I first played this title when it originally came out and was disappointed by the gameplay. Stopped playing at level 12. I became bored as others have mentioned, when the action became fairly repetative, that was playing the game on medium setting.
But that was a mistake, because I recently returned to it and played it right through on Veteran difficultly level. On this setting, the game becomes a very different kettle of fish. The AI becomes much better at co-ordinating its attacks. While tougher enemies means more planning is required, to overcome the enemies between you and your objective. As such, mistakes are not so easily forgiven. Equipment availability becomes much less. All this combines to provide much more of a challenge. The variety of missions changes as you meet up with Val the heroine of the game. Keeping her alive, giving her time to activate equipment, are just some of the different challenges in the latter part of the game. Level maps too, become more cleverly designed adding to the challenge. Especially, the boat riding ones.
Graphics may be a littled dated, but the forest and foilage effects are still more than convincing as you move through them. However, interiors are bland, only serving minimal purpose. The thermal imaging camera view in later levels is top notch though and also provides another level of tactical planning, to now when to use them and when to save the battery. Weapons are nothing amazing, but all add to the game experience and there are enough loadout configurations to choose from, and make everyone happy. I dont usually like sniper rifles as I like to get my hands dirty, but you will definitely need it to remove some difficult adversaries and I found it required equipment in the latter third of the game. And it has a satisfying clunk to it.
Cutscene narration adds some sense of story, but for most of the time these can be ignored until you meet up with Val when the mission types start to get more narrow, promising to unravel more of the background story. Which isn't anything spectacular, but still very good.
Overall, while I was disappointed with the first 1/2 of the game,
twice playing to around level 10-12...., I at last managed to get past the repeitive gameplay and onto the latter stages. It is these later levels that provide a real challenge to your tactical awareness, planning, reactions and ammunition conservation. Especially towards the end.... with some really hellish levels. :)
A thouroughly enjoyable experience, with a very capable AI, excellent level design for the most part and a decent story with a hint of SF. All combined with a great sound and snappy soundtrack and a still very good graphics engine.
Review difficulty based on VETERAN level. 1 below max (REALISTIC).