When a game you never heard of before launches at a bargain price of $19.99, you have to approach it with equal parts optimism and caution. It might be good, but it also might be really horrible. The $20 price tag tempts you with its siren song of Why buy Halo 2 or Ghost Recon 2 for $50 when you can get Combat Task Force 121 for $20?. Then, bam, your ship crashes into the rocks. Actually, Combat: Task Force 121 isnt really a bad game but it isnt anything you havent already seen on Xbox.
Combat: Task Force 121 is a first-person-shooter that is solid but very underwhelming. It takes the very basics of FPS gameplay movement, shooting, grenades and does them acceptably well, but it doesnt do anything beyond the basics. There was no effort to innovate and the result is a bare bones experience where you have seen and done everything before.
Weapon balance and level design are also detrimental to the overall experience. There are only six guns in the game along with some C4 explosives, grenades, and a combat knife. The guns are the typical pistol, assault rifle, SMG, sniper rifle and shotgun that you would expect. The problem is that while the shotgun in usually a one-hit kill, the other weapons seem to take an unusually large number of shots to get the job done. Level design furthers the weapon problems because the levels are mostly made up of tight corridors which dont allow you to really use the weapons to their full potential since shotguns+narrow corridors=why would you use any other weapons? The sniper rifle is also practically worthless because there arent any good sniping spots in the levels.
Multi and Single-Player
The main focus of Combat:Task Force 121 is multiplayer both online and offline against bots. You can play free for all and team versions of capture the flag, deathmatch, king of the hill, and last man standing along with a game called VIP Escort where one player is the VIP and their team has to safely get them to a safe zone. There are different class types to choose from including soldiers, close-quarters, demolitions, heavy-weapons, and snipers. Like I mentioned above, though, the level design really limits the multiplayer experience. The lack of weapons and customization options really make CTF 121 feel old and outdated. There are a ton of great shooters on the Xbox that play far better than this in multiplayer.
There is also a single-player mode, but it is clear it is more a training mode for multiplayer than a full solo experience. There is a collection of brief missions that are mostly of the get from point A to point B and find a keycard in between style that are too simple and boring to really be fun. You can also play multiplayer matches against bots if you dont have Xbox Live, but playing against humans is definitely the way to go if you have a choice.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics in Combat: Task Force 121 are fairly mediocre. The textures are simple and muddy looking and it gives the levels a really bland and boring look. There are only a handful of character models, none of which look all that good, and the animation is none too pretty either.
Sound is one area that is actually quite impressive in CTF 121. The music isnt very impressive, what little of it there is, but the sound effects and voice work are great. The guns are incredibly loud and realistic sounding and really great. Most games dont get the volume of things such as gunfire or engines and things like that even close to right but the gunfire in Combat: Task Force 121 is spot on.
Good sound doesnt save the mediocre graphics and mediocre everything else, though, so there isnt too much to celebrate here.
Combat: Task Force 121 doesnt try to break the mold or do anything new and different and that is ultimately its biggest problem. You have seen and done all of this before so there is really no reason to suffer through what CTF 121 has to offer. Its not even that the game is all that bad, but it simply cant compare to other Xbox Live shooters. I cant really recommend Combat: Task Force 121 for a purchase, but for under $20 you dont have much to lose if you do decide to check it out. Rent it or buy it on the cheap, just dont expect too much from it.