Winback 2: Project Poseidon Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
PlayStation 2
Release date:
April 25, 2006
Publisher:
KOEI
Developer:
Cavia
Players:
1
Genre:
Action
ESRB:
T

Winback 2: Project Poseidon

Shoot fast and think faster if you want to survive.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
April 25th 2006

Winback 2 reminds me of an ex-girlfriend. One moment it's sweet, sweet love, and the next I want to chuck it in front of a moving train, after lighting it on fire.

Not an experience for the easily frustrated

In its distilled essence, you have a third person action game where your duck and cover through a series of interiors to take out terrorists and other malcontents that pop up in your path. You need to stop to aim before you can shoot, so there's no running and gunning, but there is location-specific damage. A shot to the head is lights out for any thug, but don't expect him to drop any ammo. Same with two shots to his easy to hit chest. Hit him in the leg and he'll drop to his knees, while pulling off a shot to his gun arm will send his weapon flying, letting you collect it later. Normally, you'll be clinging to walls or other conveniently placed objects, aiming and waiting for him to reload to take these random scum down with two quick shots (on Normal at least). Though sometimes there won't be cover, and you'll have to make use of the evasive rolls to pop out into the open for a quick shot, or up close for some melee action.

Sounds easy so far? To begin with, enemies don't always come in singles. On the latter levels, you can expect to be caught in the crossfire of up to five hardened soldiers filling the air with a hail of machinegun fire. They do give you grenades for just such an occasion, but aiming with them is pretty much a crapshoot. More than half the time they don't land where you want, and you'll only take out the one guy you weren't even aiming at instead of the three in the back. There are also C4 packs, but they mainly serve as mines against battle-hardened bosses, where they are just...explosive.

The biggest challenge comes from CRT points. These are your lifeline. Run out, and it's game over time. Each bullet you take will take one with it, while explosions will gobble up two or more. A few extra CRTs are scattered in each level, though these become more and more scarce as you delve deeper into the game. Added to this is the really fierce enemy encounters tend to be at the end of a section, leaving you to repeat everything you've done up to that point, sometimes multiple times, until you can finally clear it with your neck intact. You're not off the hook yet, because the agent doing the B side of the level starts with your remaining points, though depending on how you did earlier he might have a few spare points coming his way.

Doing two things at once, one after the other

The overall mission structure is a series of episodes, each divided into three missions, then chopped into two "sides" running simultaneously with the two agents pre-selected for you for this particular run. It really doesn't matter who you use since Craig (token white guy), Nick (token black guy), and Mia (token non-guy) all play the same, which is admittedly a bit of a disappointment. During the A run, aside from his own mission, the agent will have the chance to help out his teammate, which not only makes their lives easier by clearing away enemies and other obstacles, but provides CRT points if you act fast enough. A minor annoyance about these assist actions is when they appear on the B side, the agent is always using his default weapon. So if you took out three guys in one shot from the rocket launcher, don't expect it to appear that way in the replay. The whole game is on a timer, but with rare exception it's always more than enough to get the job done. Specific goals like these, however, sometimes have their own special timer that pops up in the middle of the screen just to egg you on. And you better move because hitting zero means game over.

In defense of Winback 2, ninety percent of the times you're shot, it's your fault. You rushed into the room without scanning for enemies, didn't take cover when you had the chance, or didn't bail when a thug shouted "I'll teach you!" (he's about to toss a grenade in your direction). Though even if you're a tough as nails gamer, that other ten percent is going to drive you insane. The biggest sin on the part of the developers was mapping evasive rolls to the same button as context-sensitive actions. This means if you're trying to lean up against a wall but are a little off, you roll out into enemy fire instead and get shot. Or you're trying to melee someone, but you're just a bit too far away, you roll past him, and get shot in the back. Hideo help you if you actually want to roll through a doorway to catch an enemy by surprise. It's nearly impossible.

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