You might be excused from passing on Combat: Task Force 121 because of the name and budget price. I myself am a little prejudice when it comes to titles and price. How can it be any good if it's under $20? And with a name like Combat: Task Force 121, you can only imagine how bad this game is. Conversely, if this game were priced at $99 the name would instantly increase in status as would the perceived quality.

Fortunately for you, there is us. We take the guesswork out of situations like these because you are CCCP members and you deserve the best. We play games so that you don't have to. If we find something we like, we encourage you to try it. If we find something that causes us pain we warn you about it. Of course it's just our personal, professional opinion and we do encourage you to think for yourself - but not too much or we might be out of a job.

There are plenty of shooters on the market, and military-themed games seem to be crawling out of the woodwork lately. I have to admit that many of them are really, really good, so when a mediocre one appears such as Task Force 121 it really, really sucks in comparison.

Things would have been different for this game if it were released a couple of years ago but it treads on retreaded ground; serving up a bland buffet of salads and side dishes, never a main course. It's essentially a series of missions that don't relate to a bigger picture. It seems that the only reason for its existence is to exploit the Xbox Live feature. However, neither the single or multi-player modes can justify even a rental of this game.

The single-player mode is as simple as it gets. Moving from start to finish you take out all opposition and perform what typically amounts to a fetch quest. Find your item and get out. There is such little strategy involved you have to wonder if you're considered a bit of a simpleton by the military which would explain why your missions are so lame. At the completion of a mission I half expect some commander to pat me on the head and say, "Good boy."

Multi-player modes are bountiful both off and online. Unlike most games that have a bad single-player mode, none of the multi-player modes come to the rescue. The problem stems from faulty mechanics and unbalanced weapons, not to mention lackluster maps.

Weapons may be limited to a few shotguns and automatic rifles but I can live with that. What I don't like is that it's easier to take out an enemy with a shotgun than it is with a semi-automatic gun. The level designs always make you feel claustrophobic because you can't see very far and there are no real vantage points where you can spot the enemy before they spot you. Add to the fact that there are no health kits and you start to question your outfit's superiority. At no time does the game ever instill you with any sense of confidence. If you make it through it's only because it was easy or you got lucky.

Task Force 121 is an ugly looking game. It looks unfinished, like a storyboard. The textures are bulky and blurry and the animated soldiers move like marionettes controlled by someone with Turrets. In its defense, the enemy AI is more intelligent than ones in your average shooter. If they were any more intelligent they would pick up and find a better game to play in. I advise you to do likewise.

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System: XBOX
Dev: Direct Action
Pub: Groove Games
Released: March 2005
Players: 1 -16
Review by Dan