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And if sweeping and clearing is the name of the game, the level design this time around is all about keeping the action flowing. I won’t go into details of the plot; needless to say it’s the usual Tom Clancy game nonsense about terrorist organisations attacking worldwide targets with nanotech bio-weapons, but it sends you as far as South Africa, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, France and the Sahara into a series of levels full of large chambers or outdoor spaces narrowing nicely into smaller corridor choke points. There are obvious set-pieces where you face a mass assault or concentrated sniper fire, but every level has its high points and a look and feel all its own.
In addition, a scattering of missions boast a sniper mini-level, where you attempt to blast the bad guys before they can damage the rest of the team. It’s all a bit Silent-Scope light, and hardly the killer feature Ubisoft claim, but it is good fun and adds a little extra variation.
More fruitful efforts have been made in giving your team some personality this time around. You can actually see their faces most of the time, and the cut-scenes take pains to give them little quips or hero moments that show they’re not just faceless drones but human beings. This even extends into the game, where they all have their own comments and exclamations to make while taking fire or clearing a room.
It’s a partial success, mainly because you can only believe these guys are human if they behave in a faintly rational manner. At their best, your team-mates are smart and ruthlessly efficient, clearing rooms, scouting corridors and blasting bad guys before you even get a look in. At other times, they struggle for position in order to open a door, wander into the line of fire, or decide to explore the room beyond without worrying about the firefight going on behind them. In my worst case yet, I witnessed in horror as all three squaddies took turns to descend a ladder backwards into a room packed with gun-toting goons, only pausing once the shooting started, presumably to make an easier target. Without ordering a halt and showering the room with grenades and pot-shots, it was virtually impossible to proceed.
On the plus side, the enemy can be just as variable. For every expert marksman or sneaky git who creeps round on your blindside, there’s some twit who can’t see that you’re right behind him. As for the goons who fire a rocket launcher at the low wall two feet in front of them, well…