STAFF REVIEW of Silent Scope Complete (Xbox)
A helicopter flies overhead. The normally congested streets in the downtown business district are empty except for twenty plus police vehicles. While the S.W.A.T. captain sends orders over his walkie-talkie, the terrorist negotiator tries to work over the enemy on the phone. On the other side of the phone lies the enemy, who is totally unaware of your presence. Where are you exactly? Youre ducking behind an air duct on the roof of the building across the street from your target. Armed with the best sharp-shooter rifle made, you have only seconds after getting off the first shot to take out all the bad guys with in ear and eye shot before they lock onto you. Do you have the steady hands, reaction speed and nerves of steel it takes to be the top sharp-shooter in the world of Silent Scope Complete?
With this single disc, you get the complete Silent Scope experience (hence the title) including all three Silent Scope games previously released on the Playstation 2 and the arcade version, Silent Scope EX. In the first Silent Scope entry, you take on the role of a professional sniper who is brought in undercover by the government to take out the terrorist group that has kidnapped the President of the United States and his family. For the second outing, Silent Scope 2: Dark Silhouette, the terrorist group has set its sights on stealing a new gas missile by taking over a research lab. The government has sent in a strike team, but all contact has been lost, so a second strike unit is brought inyou. Here you take on the role one of two snipers who must act alone in order to stop the potential destruction of the free world and rescue the first strike team. While silence has been implied to all the missions, secrecy is another big issue for Silent Scope 3. This time a wealthy terrorist group has kidnapped a brilliant doctor who has the ability to clone missiles, which is only discovered after some of the cloned missiles have been found. The new team, headed up by Colonel Robert has been reduced to one man as result of the need to keep the public out of the loop for fear of causing a panic. And in case you hadnt guessed already, that one man is you. Finally, in EX, you take on a series of different assignments in order to become the best sharp-shooter in the game. All the Silent Scopes here include target practice areas so you can get used to the game and perfect your shot before stepping into the line of fire.
While you may be thinking what possible fun could come from porting a bunch of PS2, controller based shooting games over to the Xbox? How about the fact that for the first time the Silent Scope games are light gun compatible, the way they were supposed to be played. So for all those people who shelled out a bunch of money for a light gun just to play House of the Dead 3 will finally have a second game to use it with. But for those who dont have a light gun, you have three options. First, you can do the obvious move and purchase a light gun. Second, you can use the controller, similar to the way you would play these games on the PS2. But the best option is the third one, which is what I chose. The third is to go out and pick up the new light rifle, specially designed for Silent Scope Complete.
(Warning: I am about to go off topic and talk about my new favorite toy, the light rifle)
If you have ever seen the Silent Scope game in an arcade, then you know what the light rifle basically looks like. Much like a real sharp-shooter (or sniper) rifle, the gun comes in multiple pieces and must be assembled in order to use (really only two pieces are necessary, but it just looks better, and is kind of fun, if you put it completely together). Once assembled, you can go into the options area of any of the Silent Scope games and set up the gun for play, which includes the incredibly cool feature of going to zoom mode only when you get behind the scope. This really is the only way to play the Silent Scope games. The only draw back is the idea of paying fifty dollars for light gun designed for a single game. But the good news is that you can use the main gun piece as a shotgun (equipped with working pump and recoil action) for House of the Dead 3. If that isnt enough, just remember that it is cheaper then getting into the Steel Battalion series (near two hundred dollars for controls that work for only two games just seems real insane to me).
(Back to Silent Scope Complete review already in progress)
In order to give Silent Scope Complete a fair review, I decided to split the play: half using the light rifle and the other using the controller S. This first section will be based on playing with the controller. Using the controller had a couple of perks to it that the rifle did not. First, reloading is easier to deal with because you dont have to fumble the buttons on the side of the rifle in order to find the appropriate button (otherwise you have to wait to run out of bullets in order to auto-reload, which always seems to happen at the worst possible time). The second is just the familiarity that you wont have with the riffle until after a few hours of play. Other then those two perks, the controller is super limited. Movement with the analogue stick is just not smooth, especially trying to get a good aim on such small targets. Another big issue involves a choice you have to make, and that is how will you locate your targets. The first way is to remain in normal view and move towards the green lit targets, then hit the zoom button, and then take your shot. The second way is to stay in zoom and find your way to the target and take your shot. If you choose the first route, then you have to hit an extra button, and possibly have to readjust, using the analogue stick, to get the best shot off. But if you choose to remain in zoom you have to deal with finding the target with an incredibly sensitive analogue stick, which means tons of overshooting your mark. Basically, neither option is that great.
