Clandestine Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Clandestine Preview



Stealth is the key to everything. Whether you’re trying to sneak in an enemy base and destroy an insurgent cell or simply stealing some pie from the fridge, it’s all about going in as quiet as is humanely possible, completing the objective and getting the hell out before anybody realises what’s going on. Despite of how awesome stealth is, truly great sneakers are few and far between. Sure, Splinter Cell can be a fun stealthy romp every so often, Dishonored is brilliant and the latest Thief is also pretty good, but compare those three titles with the amount of explosive, bombastic games we’re treated to and you’ll see just how outnumbered these cuties are. In the midst of this situation arises a new title ready to trigger a knee-jerk response in all of us Splinter Cell veterans – Clandestine. With a seemingly similar set-up, an agile-but-useless-in-open-combat protagonist and a hacker to back her up, this thingie just might be what we need. That is, if it gets out of alpha.

The basic premise of the story is the same as it always is in spy games. You and your partner are operatives doing missions for a shady organization that has a hidden agenda et cetera et cetera. We haven’t been given much info just yet, but it would seem that we’ll be completing jobs all over the world, from what intel the developers shared up until this point. Since they’ve been secretive about the storyline, the game is currently packing three game-modes spread across four completely unrelated maps. These are fairly simple, ranging from “extermination” to intel collection. They do, however, showcase what the game’s all about quite nicely though. Controlling the spy from the usual OTS viewpoint, you’ll be climbing stuff, hugging walls and executing precise kill-shots with relative ease. While the game right now does feel quite wonky, I can also see what it could easily turn into. Should the shooting/sneaking mechanics be improved, as well as the stupidly dimwitted AI, Clandestine could easily be one of the small titles that succeed in making a name for themselves. Movement needs a revision too, since the animations are often off and feel too rigid for one such character. On the other side of the coin, we’ve got the hacker, whose overview of the game is entirely different to that of the spy. True to what we’ve learned from the best hacker-related movies of the eighties and nineties, this particular hacker is omnipresent and omniscient, as long as whoever controls him can complete hacking mini-games quickly and effectively. As a hacker, you’ll have to set up dead-drops, bribe guards, disable cameras and much, much more. A pair of clever players that aren’t afraid to communicate will get far in this game is what I’m saying. The system does need more refinement yet, but it’s all good as long as it works.

The Spy can select one of the three handguns, ammo type and gadgetry, as well as a type of disguise. Do you go with a casual attire that will slow down the guards’ reaction time or with the usual armour that offers better protection and more room for gadgets instead? With a wider selection of weaponry and tools the system could be quite intriguing – similar to the one used in the legendary Chaos Theory, but not quite as flashy. While the Hacker doesn’t have an entire armoury at his disposal, he’s the kind of dude we’ve all seen in 80s/90s hacking movies. You’ll be moving through the “cyberspace”, locating tech that’s in the way between the Spy and her objective and disabling stuff/opening doors as she moves. It’s nothing like hacking in real life, but it’s cool and makes you feel engaged – which is more than enough. The enemies can be bribed, which feels strange but works fine. This also makes me hope the devs will include more innovative options such as this.

Graphically, Clandestine isn’t anything special, but looks decent enough. Think Double Agent or Chaos Theory and you’ll get the picture. Strangely enough, I’ve had some serious frame rate issues that seemingly had very little to do with the graphics settings I modified, since changing them around didn’t do jack shit. As you can imagine, this reflected on the gameplay quite badly. The animations themselves aren’t that bad (although I do hope they’re just placeholders) but become terrible when you have to look at them running in barely half the intended frame rate.

As any new discerning title, Clandestine has a somewhat of a unique trick up its sleeve. That is, it’s built as a two-player CO-OP title, but where each player plays a wholly different role. Gameplay-wise, here’s how it works: the Spy spooks around one of the four currently available levels, completing objectives, eliminating guards and doing what the game protagonists usually do. The Hacker, however, is the one who opens doors, shuts down laser grids, cameras and such, thus clearing the way for the spy. This asynchronous approach could do wonders in COOP, because it already is the most fun you can have while playing Clandestine. Being an Early Access title, it’s buggy, unpolished, somewhat ugly and, at times, borderline unplayable. We get the hints of what this game might be, but definitely isn’t – at least not right now.

As it currently stands, I cannot recommend Clandestine for the price the devs are asking. It’s buggy, unrefined, doesn’t play nicely and overall acts like an early alpha release. I can see the devs’ plans for it however, and I greatly approve of them. It’s going to take a while for Clandestine to be properly up and running, but if the devs keep going towards their goal, there’s a good chance we’ll have one more great stealth title to play once it’s done. Here’s hoping that’s exactly how it goes.