Silent Scope Review
Being Playstation 2's very first arcade shooter, Konami's Silent Scope was a title that was on the verge of dropping out of the PS2 launch and at one point it did, but made a comeback. Silent Scope is in a way a game that's a bit like Namco's Time Crisis but the action is less, oh what's that word... "fierce" in Silent Scope. There haven't been many shooters such as Time Crisis on the PSOne, in fact Time Crisis was the only one of its kind, with the exception of the lame Area 51. But suddenly after the Columbine incident in April of '99, the gaming media had to take a lot of blame on all of the school violence and it seems that they are getting more and more petrified of releasing games that are compatible with gun peripherals. Even Sega themselves pulled their House of the Dead 2 game of the market, in order to avoid any attention from the government and John McCain. After E3, Konami announced that their arcade port of Silent Scope for Playstation 2 will not support any special gun peripheral, that is including the Namco GunCon. So with this setback, is Konami's first Playstation 2 game any game?
The visuals are arcade excessive, what I mean by that is that they look much better than the arcade version. The game is filled with buildings, cars and helicopters that can only mean, tons and tons of structures and textures. To some the game may resemble a Tom Clancy first person shooter game, such as Rainbow Six, but with a sniper twist. The city landscapes are finely built, with different looking building complexes that are made up out of large amounts of polygons. There aren't many different on-screen characters to look at, most of them are either troopers dressed in black or bald headed gang members, basically simple stuff, but they still look solid though. Not much is really displayed on screen really, you have the occasional police on one stage, football players on the other, gang members, troopers wearing black and of course bosses at the very end of the stage. Every stage has just about two or three different moving models if not less, the graphics after all are arcade perfect so a lot of credit goes there, the buildings are very nice and the character models are solid as well, but I wanna' see more in the sequel, something that would challenge the system's technological power.
Without the support of a light-gun, it would seem that the game would suck right? Wrong, after playing this game for awhile you will notice that a light-gun wouldn't be the best idea for the game and just make the whole game much more complicated. You see the target is a circle with a cross hare on it, the scopes target can either be zoomed in or zoomed out. How this all plays out is very easy, when the scope is zoomed in, about one quarter of the screen will be covered with the circle shaped lens, and you should only keep the zoomed lens on when there are many enemies nearby one another, so that you wouldn't have to hold Circle for the lens to zoom back out. When the lens is zoomed out, you can see the whole screen clearly, with the exception of the scopes zoomed out lens with its cross hare in the middle, this is handy if you want to look for enemies that are scattered out. Tracking enemies is incredibly easy, three blue triangles will indicate the presence of an enemy by surrounding his head. If you don't want to hold Triangle and search for your enemies, the zoomed in scope also has a red arrow that will direct your scope to where the nearest enemy is.
Silent Scope's story isn't the most intriguing one and feels a lot like Time Crisis' story. The President and his family have been kidnapped by a group of terrorists and gang members, and of course it is up to your character to do what needs to be done and that is to go and take out the enemy. Throughout the stages you will encounter at least one boss who may or may not have a hostage with him, if he does and you take him out, you will recover that hostage, if he doesn't, well then he doesn't. Every boss battle has a weak point, some bosses will die instantly if you shoot them in the head, but it's easier said than done. If you are trying to take out the boss in the football stadium quickly by shooting him in the head, a big challenge will stand in your way, and that is the fact that you are in a helicopter that is constantly moving and switching positions, which makes targeting a lot harder. Shooting them [the bosses] in the head is at times a tough task, as there will always be something in your way that will pose a threat to your targeting.
Like Time Crisis, your are timed and at the end of every level your full stats appear and show you how you did. Although every time you kill somebody an extra few seconds will be added towards your time, you better have fast fingers if you want to survive, because this game isn't so easy. It's true that the game doesn't have much to offer and can be beaten in about an hour or less, but it still is an exciting game with many different paths to take, with different challenges in all. One stage will have you shooting through the streets of a city, that resembles New York, the other will have you in a helicopter shooting down at a football stadium, another will force you on to the highway, shooting at baddies as they sit in the back of their vans, or even shoot into hotel rooms all courtesy of your trusty helicopter. The missions are innovative and are really something to admire, but I just wish that there were more of them, shooting in hotel rooms at unsuspecting gang members, or running through a forest with night vision goggles is a pretty cool concept and one that needs a little more elaboration if it wants to survive. The modes for Silent Scope are, Training and Arcade mode. The Arcade mode is where it all is, you either play in a Shooting Range (indoor/outdoor), the Story it self or Time Attack. The action is all based on skill, different shots to the body give you various amount of points, just make sure that you don't shoot an enemy and miss him more than twice, because you will only get about 100-200 points. The Training mode is somewhat like Namco's Point Blank games, training missions are about shooting objects like watermelons or cardboard people either in a certain amount of time or with perfect aim. Silent Scope isn't the deepest of games but is one incredibly amusing title that will get you addicted for a while, Time Crisis fans will enjoy this target shooter, while others may at least one to give this a rental, but I personally thought it was a nice game, with a good variety of multiple patterns to finish the whole game or at least an objective.
Audio in Silent Scope is nothing to complain about really. The training menu music is a jazzy-like beat, with trumpets and some soft drum beats in the background, a bit like Driver's music. The track fits well though, it kind of brings out this feel as if you are really heading off to training. The main menu music is where it's at, the beats are more Terminator-esque, that bring out this espionage feel to everything and also set the mood towards the whole gaming experience. There is some dialogue, but that's only when you are given missions and briefings, the quality was purposely done to sound like you are really receiving your order through a radio transmitter, which is pretty cool if you ask me. The gun shots sound nice if not too generic, but it gets the job done. Not bad audio, nothing to jump up and down over, but definitely nothing to groan about.
The controls are fairly easy, you maneuver your sniper with either the analog or digital pad, and once again I suggest analog for this game. You have the ability to change the speed of how fast your move your scope, by pressing either Triangle or Square. X is the button that will shoot and holding O will cause the sniper to zoom out, and releasing it will set the scope back to default. The Dual Shock lets you feel the bullets, shooting out of the barrel at lightning speeds, and the Dual Shock will also let you feel your wound as you get some lead injected into your body. Good solid controls, this game was definitely designed to be played with a controller, rather than a gun, or at least that's how I feel about it.
Silent Scope's only major flaw is that it may be a bit on the short side, because it took me a little less than an hour to complete the whole game once, although I came back to take the different routes and see where they would take me. Silent Scope has arcade perfect visuals, the gameplay to match it and is a great game for those Time Crisis fans out there. I personally enjoyed playing through it numerous of times, and you will too if you've worn Namco's Time Crisis out. I think that the price for the game may be a bit too much for what the game offers, so some of you may want to rent this before you buy it.
10/28/2000 Arnold Katayev