Lock and load kids, because now we move on to the light rifle. The biggest reason why this method of control is better is becauseits just like dealing with a real rifle. If you want to aim at something, you move the barrel of the rifle towards it. Nice and smooth, or rough and jerky, you can get to your target much faster then you could if using the analogue stick. Second, you dont have to hit an additional button to zoom in on a target if you dont want to. As stated earlier, you can setup the rifle to zoom once you put your face behind the scope which, coupled with the recoil action, gets you as close to the real deal as possible without using a real rifle. About the only two drawbacks you using the rifle are a) using the mini analogue stick to do menu selects can get annoying, and b) when asked to hit a particular button, youll have to stop and search for the button until you get used to the layout of the rifle. Definitely, there is much more fun to be had playing with the rifle.
The game play itself (regardless of whether youre using the rifle or controller) is fun and challenging. It is all about learning not only to be an accurate shot, but a fast and accurate shot at the same time. A typical situation will have you targeting four or five enemies on a rooftop. Once you take out the first one, you will have only seconds to take out the others before they realize your location and begin to return fire. In hand with accuracy and speed, youll need a steady hand. Another situation will have you acting as escort to the President and there will be three or four terrorists on motorcycles with guns in hot pursuit. Again, youll only have seconds to take out all the targets before they get to the President, but these guys will not be standing still. The best advice I can give is dont get frustrated easily and give up. Just keep trying again until you get used to the targeting system and you will get it down. But dont get too cocky. As you progress onward to the second and third game things will only get more and more difficult. Those four soldiers on the roof will turn into eight terrorists with hostages that youll have to shot at through one foot by one foot windows (at one point, the windows are behind towering flames). Remember the bad guys on motorcycles? They turn into a couple of jeep loads of terrorists and you have to take out all four to take out the jeep in its entirety. In the end you need to get real accurate and very quick on the draw to get through all four games.
Graphically, things look a bit rough. The graphics have gone unchanged from their original format. Explosions and flames look somewhat digitized, while distant objects look out of focus. On the flip side of that coin, when you are zoomed in on the terrorists, they come in clear as day. The time the game really shines is during the EX game when you have to take out a caravan of jeeps tearing through the desert. The trails of dust and the reaction movement from driving on an uneven surface look amazing (if you have the time to notice such things). So overall, the graphics are a bit weak, but this game isnt about graphics. Its all about the game play. Also, if you choose to use the light rifle, youll have to jack up the brightness level, which at times makes things look kind of strange, but once you get into the game, youll barely even notice.
The sound issue is a split decision. Sound effect wise, Silent Scope Complete is amazing. Again, if you have surround sound, the bullets really do sound like theyre coming from hundreds of yards away. But the stand out here comes from EX. The arcade designed sound comes out big even through standard television speakers. The best area to judge is the airplane hijacking shootout scene. The insanity of the situation is only escalated by sounds of enemy fire, the thunderous blasts from your rifle and explosions as tanks near and around the plane send flames everywhere. So the sound effects rock, but the soundtrack, on the other hand, does not. The music is, at times, very cheesy and annoying. It seems like they took the most generic, clich suspense music they could find and stuck it into the most intense fire fights in the game, which just got annoying after a while. My solution was to blast Black Flags Damaged album through my stereo system during boss fights so the music would drowned out the soundtrack.
To sum up, Silent Scope Complete, when played with the light rifle, is a great way to bring the arcade experience to the Xbox. While the game might feel repetitive at times, the increases in difficulty are going to challenge your abilities as a sharp-shooter. It is all about speed, accuracy and a steady hand in order to take down the terrorist threat (which ever one youre working on at the time). But the real question comes down to is this: is it worth spending fifty dollars on a gun on top of the cost of the game itself? If you want the best all round arcade shooting experience available today on any video game console, then it is definitely worth it. Besides, you cant beat getting four games for the price of one. Good luck and happy hunting.
Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.2 / 10
Visuals: 7.2 / 10
Sound: 7.8 / 10