Although initially it was announced as Crossfire, the name of the present game was eventually changed in Conflict: Denied Ops, to benefit from the brand awareness. This is the fifth title from the Conflict series, following more or less successful releases, like: Desert Storm, Desert Storm II, Vietnam or Global Terror. Though the Conflict series isn’t that well known, it makes its “glorious” return on the PC, along with the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. The only problem is that the multi-platform development of a game was never a good sign for potential buyers, especially on PC.
Denied Ops first sends us to Venezuela, where the Government has been overthrown by a new military regime, which threatens with the use of the nuclear weapons against the USA if they will not mind their own business. And because the Yankees cannot stay away when the democratic rights of other countries are being violated, they will send two of the best CIA special agents, from S.A.D. (Special Activities Division), to sabotage different military objectives and to gather information about the new regime in office. The two „heroes” sent in (operatives from the „bad ass” category) are Lincoln Graves – sniper – and Reggie Lang – heavy gunner, and the fact that neither can stand the other is not actually surprising (Lethal weapon anyone?).
The goal of the first mission is to infiltrate in a communication centre located in the ruins of the Santa Cecilia monastery in Venezuela. After this, you will have access to other theatres of operation, which you can choose to your liking. Among them is the Russian station Sveta-Ostrov, a town from Rwanda, where you will be sent to investigate a chimera radio transmission (the idea is quite similar to the one in the Black Hawk Down movie) or Siberia (Kolyma castle, to be exact) where you will have to hunt Alexsei Morchenko and his briefcase which contains the codes for some nuclear devices. And no, the story doesn’t lack a conspiracy which threatens world security.
No matter the mission, the objectives are simple: saving and protecting civilians, escorting some prisoners, stealing valuable information, destroying some strategic settlements, and so on. Almost all you can find in other shooters you will also find here, so there’s no variety to speak of. There is, though, a bonus system, which will grant you various weapon upgrades (like a camera used to shoot “around corners”, grenade launcher, different silencers, etc.).
A major downside is that the freedom of movement is almost inexistent, with the limitations being among the most drastic I have met in a shooter. You can act only according to the objectives, which you can accomplish only in the way thought by producers. If you will try to avoid objectives or to search other ways to reach them except for those already set in stone, you will come across the now famous “invisible walls”.
The game was mainly designed for the cooperative mode, where along with your buddy you can play the campaign, a very welcomed option, considering how rare this option is these days on the PC. If you want to begin the campaign on your own, your partner will be controlled by the AI (similar to what happens in Clive Barker’s Jericho or Rainbow Six: Vegas for example), and you will make use of simple orders: cover, movement, the usage of some equipment or protecting different objectives or NPCs. As far as their personality goes, the two protagonists follow the well-established path set before it by many other games or movies of the same type, with Graves being the tactical expert with the role of a mentor, while Lang is the tough and beefy guy, with a trivial language, who always prefers raw force.
Unfortunately, the feeling – this very hard to define feature – does not exist in Conflict: Denied Ops. You simply have no enthusiasm while playing, no motivation to jump to the next level and no interest for the story which should keep you interested until the last battle. Everything is extremely dull: you walk through the level, you shoot some soldiers, you trigger the adequate scripts and then you move on.