SAS Secure Tomorrow20 Nov 2008
Whilst the console market is now teeming with first person shooters, the home of the tactical shooter has always been the PC. From Rainbow Six to SWAT to Operation Flashpoint, the hardcore tactical approach has garnered a strong following, of which I am a member. SAS Secure Tomorrow was my first introduction to a game based on the elite British soldiers and, unfortunately, it’s not quite the game the regiment deserves.SAS Secure Tomorrow is no run and gun affair and a stealthy, tactical approach is crucial to completing your missions. The game is set in the recent past and, as is fashionable these days, sees you battling various acts of terrorism. Strangely for a modern shooter, there is no introductory phase, per-se. Instead you are given a few text hints which is a nice touch compared with the usual forced orientation phase.Movement and gun control are handled in classic PC FPS fashion. Keys are mapped in the standard WASD movement style and the mouse provides for easy aim and weapon changing. Combat is very straightforward and the game leans in the direction of “kill everything” (although it won’t let you shoot innocents or teammates) but does not reward running into areas blindly. Polish developer City Interactive has clearly been keeping an eye on modern shooter trends as the game eschews the traditional health packs in favour of the regenerative health system that’s so popular at the moment. A tactical shooter can be made or broken based on the AI of your teammates. SAS is a game which will probably frustrate some tactical veterans because the AI seems to be inconsistent and a bit overzealous. In most cases your teammates will progress though the level slightly ahead of you, setting the pace of the game. Sure, they will wait for you to progress to each new area, but there are rarely times when you will feel they are genuinely in sync with you. The level design and visual impact of SAS are quite impressive for such a low profile title. Whilst it’s not up there with the modern Unreal 3 or COD engines, the game’s visuals are sharp and probably would have been toward the top end of the visual spectrum a couple of years ago . One of the more impressive features is the use of flash grenades. Instead of giving you a bright light and tinnitus, flash grenades in SAS temporarily slow down time making it easier to take down multiple enemies in the room. It’s a nice touch and a good example of how City Interactive has tried to do something a little different with classic shooter conventions.The problems that tend to pIague low-budget shooters are mostly absent from SAS Secure tomorrow– clipping issues were seldom and the developer seemed appropriately concerned with creating environments that felt right. The game also throws lot of enemies at you, more than I expected from your average tactical shooter.Multiplayer is available but, with SAS not exactly being a AAA title, you may struggle to find willing participants. I have been spoiled by Xbox LIVE and the Playstation Network where it’s always easy to find opponents, and playing the waiting game was not hugely enjoyable. The multiplayer offerings are hardly revolutionary either – expect the standard deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag modes. It’s nothing new and unlikely to add much in the way of replay value to the game.
And, given that the single player game is unusually short, some replay value would have been nice. The main campaign can be polished off within a few hours which is obviously reflected in its budget price. However, the brevity and lack of replayabilty make SAS Secure Tomorrow feel more disposable than it ought to be. SAS Secure Tomorrow is a budget title that raises the bar for inexpensive game offerings, providing a short burst of action that is entertaining, if not particularly memorable.