Originally created 12/01/05

'Without Warning' is fun, but could have been better

Without Warning is full of contradictions.

It's not bad, but it's not great, either. It's not a first-person shooter, but it's close enough. It's not difficult, but it's not easy.

First, the story: You play as different members of a military team trying to stop terrorists who have taken over a chemical plant. You also play as a plant security guard, a receptionist trying to escape and a news cameraman with visions of Pulitzer.

All the characters have their specialties, and their stories take place simultaneously. Occasionally, their paths cross.

The main problem with shoot-'em-up games is that they get repetitive. You can shoot only so many bad guys before you no longer care..

Without Warning attempts to solve this problem by giving you additional objectives: Reroute wiring, defuse bombs, film certain subjects, avoid detection. For the most part, it keeps game-play fresh.

It gets repetitive only when you die and have to do the mission again. The worst part is getting killed with the exit in sight. Most cut scenes at the beginning of each mission cannot be skipped. Get it right or you're going to hear the same conversation over and over.

The missions usually aren't very difficult or very long. Without Warning keeps a good pace of steady action. There are some tough spots, but even those won't make you throw the controller at the television.

It handles a lot like a first-person shooter, except you see over the shoulder of the characters instead of through their eyes, which is a good choice for this game.

The main problem is that it's sometimes hard to see where your enemies are. You hear the shots, take damage, but can't find where to return fire. Forget combat in close quarters; It's almost impossible.

Even with all the action and shooting, Without Warning requires stealth and patience. It's good that medical kits to replenish your life are abundant.

If only ammo were easy to find. There's nothing like being surrounded by machine gun-toting terrorists and having nothing but an empty gun to hit them with.

Graphics are serviceable, but it's hard to get past the fact that mouths don't move when people talk. Come on, Capcom, you can do better.

Despite its faults, Without Warning is a fun action game. It just could have been better.

Reach Dustin Turner at (706) 828-2903 or dustin.turner@augustachronicle.com.

'Without warning'

Specs: Third-person action/shooting game developed by Capcom for PlayStation 2 and X-box; $39.99

ESRB RATING: M (for mature), for language and violence

Verdict: * * out of * * * * *


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