Where: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; from £35
What’s it about?
As Axl Rose once sang: welcome to the jungle. African countries sliding towards genocide aren’t, as a rule, fun subjects for video games. Kudos, then, that this downbeat, tense and realistic actioner just about pulls it off. As a mercenary, you’re brought in to kill off The Jackal – an arms dealer fueling rival warlords’ gun-lust. You move around a vast and intricately detailed landscape that features everything from shanty towns to savannah and lush jungles, dealing with the feuding factions in a first-person shooter that never lets you off the hook.
The breadth and scope is incredible: you’re free to tackle situations any way you want (note: no suggesting a dance-off) – from setting fire to bush to flush out enemies or create a smokescreen, to choosing either armoured vehicles or stealth to crack well-defended military camps. Essentially, you’re locked into a realistic world – healing means taping up wounds while limping for it; using a map doesn’t pause the game, either.
What’s good about it?
Realistic, tense combat, great graphics, wide-open play. Plus intelligent, organised enemies that use the same tricks you do (and get to call in reinforcements).
What’s bad about it?
The plot, about a nasty side of a central African country collapsing into chaos, is curiously squeamish; and the excellent atmosphere is punctured occasionally by some too obviously gamey touches.
Gripping, free-roaming African coup shoot-a-thon. The kind Mark Thatcher might play and think: “Hmmm.”