Review: Predator UAV
By Adrian Luca
In the past some of the best console games on the market
have been pilloried by lobby groups both liberal and conservative
for promoting violence against innocents. Worthy bestsellers
like "Carmageddon", "Postal" and "Kingpin" have been attacked
as if they were sequels to "The Turner Diaries" rather than
The latest to feel this heat is the brilliant "Grand Theft
Auto 3" by RockStar Games, which even earned the distinction
of a thread calling for its banning in a forum here at Democratic
Underground. Why? Because players win points for beating up
pixilated prostitutes and running down cartoonish pedestrians.
It's as if critics expect 16 year-old boys to suddenly jump
up from their playstations, steal the keys to mom's Taurus,
and mow down little old ladies in supermarket carparks.
All this makes the relative silence that has accompanied
C.I.A's latest release "Predator UAV: War On Terror" so refreshing.
Creativity at this cutting-edge developer was stifled by its
parent corporation following the release of the controversial
"Operation Phoenix" role-playing-game in the early 1970's,
and again in the mid 80's after complaints about its primitive
but adventurous offering "Contra: Freedom Or Death." But finally
it seems the shackles at CIA have been loosened.
In "Predator UAV" you play a secret operative on the hunt
for terrorists and their assorted running dogs. Controlling
an unmanned surveillance plane from the comfort of your base
in an unnamed third country you scour the badlands of Afghanistan
with sensitive electronic eyes, on the lookout for evil-doers.
Merely identifying Taliban combatants wins you 50 points a
pop. Spotting an al Qaeda fighter gets you 100. Taking out
Osama bin Laden wins you the game and a Congressional Medal
I was only 5 minutes into my first mission before I spotted
three untoward-looking characters from an altitude of 25,000
feet. Wait a minute! That guy with the beard and turban seemed
unusually tall! Receiving authorization from the Global Operations
Center in Langley, Va. I ordered my drone to swoop down like
a vengeful bald eagle and let loose a Hellfire missile. The
resultant carnage was exquisitely detailed, with each bloodstained
robe, every coil of intestine and numerous amputated blood-spurting
body parts lovingly rendered in realistic 3D.
As it turned out, my kill was worthless. The suspicious three
were actually poverty-stricken villagers scavenging for scrap
metal. But a fortunate quirk of this game is that you don't
lose any long-term momentum for offing the wrong people. In
fact you can actually gain by quickly ordering a follow-up
drop of $100 bills.
As I maneuvered my predator over the next ridge, I immediately
eyed another group of almost-identical characters, and returned
to base for re-arming. That's one minor problem with "Predator
UAV." Friendlies and enemies all look alike. The best strategy
is to blast them all and let the CPU sort them out.
All in all I give "Predator UAV: War On Terror" two thumbs
up for graphics, story and simple adrenaline-pumping playability.
And to all the squeamish would-be censors out there I can
only say: It's just a game, folks!
Adrian Luca is an Australian-based writer.