Many things come to mind when it comes to war. The strategy would be one of them. Also, weapons and vehicles are others that could come to mind as well. But what if you needed that special department of the military that takes a special kind of person to have the mindset, to have the courage, and to have what it takes to help make things safe all without you really knowing or hearing about it? What type of planning and training would you have to go through to be part of that covert ops team, the one that they know you will get the job done? It really can make you think. But does nDreams show us what it’s like to be that member of that special covert ops team? I’m going to answer it right now and say yes, yes they do. Let’s find out more with Phantom: Covert Ops.
I want to apologize now for the gameplay audio. For some reason, the audio was not captured after the first mission and I didn’t realize this until later on. So not thinking of replaying the missions to try and get the audio again, I decided to start new which means I lost all the progress I made….go 2020. with that said…let’s continue…
Phantom: Covert Ops is a stealth game first and foremost that takes place in 1991 at the end of the Cold War. It will be your job to infiltrate a flooded military facility as you try and stop the evil Navy General named Nikolai Zhurov. Now, you might be thinking with the word flooded, that you will be swimming. And while that might be a good thought, you will actually be playing the whole entire game in a kayak. Yes, a kayak. So you will need to be paddling and maneuvering through the night, through the facility, and other places all while trying not to be detected or kill too many casualties as stealth is the main focus in this glorious detailed world of Phantom: Covert Ops.
So before you get all anxious and paddle right into it all, please make sure the batteries in your Oculus Touch controllers are fully charged as you do not want to receive that critical error message that one or both of your Touch controllers are low (been there a few times myself). Now that you are all set, you will want to decide on the graphics setting. If your PC can handle it, go for the high settings as this will give you the Dynamic Shadows along with the water simulation, post-processing, and volumetric lighting are at the highest quality, and honestly, it gives it that wow factor in the game. Once you have everything set, make sure you grab your favorite chair as this is a sitting experience as you will be paddling and get ready for the experience you need to have.
Now that you have your orders, it’s time to get in the water and start to learn how to maneuver the kayak. In order to move, you paddle like you really would in a kayak. For those that have never touched a kayak, like me, then this is going to be the closes thing you may get to actually being in one. This is a good and possibly bad thing. I say possibly bad because it can at times be frustrating trying to move the kayak. When you need to make a sharp turn, just hold down the A button on the right Oculus Touch controller and you should be good to go. If you need to recenter, just click down on the thumbstick. To go backward you paddle backward. The frustrating part, at least for me, came when I got turned around and I tried to make those turns and it was like I was caught in some evil whirlpool without the actual whirlpool. But once you start to get the hang of it all, that is when the fun starts. Before I knew it I was zooming along and making those turns like a pro.
Even though you are in a kayak the entire time, you do have to watch out for enemies. So when you see them, sometimes you will need to find alternative ways of getting to the next point in the mission. This can be going through tunnels or just a different path. Some of the enemies may have lights that they will be on the lookout for you. This is when you need to be very quiet with your movement. When an enemy is near, there is no need to paddle as fast as you can all the time as they will hear you. So sometimes just waiting for them to pass by as you wait in some grass or under a dock for example may be the best tactic Some enemies are snipers and some can be in boats or even helicopters. And I will say that you have not lived until you are trying to not be spotted by a helicopter that is bulletproof while paddling on a kayak. Quite the rush it is. Lucky for you the kayak you are in has a meter that tells you if you are exposed or not. What I like is even if you are detected, the action slows down to almost giving you that last few seconds to do something before it’s all over.
But not all of the enemies you will want to avoid. When you do come across enemies, take out your binoculars and take a pic by pulling the trigger button on your Touch controller. This will do a couple of things. For one, you can see possible distractions that you can use to shoot to help you get past an area or clear out some unwanted guests. And two, you will be hearing the radio communication that will give you assistance from what you need to do or if the targets are high profile ones. So even though it may seem like you are alone in all of this, you do have the support from afar.
The binoculars are not your only weapon per se, you also have a pistol with a silencer, a sniper, and an automatic gun that you really need to hold with both of your hands. Plus it is just awesome to be able to look in the scope to get that headshot. Just be careful that you do not waste ammo as you will need to reload and if you are out, you are out, unless you come across more along the way. You will also come across new “weapons” and tools, but I don’t want to ruin that for anyone and will let you discover that on your own.
After each mission, you are ranked. Your score is based on different factors including the time it took to complete the mission and bonuses such as pacifist and ghost that gives you more of a bonus for the times not being seen. Also, with each missing completed, you do get to see how well you did on the leaderboards which are a very nice touch, as well as being able to unlock new challenges as well as new gear to use in the free play mode.
Again, I apologize for the sound not being captured after the first mission but hearing the explosions and insects while on the water really adds to the immersion. The way each side of the paddle touches the water only to hear those drops of water is truly lifelike. Then when you add the detail of the graphics from just the way the moon reflects off the water to the flashlights and spotlights moving as though almost dancing on top of the water like dragonflies through the night, Phantom: Covert Ops is possibly one of the best Virtual Reality experiences you can have.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have more challenges to complete and climb those leaderboards.