Review: Signal Ops
Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation has just recently released Signal Ops, a retro multi-FPS stealth game that allows you to do all kinds of neat super-spy stuff like assassinate targets, steal information, plant incriminating evidence, and sabotage enemy hardware all from the safety of a multi-monitored control room. What Space Bullet has done here is implemented a rare way to interact with some familiar gameplay mechanics that we all have seen in a few prominent game genres and set the whole experience in a charming little world that doesn’t take itself too seriously. On uproxx.com the game was described as “James Bond meets Deus Ex” and I could not agree more with this label mash-up. After a few delays to polish up their product, Signal Ops was officially released on April 2nd 2013 at GoG.com.
My favorite aspect of this game was the art direction. It was truly a painter’s delight if you take the time to soak in the details. While not anywhere near the more high-end graphics of some games that utilize the very popular first-person perspective, the ambience and atmosphere were definitely augmented by the look of this game. Environmental lighting looked cool and really worked to showcase some of the more detailed and open areas of the game. For a game that incorporates so much stealth in the gameplay, I feel that there could have been more overall contrast between dark and lit areas. It was somewhat difficult at times to differentiate where my agents were hidden and where they were exposed but that is my only complaint about the visual side of this title. The sound design was functional but nothing spectacular. There were moments when I thought the ambient mechanical sounds were a bit loud and obtrusive; however, that did not happen often.
The writing of this game was superb and there was a dark sense of humor about the whole experience that fit perfectly in the game. There were mock-motivation posters around some of the interiors that cracked me up, a sign that states “Basic Training Tutorial….. Do it or Die!” is a perfect example of what I mean. Dialogue was also very quirky with serious activities and consequences being discussed in a snarky, comical tone. After stumbling through one of tutorials, the quest-giver says “Ahh… the uncomfortable sting of failure…… I am not surprised.” This writing style definitely added to the experience and I caught myself laughing out loud at some individual lines.
The espionage-focused gameplay had some flaws in my opinion. I liked the multi-perspective views that allowed you to see each mission from the view of all four agents; however, the screens were sometimes so small that it made missions harder than they should have been. Combine this with the difficulty of telling the difference between light and shadow areas, and some missions seemed downright impossible. Strategically moving multiple units opens up a lot of fun gameplay options but I found that the importance of the radio location ended up overshadowing everything else going on. You have to closely manage both the radio and a power source to keep it juiced up and in many of the missions, this was the biggest challenge. I like the realism this part brings to the game, but it quickly became a repetitive game of “where-to-put-my-radio-so-I-can-see” over and over again. Lastly, some clunky keyboard controls and a lackluster tutorial that had me more confused than enlightened dampened my initial excitement for the title. Right now, Signal Ops is available on GoG.com for $14.99 and I would rather see it for $9.99 but there is good quality to be found here if you spring for it.
Title: Signal Ops
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Available at GoG.com