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Raven Squad is a PC game that was ported over from the Xbox 360, and it really shows. This type of game should have just stayed with the console, because PC gamers will expect a lot more than what it offers. It’s supposed to a combination tactical RTS/FPS that lets you switch between overhead and first person views, but it just isn’t nearly as cool as you’d think it would be. I didn’t think it was a bad game, but it could have been so much better.
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The idea of combining RTS (real time strategy) and FPS (first person shooter) gameplay sounds like a really good idea. You get an overhead map of the area where you can guide your squad along, and if the combat gets too heavy you can jump into first person mode to give you better control over your soldiers. The problem with this game is that you get very light versions of both type gameplay. The RTS elements are really bland and the FPS parts are very limiting. You get a little of both gameplay elements, but not enough of either to make it stand out.
When playing in FPS mode, you can forget about exploration or tactics. You have to walk down single paths and you can’t jump over anything or even walk through bushes. Shrubberies stop your forward progress. You can’t climb anything or search higher ground for cover, so you just walk down predetermined paths and shoot at the bad guys who are inevitably found around each corner. You are so limited to what you can do in the game that it winds up being a shooting gallery.
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Raven Squad is a console port, and you can really tell. The developers didn’t even bother to update the menu graphics, so instead of having regular OK and Cancel buttons, you get the colored buttons meant to correspond with an Xbox 360 controller. You occasionally find this sort of thing in other console ports, and it’s usually a sign that not much effort was put into creating a PC version of the game.
The graphics in Raven Squad aren’t all that bad, at least not by 2005 standards. Compared to the Call of Duty games or Crysis, this one looks horrible. The colors appear to be very washed out, and even with the lackluster amount of detail, it still runs choppy. I’m using an Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 video card, and I can max out all the settings on Crysis and it still runs smooth, but this game is choppy. The Xbox 360 can’t produce the same quality graphics that a PC with a good video card can, and I felt like I was looking at graphics made for an Xbox 360, and not the kind that take full advantage of that console.
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Sound effects are pretty decent with the machine gun fire and explosions, but that’s not hard to get right. A lot of comments have been made about the voice acting in this game, namely with the phonetic pronunciation of some words. I found it all a bit comical, really. The main narrator in the game sounds a lot like Michael Pare, who is a B-movie actor. Given that this is just a goofy military action video game, I don’t expect too much from the voice acting.
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The worst thing about Raven Squad is that it never lives up to its potential. It’s a really short and easy game that a casual gamer might jump into and enjoy, but most PC gamers are going to run through this one in a weekend and not look back. Expect it to hit the bargain bin real soon. I give it a very average three stars.
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Processor: Pentium IV 3Ghz / Athlon XP 3000+
Memory: 512MB RAM
Graphics: DirectX9 compatible graphics card with Pixel Shader 2.0 support and 128 MB RAM (ATI Radeon 9500 or better, NVidia GeForce 6 series or better)
Hard Drive: 2.1 GB available
Sound: DirectX compatible sound system