A few days back, we posted our review of an indie shooter by the name of Manhunter. Developed by Polish studio Silden, Manhunter was a cut-and-dry, run of the mill military shooter, and although it launched at the budget price of $5.00, we didn’t find the game worth the price of admission.
Today we’re reviewing another indie shooter by the name of Chernobyl Commando, also developed by Silden and available on Steam. I wish I could say things fared better this time around, but it ended up being close to the exact same game. Using the same menu, map, soundtrack, weapons, enemy models, sound effects and loading screens, Chernobyl Commando doesn’t really do anything to separate itself from being a cheap re-skin of Seldin‘s previous game, Manhunter, but in a different setting and for double the price at $10.00. I honestly feel like I could have done the same thing and copy/pasted our Manhunter review here, but I want to give the game a fair review instead.
26 years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion, terrorists have taken over the area in search of nuclear waste to use for typical bad guy stuff. In Chernobyl Commando, you play as one half of a Spec Ops duo sent to assist the military in taking down the terrorists and securing the desolated remains of the former power plant.
Plot isn’t the game’s strong point, and what little of it exists is delivered in campy dialogue that is often inaudible at times. I initially figured that some sort of dynamic sound was in play because I wasn’t facing the NPC as they talked, but that was never the case at all. NPC’s often spoke in whispers, while groups of them would repeat the exact same animations frame-for-frame like some sort of glitchy flash mob.
Much like Silden‘s previous game, Manhunter, Chernobyl Commando relies heavily on the use of one-shot-kill sniper rifles and virtually useless automatic weapons. Sniper rifles will generally kill any enemy with a single bullet regardless of where you decide to shoot them, be it between the eyes or in the testicles, but automatic weapons provide extremely poor damage and accuracy to the point of being absolutely worthless.
One of my many complaints with Manhunter was its lack of variety within its repetitive mission structure, specifically pinpointing its complete lack of setpiece moments to break up the monotony. Chernobyl Commando actually addressed this concern by offering mounted weapon combat segments, either from the back of a slow moving truck or behind a stack of sandbags, but Silden somehow made these moments repetitive as well by adding them in to virtually every single mission. These short-lived moments are also more frustrating than entertaining as they suffer from extremely poor accuracy and generally leave you out in the open for the game’s absurd AI to pick you apart with their dead-aim precision.
At times, Chernobyl Commando seemed to be visually superior to Manhunter and does offer slightly more interesting level designs, although it still suffers from the exact same flaws and looks straight out of 2005. You’ll always run from point A to point B, take down terrorists with over-powered sniper rifles, and repeat the process until the very end of the game. There is also never a sense of danger as you move around Chernobyl, as the soundtrack is a clear indicator of whether or not enemies are even present. You just shoot to kill until the 30 second battle song stops looping and move it along, unless you have the choice of calling it quits early.
Chernobyl Commando‘s faults aren’t always in its gameplay either, as its often a glitchy mess. At one point during the opening mission, a pickup truck vanished in to thin air, launching its mounted weapon in to the air in the process. My AI companions would walk through walls, shoot at nothing, or start twitching their heads about as they talked. Enemies would often walk through walls as well, somehow manage to pepper me with bullets while hiding behind obvious cover terrain, or explode in to the air when shot from the back of a moving vehicle. Things are also made worse as the game auto-saves frequently, which also happens to bring the game to a screeching halt in the process.
Overall, I had a hard enough time recommending Manhunter and its $5.00 price tag, and there is absolutely no way I could recommend Chernobyl Commando at double the cost. It’s only unique quality is the addition of mounted weapon combat, but it’s so poorly executed that it somehow made the game even worse, especially in combination with its constant glitches and terrible audio. It’s essentially the exact same game Silden released as Manhunter, using the exact same resources in a cheap attempt to cash in as a low cost FPS option. It’s never fun, and unless you can pick it up in some sort of bundle, I advise you to spend your money elsewhere. There are far better options for $10.00.
Recommended for fans of: Manhunter and mediocre FPS games.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling news, reviews and a bit of our public relations communications. He’s an aspiring writer and Baltimore native that can usually be found watching terrible B-movies or knee-deep in a roguelike, a horror game or some sort of point-and-click adventure. His favorite console is the Dreamcast, favorite game is the original Metroid, and he could watch The Goonies for the rest of his life. Contact him by e-mail at the address above, or follow his insanity on Twitter.