Saving cash to save
Another element to consider when spending before a mission is your savings for…saving. Perhaps the designers thought they were being clever when they took away the “save anywhere” feature standard in most FPS’s, and replaced it with another that depended on your money. Conservatively placed throughout each level are save terminals that allow you to backup your progress for a whopping $400. Console gamers may find this enjoyable, but most PC players may end up pulling their hair out in frustration as they try to decide between the save or ammo and armor available at other terminals. With the save penalty price being so high, you will have to replay long portions of the game to get back to where you have to make the nerve-wracking decision again.
In addition to figuring out how much to spend on saves, weapons, and armor before a level, you must select which end boss you will confront. Each of the over-the-top characters will have different armor, weapons, and skills that are commensurate with the purse you could win if you defeat them. It is one of the game’s better innovations and forces you to take into account your current financial situation and the possible difficulty of the upcoming mission. You will also need to evaluate your own current and future skill at the game. BOS does do a great job of forcing you to better your playing. Will you have done well enough by the end of the level to take on the baddest of the end-bosses? Misjudge yourself and you might reach the end of a hard fought level without enough money to buy the ammo and armor to properly face him. And you will need a lot -- every end boss match has a 60 second time limit that forces you to go all out and balls to the wall as soon as the timer starts. This small amount of time can definitely heighten your excitement, but it can also cause frustration as it eliminates any chance for real strategy.
But the levels in between the boss matches do provide some thrills as teammates and foes swirl around you with action that is pretty much non-stop throughout. Other elements like the huge Exoskeleton walkers you can climb in and pilot (think Sigourney Weaver in the power loaders of Aliens) provide a variety to the combat that keeps the levels interesting and challenging. In fact, challenge is one of BOS’s real strengths. As mentioned before, it does a great job of forcing you to ramp up your skills quickly as you fight to earn more cash against AI that does a good job of displaying a desire for self-preservation. They use cover well and work as teams trying to flush you out with flanking maneuvers and use of the nasty hallucinogenic gas grenades that will fill your screen with a noxious green fog. So at the end of the single player campaign you can expect to be a much better at nearly any FPS, and with having to consider your finances throughout all your battles, you may be able to start balancing your check book as well.
But the fun of the gameplay doesn’t come without a few hiccups that will remind you that you are in your room at home instead of in a bloody game show of the future. One of our stranger criticisms of BOS is the voice-acting and localization. Either that, or this game is the first to allow you to adjust your overly-emotional computer equipment. Sliders in the options menu allow you to adjust your keyboard, mouse, and joystick’s sensibility. I am sure there is a person or two in each of our lives who could use the same slider. Besides poor translation, the voice-acting is riddled with awkward phrases and sayings that will be totally out of place to any native English-speaker. One of my favorite examples occurs when a fellow soldier runs up to you as soon as you enter a new level and exclaims, “The base is being over run! Be blessed!”
Unfortunately these problems distract from what would have otherwise been a strong showing in the sound department. Explosions and gunfire sound great and even jostling liquid-filled barrels creates a perfectly muted “sploosh”. The score is subtle but contributes well to the mood, and small touches like your own footsteps and bullet-ricochets are all a very immersive. If only it wasn’t for the wacky dialogue!