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Beyond The Law: The Third Wave Review for PC
Posted on Sunday, June 20, 2004 @ 08:53:03 am E.S.T

Squad-based strategy has seen some amazing titles, but like every genre it has a handful bad apples that youíre better off steering clear of. Beyond The Law: The Third Wave, to many, will be one of those games. However, to simply blow off The Third Wave would be slightly drastic. Simply put, itís the lovable goof of squad-based strategy games; While the game is sometimes fun to play, the feeling doesnít last long. After just a few levels, the shallow gameplay makes its presence painstakingly obvious, and the gameís trite nature kicks in.

The Third Wave presents a story of a world teetering on the edge of disaster, but not by any usual means. Nuclear arms are falling into the wrong hands, but not those of an enemy nation or terrorist network, instead they found their way to the Mob. Youíll take control of a group of freelancing paramilitary specialists across 20 levels in an effort to stop the Mob from taking over the capital of the United States.

Of the 20 short levels in The Third Wave, youíll cover four major areas. These four areas vary from a cargo ship to an abandoned hotel. Each area contains about 5 levels, before moving on to the next area. After you complete each area youíll be given the opportunity to change up your specialists and replace any who lost their lives in the previous campaign.

There are several types of specialists, ranging from Tacticians to Snipers, each with their own unique stats. While the diversity between classes is perhaps one of the strongest points in the game, the items those classes carry are rather disappointing. Each man comes with certain weapons, often carrying nothing more than a knife or pistol. These items come bound to each character, youíre unable to customize any one manís inventory. Disappointingly, items and weapons in the game really could have used more variety. Weapons consist of mostly knives and pistols, while the more costly specialists may carry an additional submachine gun or sniper rifle. However, there are no specialty items at all. No keys (which would be nice, since it takes quite a while to pick certain locks), no grenades, nothing. This little feature, if added, could have done wonders to help The Third Waveís rather shallow gameplay, and added to what fun it does provide.

The gameplay itself is really quite simple. Youíre to complete certain objectives by obtaining something, flipping a switch or even assassinating an enemy. To achieve this you have to choose the best paths to take and the best way to advance past personnel. Enemy personnel have a field of vision that can be checked at any time; their vision is quite limited, which is very fitting to the gameplay. For example, even sniper rifles have a relatively short range, often making it seem that from such a range your men should be carrying shotguns instead. Once youíve eliminated an enemy you can either run past them and risk having the body found or you can give your men the order to hide it, which entails them placing a green tarp over the body, every time you choose to hide a body it will take your men about 10 seconds to cover it and get on with the mission. In an interesting turn of events, Enemies are clueless to the fact that the mysterious green tarps are actually covering the bodies of their fallen comrades. While the gameplay certainly isnít the most complex, there are still moments where it can be a bit fun. Disappointingly, these moments are not as bountiful as I would have liked them to be.

The Third Wave has its ups and downs when it comes to graphics. The locked 800 x 600 resolution may be a disappointment to many players with larger monitors, but the environments actually have a fair amount of detail to them. Thatís about as good as it gets, really. Character models just arenít very pleasing, and most of them look quite generic. The same enemy character models are seen numerous times within short proximity to one another, and none of the models, friendly or enemy, received a sufficient amount of detail. Really, it looks as though the characters and the environment are from two different eras in gaming. With just a tad more detail to the characters, The Third Wave could have been much more appealing to the eyes, although this is not necessarily its worst point.

Simply put, audio in The Third Wave is just not up to todayís expectations on any level. Characters repeat the same generic phrases over and over, while the clunky sounds of combat chug along in the background. Sound effects sound rather weak, gunfire just doesnít seem to sound right and the environments just donít sound like theyíre for real. Some voiceovers are actually pretty cool, but after you hear them repeated too many times they lose their effect.

This simplistic gameplay doesnít help to offer any substantial replay value. With no multiplayer and few gameplay options, one run through The Third Wave should be enough for most any gamer. Had some form of online multiplayer been added to The Third Wave it might have been quite fun to tackle the Mob with friends, sadly that feature is absent.

With so many great squad-based shooters out there itís a wonder why anyone would choose to play The Third Wave, other than the fact that it is a budget title. And while the game does have itís occasional moment, it just doesnít have enough depth to keep players interested for very long. If youíre looking for a decent budget title or consider yourself to be a hardcore fan of squad-based shooters, you may want to give The Third Wave a try. Otherwise, though, you may want to stay clear of this one.

Review By: Kent Mackowiak - 1208 Reads

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