The game “Clandestine” puts you in the mid 90s secret agent story with asymmetrical coop gameplay. A series of assassinations around the globe alerts the secrets agents and it is up to the field team of Katya Kozlova and Martin Symborski to reveal the truth. But not only the story is in the past, the gameplay is as well …
This game is a coop game. An asymmetrical coop game. That means that the roles players can pick are completely different. We have one field agent and one hacker. Both have a completely different playstyle.
The field agent is the role you should be most familiar with, hello Splinter Cell & Co. You have to sneak through restricted areas, avoid beeing seen by cameras and knock out guards to stay undetected. For you own support you have a (of course silenced) gun and a few other agent-toys to distract your opponents. You have to find certain objects to get behind all the murders … it really reminds of other stealth games. That is not a bad thing, the core mechanics are always the same it works here as good as it works in other titles.
The hacker, however, is different. He doesn’t operate on the field he stays at his computer and works from there. He can get access to all the technical stuff in the levels like cameras and other computers or spot enemies and other useful things. He can get passwords for the spy and open doors for him. He sneaks on the virtual level. It’s a game, so he basically sneaks on a virtual level of the virtual level. Spy and hacker have to work together to achieve their goal. The hacker turns down cameras and keeps an eye on all the guards while the spy reaches computers and gives the hacker access. Playing with a friend while using voice-chat is highly recommended. You can play alone and switch roles but it’s not that much fun.
Well, the fun part. A big problem is that the role of the hacker sounds really cool, but it sadly very very repetitive. All he has to to is turn down the camera the spy is close to and say the code so the spy can go on. The hacker can hack almost everything right at the beginning of a level and after that he watched the spy playing. There is not even a minigame for getting the passwords. There is a pacman-like minigame where your virus has to avoid the admin to catch you, but that is very easy and when you got the code you leave the “virtual place” and are save. Save to watch. The hacker-gameplay is a cool idea, but with hardly options for the hacker to interact with the other player and the world all the time it is not enough fun to play a whole game as the hacker.
The spy gameplay is fun, because it is an old working concept. Actually very old in gaming. It said in the beginning the not only the story is from the past. When I played “Clandestine” I felt like I was playing “Splinter Cell 1” again. And I don’t only mean the graphics, a smaller studio doesn’t have to apply the graphics of the new “Battlefront”. But even the gameplay, the levels, the objectives, everything. This game is on the same level as the first “Splinter Cell”, which came out in 2002. A great game, but nevertheless over 10 years old. And a decade in gaming is a lot. The basics are always the same and they are always fun. Sneaking through guarded areas, remaining undetected, all this has been and will be a cool core gameplay. But “Clandestine” only sticks to the core. There are so many ways to make this concept more interesting, lots of games came up with new ways to give a fresh stealth-experience. Today, knocking out guards and avoiding cameras is not enough. “Clandestine” has more than that of course, but sadly not much.
This game is a tribute to the good old stealth-games, but simple gameplay mechanics and looks were because of the technical standards of this time. In 2015 there are lots of new possibilities and there are enough other stealth games out there for comparison. “Bringing back the good old times” is not an excuse for putting less detail into the looks and gameplay, especially when you don’t just want to sell it as a small indie-title for 10 bucks. I loved “Splinter Cell 1” and that’s why I had fun playing “Clandestine”. But when I have to decide, I wouldn’t pick the first “Splinter Cell” again, but the new ones.