Mobile Forces Review

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Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Rage

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 450 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB video card

Why run to the battlefield when you can hitch a ride in a speedy vehicle? With vehicles ranging from light and fast dune buggies to plodding troop transports, you're never too far from a fight in Mobile Forces. This multiplayer, first-person shooter offers eight different games including the usual deathmatch, team deathmatch, holdout and capture-the-flag games as well as several variants such as "detonation" (a contest to trigger the detonation of explosive collars around your enemies' necks). Mobile Forces also includes two, off-line single-player modes.

Rob de los Reyes

Not every game released needs to be The One True Game. Well-meaning ambition has sunk many a game that, with a little focus, might have fared better. Sometimes, modesty is a virtue. Mobile Forces is another team-oriented, multiplayer first-person shooter in a sea of such games, seeking to grab your attention not through a revolution in gaming but with focused design and a couple of good ideas well-implemented. The result of this modest plan is a tight, unimposing game with much to recommend it. At the same time, this modesty – and an unfortunate (North American) release date in between the wildly popular Battlefield 1942 and Unreal Tournament 2003 – may have left Mobile Forces a tight, unimposing game in search of an audience.

Compared to the weighty backdrop of World War II featured in Battlefield 1942 and even the future-sport concept of UT 2003, Mobile Forces feels, for better and worse, as substantive as cotton candy. There is no story, no coherent world vision, no sense of the identity of the players beyond "red team" and "blue team." Throw in the goofy voice-over announcing match events, and the whole thing smacks of shallowness. The flip side of the coin, however, is that unburdened by any singular vision, Mobile Forces is free to indulge in whimsy. Maps range from a polar ice station to conventional warehouse/urban maps to an Old West ghost town. The last of these is particularly entertaining, not only for the anachronistic spectacle of military vehicles rolling down a dusty Main Street, but because there's just no substitute for a bona fide Old West gun fight.

Most maps (the best maps) also sport hills or bumps in the road designed to offer a little Fahrvergnugen in Mobile Forces' signature feature – its vehicles. Unlike Battlefield 1942, you are here limited to a few basic ground vehicles like dune buggies and humvees, identical no matter which team you're on. On the other hand, compared to the lumbering tanks and mobile artillery of Battlefield 1942, even the slowest vehicle in Mobile Forces gives you a relatively speedy ride. Moreover, these vehicles are subject to the remote-control car physics that developer Rage seems to favor in its games. And this is where those hills and bumps come in. Most of Mobile Forces' vehicles catch a good amount of air coming off even small bumps, to say nothing of the single giant hill that lies dead center in one game map. Flying through the air while your passengers' guns blaze away at the enemy is a carnival thrill, and its silliness is much of the fun. If you land badly or crash into an enemy vehicle, you'll lose a few seconds while your vehicle rights itself, but otherwise suffer no real injury unless your opponent takes advantage of your vulnerability to get in a few pot shots.

If your opponent is lucky or good, he might get a clean hit on one of your tires and blow it out. The idea of shooting out tires isn't revolutionary, but, once again, it turns out to be good fun. Losing a tire doesn't mean the end of your vehicle. Lose one, two or even three wheels and you can still move, but you'll lose speed and control. All of a sudden, peeling around a corner becomes spin-out management, particularly when you're otherwise too occupied to notice you've lost a tire until after you go into the spin. Mostly, the sight of one or two missing tires gives you that "If I can just... hang... on... few... seconds" kind of rush. And if you can't hang on a few more seconds, no matter. Spawn times for you and the vehicles are fast, putting you back into the action in short order.

The trouble right now is that Mobile Forces needs a more active multiplayer scene. That it deserves one is of no comfort to you if you can't find a good, full match. Since the AI bots do a serviceable job in each of the different game types, the single-player skirmish mode is entertaining for a quick five or ten minutes of action when all you have are those few minutes. But you're not going to be a satisfied customer unless you can get some bang for your multiplayer buck. Moreover, the speed of the vehicles makes finding a lag-free game even more important, so not just any old game will do. Before you open your wallet, see if you can talk a friend or two into doing the same. As long as you have some buddies to run over in your humvee, you may have all the entertainment you need.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on October 28, 2002 10:29 AM.

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