Secret Service Xbox 360 review

A first person shooter not worth putting on your shopping list...

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a real Secret Service agent, responsible for the life of the President? Dreamed about being Jack Bauer in 24? Well, keep on dreaming, as you won’t find your answers here.

I’m not going to beat around the bush; Secret Service is a perfect example of a sloppy and downright bland FPS. I’d say that it wants to be Call Of Duty, but to be honest, I don’t think it can be bothered.

The game casts you as Agent Pierce (a nod to 24’s Aaron Pierce, perhaps?) and takes place during the inauguration day of the next fictional US president. While escorting the former President on his tour around DC, a terrorist group attacks the Capital, and the former President takes a bullet, leaving Pierce and a couple of other agents as the only ones able to fight off the threat (quite where the legions of other agents and law enforcement are is never really explained). This isn’t the action of a small group of terrorists though, oh no. The shockingly clichéd “For El Presidente!”-shouting terrorists have somehow managed to sneak a veritable small national army into the city, complete with high grade weapons and unfeasibly large bombs (each the size of a vending machine).

After the initial attack on the President, you’re soon whisked off to the Capitol building where the aggressors have placed the aforementioned, economy-sized explosives, and have to disarm them before they blow. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Secret Service agents are very highly trained and good at their jobs, but disarming bombs, running around with rocket launchers? Surely this is a job for the FBI, or even the armed forces? I could be wrong, though.

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The game plays very much like a poor man’s CoD, and even includes some elements ripped directly from Infinity Ward’s epic, such as an identical onscreen compass, familiar controls and even, it seems, some copied animation and models (well, both games are published by Activision, so maybe there’s some asset sharing going on).

This may sound like a good thing – CoD was great after all – but in reality, it’s not. While CoD’s controls and general feel were dead on the money, here they feel sluggish, sloppy and generally loose. The sharpness of the aiming seen in CoD just isn’t present and all weapons just feel wrong, with no oomph. This gives the action a fake, empty feel. This is compounded by the almost AI-free foes, who, while able to duck behind cover, will often stand out in the open, creating an animated shooting gallery of sorts. Some will even run right up to you, placing themselves right in front of your sights. Clever.

The missions you’ll undertake also lack any and all of CoD’s atmosphere and intensity, and the story and characters are totally uninteresting. Even the initial assassination attempt – a scene that could be both exiting and dramatic – is a damp squib, and isn’t even played out in-game, and is presented in one of the game’s wire frame cut-scenes. Fail.

Each area you explore is a Halo-style copy and paste job of samey corridors and generic rooms, and the enemies you’ll fight are always the same identikit foes. Whatever your objective may be, your tasks will always simply involve shooting generic terrorist after generic terrorist, in often overly long segments that soon begin to grate due to the lack of any interesting encounters or events.

Some puzzle elements have been added in an attempt to break up the monotony, such as the computer ‘hacking’ minigame. This is a Pipe Mania-style affair in which you need to route power to chips on a circuit board. You’ll also need to disarm bombs, and to do so you’ll… need to route power to chips on a circuit board. Yes, there’s no cutting wires here, and apparently, if you can hack a computer you can also disarm a bomb, as the two tasks are identical. Lazy… lazy… lazy.

And this, dear readers, is Secret Service all over – a lazy and unimaginative effort. There’s simply nothing original or even slightly impressive here whatsoever, and every element has been cribbed from elsewhere, without even the slightest hint of an attempt to add any individual flair to make the game stand out. There’s not even a multiplayer option included, which, in today’s Xbox Live-heavy market is a major flaw.

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It’s FPS paint by numbers stuff, and it’s not particularly colourful either. Yes, it’s still better than tripe like Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty, and it is playable and solid enough technically, but after a few minutes, you just won’t care, and you’ll go back to CoD or any other FPS in your collection.


1 out of 5