Isn't Christmas great? Not only is it the time of the year for friends and family but it's also the time when every game developer wants to show off the games that they have been diligently working on all year long. Project I.G.I. (AKA I'm Going In) is definitely one of those titles worth showing off. It's not without its flaws but there is enough fun in this one to satisfy any fan of realistic shooters that are interested in doing a little thinking before acting.
The detail in Project I.G.I. is very well done. Not only are the visuals pretty to look at but the engine, which is a flight simulator engine I might add, is capable of plopping the player down into a massive sized level similar to the Delta Force games but with one major difference, great texture detail. I'm not talking about a small room here, I mean an entire base including an airport and airplane hangar. I was amazed at the size of each area. You really see it best when you are on top of a hill or mountain, the landscapes seems to go on for miles and miles. Of course, you can't have huge areas without some choppiness, it isn't too bad but this game is hard on the CPU and it shows in some of the bigger levels. My only real complaint about the graphics are the textures inside rooms. They're pretty dull and boring looking, and in fact there are only a few that are used over and over and you'll get that deja vu feeling when you enter a room that is located in a seemingly different building. No, I'm not expecting pink walls with purple polka dots but a little variety here would've been nice.
This is another game that is really a mix between a few genres. It isn't a "run in with guns blazing" title like Soldier of Fortune, nor a strategy shooter like Rogue Spear, and not even a stealth game similar to Thief or Hitman. Project I.G.I. takes bits and pieces of each of those games and lands itself in a nice comfortable little niche where it ends up feeling a lot like Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64. Goldeneye has always been my long time favorite shooter and I'll tell you that Project I.G.I. is pretty close to topping it, the AI is the only thing that does it in and I'll get to that in a moment. Missions are great in this game. They start out short and get progressively more diffcult and longer as you go. As you play through the single player missions you'll start having to complete more and more objectives which can end up taking you a good hour or more to complete the level and as far as difficulty goes this one is quite challenging. You'll think it's all pretty easy until you get to the later missions and find that you have to do a lot more thinking than acting. Realism is the name of this game, so usually one or two well placed shots can kill, so you certainly can't rush into a room full of guards and expect to live through the cross-fire.
You can't have a realistic environment without some realistic weapons and Project I.G.I delivers a great range of well balanced weapons like the AK47, Draganov sniper rifle, MP5, and LAW 80, which all look and sound very realistic. You also get to carry along a set of binoculars with you, which are quite different than what you'll see in other games. Once equipped, you can zoom in and out the same as you can with the sniper rifle but what makes these very useful is that all enemies are highlighted with red squares around them. I thought this was a great idea especially if you are up in a tower somewhere and ready to pick some guards off with a sniper rifle. You can use the binoculars to get an idea of where the guards are stationed. I also found them great for surveying an area for guards before running in. The next little thing that I really love is the map. You are shown an overhead map view of the area that tracks movement via satellite hookup. I'd have to say that this is the most useful map I've seen in any FPS for a long time. Not only is it easy to get an idea where everything is located (including cameras) but it is in no way obtrusive or just plain annoying.
There is one thing that I must mention, and this is one that will frustrate more than a few gamers, you can't save your game during a mission. At the beginning of the game it isn't too bad when the levels are relatively short, but later it can get mighty frustrating without that save button. But there is a bright side... by not having a save feature you will be a better player for it and you will truly think about every action because you'll know that one wrong move could mean restarting. Once you finally do make it through a mission you'll feel a much better sense that you accomplished something without having to always rely on that save game safety net to see you through. I can't believe I'm saying that because at first I really hated the fact that there was no in-game save option but after playing through a few missions I started into thinking that maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all.
I said I was going to get to the AI and I think it's about time I did. The AI in this game is the only thing that knocks it back from perfection and the best thing is that a lot of the issues I'm about to mention will most likely be corrected in the first few patches. The funny thing about the AI is that they aren't always totally stupid, at times they act very intelligent, like they know what they are doing, but it seems that most of the time they are only aware as to whats going on 2 feet in front of them. The first very noticable AI problem is the sniping. You can pick up a sniper rifle and pick everyone off without even as much as a reaction, unless of course the death of a guard is caught in the line of a camera. It amazes me how you can blow away a guard and the guy right next to him somehow doesn't notice his buddy lying in a pool of his own blood. If you fire the sniper rifle right above a guards head he will immediately jump to the ground on his stomach, this is very intelligent. This ingelligence factor dissipates very quickly when you see the same guard stand up again and patrol like nothing even happened. Guards also seem to have short term memories, especially the ones with the sniper rifles. If they see you and start shooting you can run and hide for a few minutes and they'll go back to what they were doing and forget they even saw an intruder on the base.
It seems the AI has two ways of attacking you, either run at you firing or stand still waiting for you to come around the corner so they can shoot. Even when they are close to cover like a wall, they'll continue to stand in one place waiting to get shot at. If a guard is carrying a shotgun and you are firing at him from a distance there are times when they will turn and run to the nearest alarm knowing that they aren't going to kill you with a shotgun from such a great distance. Again, this shows a little intelligence, which will make you wonder why the overall AI isn't quite as smart. After you get used to the fact that the guards are pretty stupid you'll settle in and start having fun with the game. Despite the complete idocy of the AI most of the time, the game is still quite challenging and is a pure blast to play.
I gotta say that I like Project I.G.I a lot. There are a few small annoyances like the fact that you can't save during missions and the AI, which is pretty useless most of the time. Multiplayer would've been a welcome addition to this one as well but despite these issues I found myself having lots of fun with it. It's the only FPS I've played yet on the PC that really does feel like Goldeneye with it's realistic environments and objective based missions. There's certainly enough challenge in this one to keep you busy for quite some time and I would recommend it to anyone who is into the realitic shooter titles like Rogue Spear or Delta Force Land Warrior.
The good points:
huge levels with some amazing detail, lots of realitic weapons to use, one of the most useful maps in an FPS in a long time, going through a level knowing that a few shots can kill really gets your adrenalin pumping, just plain fun!
The bad points:
no multiplayer support, some textures inside buildings are pretty bland and boring looking, unable to save during missions, bad AI 95% of the time
Video Gamer Guy