Free to Play Report: Tactical Intervention
Welcome to the Free-to-Play Report! This is a regular feature where I download a free-to-play game and play enough to get the gist of it. I’ll relay my adventures and misadventures to you, the reader. Hopefully by the end of the report, you’ll be able to tell if the game is worth the free download or not.
Counter-Strike is one of my favorite franchises ever. I’ve been through 1.6, Source, and now Global Offensive, and had a blast the whole way. So when I learned about Tactical Intervention and how it was created by Counter-Strike co-founder Minh “Gooseman” Le, it piqued my interest. Released on Steam in October of 2013, it is boasted as the “spiritual successor” the Counter-Strike, one of the greatest first person shooters of all time. After playing it for a bit, I can already tell this is far from the truth.
So How Was It?
Perhaps it was because I was using beginner weapons, but every gun I tried in the game didn’t seems very tactical at all. I found myself just spraying at others players, randomly trying to score a hit. I would definitely not compare the gun handling to a tight shooter like Counter-Strike. However, the chaos of it all does have a certain appeal, and if the game didn’t claim that it was a spiritual successor to Counter-Strike, I wouldn’t have complained as much.
The community experience is somewhat limited. There is voice chat in the game, but I saw it rarely used. Game modes requiring teamwork suffer because of this. The few people I witnessed using voice chat were mostly toxic: many of them spammed their microphones mercilessly. Thankfully, there is a mute option available. The skill curve isn’t something to worry about, as you can literally buy better weapons with real money, but more on that later. The starting guns are okay, but are definitely inferior to the shop weapons. Sometimes it’s hard to determine whether an opponent is better than you, or if they just bought a better gun than yours.
Graphically, the game looks like it was made sometime between the release of the original Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source. It does use some form of the Source engine, but doesn’t look like a game released in 2013. This could be the low-budget nature of the game, or some sort of engine limitation, but I’ve seen much better looking free-to-play games. One thing that I want to point out might just be a problem for me, but the gun models seem huge. They take up a lot of the screen, and make it difficult to see enemies, especially when you are reloading.
There are your standard Team Deathmatch and Search and Destroy game modes, along with a few unique modes mixed in. One game mode I played was a VIP mission. where my teammates and I were all in a car and told to protect the VIP. It was definitely the most chaotic FPS match I’ve experienced, almost too chaotic. It was fun driving at high speeds and leaning out the car, trying to hit the other team.
How Free Is It?
Tactical Intervention deploys one of my least favorite micro-transaction strategies. They allow you to rent weapons from their item shop, either with in-game currency or real money. This strategy is sadly used by many free-to-play shooters, and Tactical Intervention has all the standard features. You are able to rent items for a few days, but then it will disappear from your inventory unless you renew it. You are also able to buy the gun outright, but that gets pretty expensive. I was able to hold my own with the starter weapons, but I often felt that other players simply had superior firepower. As a free-to-play gamer, I can see how someone would struggle to make enough in-game currency to buy a gun without dipping into their real-life wallet.
Tactical Intervention makes a valiant attempt to bring back old-school Counter-Strike for free, but ultimately I would recommend people to just purchase one of the four variations of Counter-Strike. You would probably spend less money in the long run that way. I sympathize with the developers, monetizing a free-to-play shooter is probably a daunting task, where it is impossible to not offend anyone. However, I think there needs to be a more consumer-friendly approach, not this rental system.