Raven Squad is set in the jungles of the Brazilian Amazon in the year 2011 and you get to control a mercenary group called the Raven Squad, hence the title. What makes Raven Squad different from your classic shooter in the jungle is that it blends two genres together: FPS and RTS. The idea of having the ability to switch from your first person shooter to a more tactical real time strategy view is pretty damn innovative and the developers actually handle it pretty well. Switching from one mode to another is done easily with the touch of one button and never slows down the action, but is this enough to make this title enjoyable?
Your squad of six members consists of Oso, Paladin and Thor on the Assault Squad and Shadow, Flash and Zombie on the Infiltrator Squad. The infiltrator squad is the sniper portion of the team while the assault portion handles the heavy hitting with grenades and rockets. The game explains having the ability to switch to RTS mode by having intelligence uploaded and having someone be your eyes in the sky if you will. Although it is called an RTS mode it is more like Halo Wars than Starcraft and you only control those previously mentioned 6 characters. Each mode has its advantage, FPS mode gives you faster reaction times and allows you to snipe and better control shooting enemies, while the RTS mode allows you to see enemies on the board and take cover behind fallen trees, bunkers, etc.
I like how the game keeps track of the ratio of RTS to FPS you played during a certain board, but I do take issue with the fact that other than 1 or 2 times in the game that forced you to play in a certain style you could really just play it in either form. You never really needed to be in one mode or the other to finish the game. You could easily have done the whole game in FPS or RTS. There is a couple of instances where you got to take control of a turret on a truck, which helps break the levels up a bit, but for the most part the maps are pretty straight forward and there is only one way to get from point A to B.
Expect to be finished with the game in about 5 to 6 hours and to encounter little resistance in the first few boards on the normal difficulty. The very poor voice acting puts a huge damper on the feel of the game especially when the person giving you intelligence updates has a very terrible accident and makes you want to punch the screen. The jungle was also limiting at times as it makes seeing things like enemies difficult and you for some reason you can’t shoot or walk through a brush, which is a bit annoying.
The controls in the game were probably the brightest shining portion of the game as you can switch on the fly easily form the two modes and in RTS mode you can execute certain special attacks like flash bangs, grenades, etc. very easily. The ability to throw flash bangs and throw very accurate grenades in RTS mode was very satisfying, especially because if not controlled properly the AI of your partners is less than stellar. Also reviving members that have fallen in combat is handled well, once they are downed you have a certain amount of time to go over and revive them or the mission is failed, everyone must survive to progress, but you can revive soldiers in both RTS and FPS, which is beneficial.
Raven Squad boils down to a great idea that was executed fairly well, but lacked an element of polish. Many people that are looking for something a bit different should at least rent this game and give it a go, but since it is pretty short and other than changes in difficulty there isn’t much replay value I can’t tout it as a full purchase. Raven Squad is a run of the mill FPS and a decent RTS, but together it makes it a pretty fun time to play. Don’t expect a huge production or a lot of flash in this title, just down and dirty action, which is fairly linear, but does give you a tactical feel. Quite honestly this game is nothing without the ability to switch to the RTS mode and that is what kept me interested, I would love to see a more fleshed out version of this game in the future using this control scheme, but with better content and graphics.
Developer: Atomic Motion
Publisher: SouthPeak Games/ Evolved Games
Release Date: 8/25/2009