There are buttons for using scopes, weapons, grenades, inventory and maps. There are buttons to switch rangers, to sidestep, to change posture, to reload and to roll. These controls can be daunting at first, but with a little playing time can become quite natural.

The graphics of Ranger Elite are not as good as those in Army Men, but are good nonetheless. Even though the packaging of Ranger Elite boasts "chillingly realistic environments," I however, was very aware that it was unreal and not chilled at all. The trees reminded me of Lego trees, you know, kind of squared off, more X-shaped than round shaped. The people are a little blurry.

I thought the graphics were okay until, I read that marketing blurb on the case and became enraged by that outlandish claim. Chillingly realistic? Come on! The graphics are chillingly average at best. The opening sequence is all right, but the final, beat the game sequence is laughable, useless, and more importantly, unrewarding.

There are plenty of good things about this game. There is a large assortment of weapons and explosives to choose from. Most of the missions are pretty exciting.

But, there also are some odd things about Ranger Elite as well. When using a scope, you can kill a person with a shot to just about any part of their body. With the scope, ankle or wrist wounds are instantly fatal.

Sometimes too, the second ranger can pose problems. Let’s say that you tell the second ranger to "hold up," then using the first ranger you move up a road and cross a bridge and take out a couple of enemy guards. After the area is secure, you tell the second ranger to "move up." Nine times out of 10 the second ranger will run off of the cliff next to the bridge (instead of crossing the bridge to reach ranger one) and die.

Another problem can arise when you tell ranger two to "follow me." He will follow a couple of feet behind ranger one, but if an enemy soldier gets in front of ranger one, ranger two will shoot straight at ranger one trying to kill the enemy but in effect also killing ranger one with friendly fire. You can finish a mission with just one ranger, fortunately. These little problems with the second ranger can, for the most part, be avoided by playing the game a little differently.

Regardless, these problems don’t take away from the enjoyment of playing Ranger Elite. I only wish that it were a little longer. I give Spec Ops: Ranger Elite 4 out of 5 GiN gems. The missions are engaging and the fighting at times is intense. Plus, it’s a $10 game.

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