Like the war it was inspired by, Airborne Troops: Countdown to D-Day should have stayed in Europe.

This lame, third-person, action shooter began life nearly two years ago in Europe exclusively as a PC game. One can only wonder why someone dictated that it invades the shores of North America to do combat with other great shooters on the PS2. However, the list of games that would tremble in the presence of Airborne Troops is an extremely short list.

If you've purchased Airborne Troops there is one consolation: it's a budget title. But even if it were free I would recommend staying away from it. No one needs to be so needlessly frustrated in their life that they should have to play this game. While I do like a challenge, Airborne Troops is certainly that, but much of the challenge comes from sloppy design issues that are obviously unintentional.

It's World War II. John Welsh plays the part of a poor man's Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell). He's long-winded and downright annoying. I don't mind having him take the odd bullet just to shut the hell up for a while. His narrative is way too corny and convoluted. He's spouting out anecdotes, facts and figures that are supposed to reveal some kind of a story. All you need to know is that you're in enemy territory, German occupied France to be exact, and that you have to keep quite or else the Nazis will be on you like a tornado in a trailer park.

The shooting aspect of this game is terrible. Although you have a number of period-specific guns, including pistols, rifles and a machine gun, you're not really encouraged to use them for most of the missions. Each level will have you work your way from start to finish while locating a few items along the way. If bad guys get in your way, kill them and move on. Sounds like your basic shooter premise. But it all goes horribly wrong. If the Nazis hear you it's basically game over. They will swarm you until you have no defenses left. Sure the action gets really intense but it doesn't let up. These Nazis just keep coming, and coming. It also doesn't help that the auto targeting system malfunctions by targeting more distant enemies as opposed to the ones that are an immediate threat. You also have to be an excellent aim when using a pistol or machinegun since the reticle is so damn small. But it's huge for the rifles. Go figure.

To get safely to the next level you have to do two things. You have to use stealth, and second, you have to collect the items that make up the objectives. Using stealth throughout the entire game is impossible. There are too many guards and not enough hiding spaces. There's just no way you can keep it up for an entire level. You can't save in any level. If you get killed you'll have to start it all over again. That goes for not completing your objectives. If you fail to collect all of the items within a level, you'll have to start the level all over again. Keep in mind that the game doesn't warn you all the time when you haven't collected your items. So not only do you have to try to crawl around without being seen but you have to completely explore this Nazi-infested hell hole to complete your objectives.

It's a given that the animation is going to be lacking. But while it's stiff, and there are signs of clipping, the graphics aren't terrible. The character models are decent and the environments are good with lots of European architecture both in pristine and war-ravaged condition.

Strains of music arise to highlight various situations but for the most part the game is pretty quiet. Even the Nazis don't have a lot to say. I guess that's because they don't want to get John Welsh started.

As it stands, this game is just too unrealistic to make it tick. Airborne Troops manages to get off the ground but it doesn't take long before it crash-lands somewhere behind enemy lines - with nobody bothering to recover it.

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System: PS2
Dev: Wide Screen Games
Pub: Mud Duck
Released: Jan 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole