WWII GI is no breakthrough

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WWII GI is a game that I don’t believe ever achieved its full potential. As I played it I must say I enjoyed the experience, but several logic flaws, game errors and overall graphics that are abysmal at best left me with a sense of emptiness.

It’s like when you wait for years to see a movie, only to find out that poor acting or bad special effects have ruined the experience. You can’t help but smile, but at the same time you really wish it could have been more.

WWII GI attempts to recreate the experience of an actual combat soldier hitting the beaches on D-Day. In this, the game shines. It is this opening scene of the game that give it as high a rating as it got. Take away the D-Day invasion, and WWII GI barely has a leg to stand on.

The D-Day invasion is very realistic. The first several times you play the game, you are going to die, even on the easiest setting. As soon as you step off your Higgins Boat, the Germans up in their concrete bunkers are going to rake you with machine gun fire. Mortar rounds randomly pelt the beach, and there is no strategy in avoiding them other than being lucky. The game does a good job at showing the horrors of war, with men all around you getting cut down or blown to pieces, leaving you with no option other than pressing forward.

Did I mention the mines? If by some miracle you make it up to the base of the cliff, you will hit a string of mines that are very difficult to see. And the defenders won’t stop firing to let you clear a path. So you end up dying a lot.

Even if you make it through the mines, there are still plenty of unhurt defenders waiting to repulse your attack. If you are lucky, you can get in behind the Germans and take out their machine gunners from behind. Hey, this is war. Don’t feel bad about shooting someone in the back. If they turn around, you are going to be the dead one.

WWII GI accurately recreates the D-Day invasion and this is a truly noble cause. I think more children would respect war if they could experience a little taste of what it is really like.

Unfortunately, following the opening scene, the game pretty much degrades into a typical ”one man verses the world” type of theme. And the game is just not good enough of a shooter to stand on its own without a grand historical context.

The graphics are my biggest complaint. This is the worst graphics I have ever seen in a shooter. I think the designers used a 256-color palette, but it looks more like 16 colors. There is a huge overuse of orange and brown, and everything looks very blocky. In one scene a soldier was shooting at me from behind a broken steam pipe. The steam was not transparent and I could not even see muzzle flashes. I resorted to spraying an entire clip into the steam, which looked like a moving gray wall. The only way I knew the man on the other side was dead was that he stopped firing.

Also, the AI is, well, very stupid. There is no other way to describe it. This even harms the grand opening scene to some extent. The ”friendly” American soldiers seem to be programmed to move two steps, take a few shots, then move two steps and take a few more shots, continuing this pattern till they are killed.

And, they don’t look at what they are shooting at, and will cap you if you are standing in front of them. In more than one instance I was trying to be a hero, sneaking around the front of a German bunker so I could chuck some grenades inside, only to be shot full of holes by my own people.

In another instance one of the Americans made it to the top of the cliff wall, and just stood there blowing off rounds into the concrete, unable to break his obviously preprogrammed logic of walking and firing, even when faced with a wall that was twice as high as he was. I watched him do this for ten minutes. Ironically, all he had to do was turn a few degrees to the left and he could have shot up a whole platoon of defenders from their blind side.

But God forbid one of my own army buddies would decide to help me. The American Army soldiers in this game are as stupid as armed sheep. I got so angry at one point I ran around shooting my own people, and they never knew the difference. War might be hell, but trust me, it’s a lot worse when you are fighting it alongside of stupid people.

The enemy AI is not much better. They at least will shoot at you. But since the graphics are so poor, this means you can’t accurately return fire in most cases. The box says one of the features of the game is that you get to march down ”sniper infested country roads” but really, anyone with a pistol who just happens to be standing behind a bush or any other terrain feature is just as deadly. They can kill you, and you won’t know where they are.

Another problem I have with the game is the weapons. My biggest complaint is with the sniper rifle that you find later in the game. I love sniper rifles in most shooters and the game box brags that weapons have been painstakingly recreated. Well, I might want to point out to the designers that most sniper rifles come with scopes.

That’s right, the sniper rifle in WWII GI does not have a scope! Sure, it kills in one shot, but you have to be within ten feet of your opponent. Forget about hunkering down in a defendable spot and picking off your enemy. You won’t be able to see them unless they come over to shake hands.

A more minor problem is that grenades seem very weak. I chucked three grenades into a tiny bunker to take out a machine gunner. All three exploded and the man inside was fine. At the very least he should have taken some damage.

Also, game errors were prevalent. Several times the game crashed between levels for no apparent reason, forcing me to save often.

The one bright spot other than the opening scene is that the sound in the game is excellent. In fact, it was about the best feature. If you turn your speakers up, it really sounds like a battlefield. Also, the voice acting was top notch. When you meet a friendly GI who gives you orders or advice, it sounds pretty realistic. Just don’t look behind them, or you will realize that they are two dimensional.

Multiplayer games ran smoothly, but considering the limited graphics, this was not too much of a surprise. At least in multiplayer everyone is on a level playing field, with the same limitations.

So WWII GI is a truly mixed bag. The graphics are not even as good as the classic Castle Wolfenstein 3D, but the opening D-Day scene and good sound help bring it up a few points. Also, those who can’t play Half-Life or Unreal because of slow connections or low-end computers might find WWII GI an adequate substitute till a new computer can be purchased. This game however gets a measly 2 GiN Gems out of five, because anyone who plays shooters is going to expect a lot more.

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