Ubersoldier

Unterdeveloped.

Ubersoldier's Nazi-icon themes and lavish level design put it well ahead of many of its fellow low-budget shooters. Someone on the Burut team has a real flair for pseudo-occult Nazi science, as well as for creating grim facades of a burnt-out 1940s Europe. In places it's really quite beautiful, with intricate textures, gloomy, brooding architecture as well as some decently animated and beautifully modelled evildoers to populate it.

There are even a few action sequences in which Ubersoldier aims quite high - including some where you have half a dozen people with you to fight through a townscape, a little like the 'Follow Freeman' chapter towards the end of Half-Life 2. Some of these sequences are quite entertaining, and the game does at least know how to make a machinegun hiss and spit with satisfying weightiness.

Ubersoldier is set within an alternate universe in which the most outlandish of reported Nazi experiments are real, and where resistance fighters of central Europe are the ones fighting the true fight for freedom. You are a dead German soldier brought into a Nazi laboratory to live again as an enhanced killer-slave. This is where things break down a little, since you are immediately fed the most contrived plot device you've probably ever seen in a game: you've been programmed by a Nazi scientist and therefore you must do what you are ordered to do by the first person who gives you an order after you wake up. Naturally enough that's not a Nazi commander, but a young female rebel (shades of Alyx) who happens to burst into your cell at the time of waking up.

1

If only we could talk to the Nazis.

Once out of the hospital (the muddled translation making it a 'psychopathic hospital', rather than a psychiatric hospital) you are ordered to join the rebels. By this point you'll be ready for a game in which you are going to witness some of the worst voice acting of the 21st century. Lines are delivered with wrong inflection, random German scientists have the voice of Bournemouth Colonels, and all the Germans who do actually have German accents are hammy in the extreme. Worse still is the fact that one line follows the next without any real recourse to logic. It's savagely broken, with lots of meaningless asides and some completely out of context remarks made by various characters. The discussion between the rebel leaders is one of the most bizarre exchanges I've witnessed between the non-drunk. It's a relief when the conclusion comes: "To Czechoslovakia!"

But all this is background, and what really matters is that you are an 'uber' soldier who has been given super powers by the Nazi madmen. This comes as quite a surprise (as I'm sure it would to anyone who had just woken up after a fatal car crash) and it results in almost entirely incongruous consequences in-game. You discover, via the gift of annoying tutorial pop-ups, that you can create a 'time-shield'. This is a large blue force-field that captures enemy bullets and then fires then back at them. It's completely bizarre and doesn't really fit with the rest of the game, but it's nevertheless a useful tool, making the hard bits of Nazi resistance a little easier. You charge towards packs of shootists and slice them up with their own bullets. Easy, as long as you do it before the power runs out.

2

Kill Hitler for hi-score! (Not really).

General gun combat itself isn't without bursts of fun. The enemy AI is a little random, but they do run and hide and use cover to a small degree. There are plenty of scripted entrances for the bad guys, who regularly lie in wait or come crashing through windows. You can also resort to knife combat, which is fairly dangerous, but offers you the chance to redeem some health, through unexplained means of blood-lust vampirism, or something. There are also obligatory turret sequences and other asides that seem mandatory in the feature lists of contemporary shooters.

Of course this all creates strong whiffs of the conveyor-belt death-grind. Kill, next! Kill, next! Despite the fireworks it's easy to get bored, and easy to get frustrated - too many of the scenarios lead to instant death, or are simply rather laborious to quick-save your way through. Much of what you'll do is simply based around rushing the enemy with your force-field and letting the captured bullets kill the baddies, or moving from pillar to post as you pick off one unsuspecting body after the next.

So there is fun to be had here, at least if you are, for some reason, obsessed with Nazi iconography and the kind of alternate universe that was first cooked up by Return To Castle Wolfenstein. Just don't expect quality, consistency, coherence, or any kind of worthy challenge to the head muscle, or the trigger finger.

5 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy Ubersoldier Jim Rossignol Unterdeveloped. 2006-03-25T07:30:00+00:00 5 10 Follow Eurogamer.net on Steam to get more PC game recommendations

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