Taking the First Person Shooter to new Heights.

The PC games market is fickle and very unforgiving of most genres these days; gameplay has been mostly sacrificed for bigger and better eye-candy. Take the first person shooter for example. There are hundreds of clones of the genre out there, nothing that wholly stands out from the crowd. Soldier of Fortune was good, don't get me wrong, but it was let down by a lack of variety in the missions, you never really felt as though you were the kick-ass John Mullins. It was another game with big guns and gore. Project IGI is set to change all this.

You are Jones an ex SAS soldier who has been charged with the capture of a stolen US Nuclear weapon and must embark on a series of well thought out and challenging missions to stop a potentially dangerous global disaster. But do you feel like Jones? The answer gratifyingly in this case is...Oh yes.

I booted up the game after a lengthy install and prepared to take on the challenge of the first mission. The graphics were eye-catching enough to begin with, the storyline started with a nice cut-scene, with enough attention to detail to keep my interest throughout. Jones was well voiced and slightly dour, a nice touch. The game kicked off with our hero armed with a knife...and a few other weapons, my favourite the Mp5, silenced too. Because in IGI you have the option of stealth...

You heard me, Stealth. Make too much noise and you can bring the whole base of guards on your position, who are accurate and deadly with their guns. Trip the cameras and the alarms start blaring, bringing reinforcements from barracks and local areas. This really adds to the feel of being a stealthy soldier.

The levels, are well designed and look and feel real, there are high water-towers (Excellent Sniper Spots) and seamless interiors, buildings have just enough detail to make them feel real. There are also security cameras that can be either shot out, or bypassed for a few minutes. By hacking.

IGI also handles Ladders with a great degree of success and proves that the designers and programmers have listened to us whine about Quake style climbing. Walk up to a Ladder and a small icon lights up showing the object can be interacted with, a tap of the action button and Jones does his thing, you can then move him up or down, free to rotate the camera as the view switches to 3rd person. Allowing you to see if enemies are about. There's nothing more degrading than being shot off a ladder while you climb to the top, learn as I did to love this feature.

Coming down ladders is especially fun as the team have added a nice touch, if you stop on the ladder, don't move, and tap action again, rather than falling off Jones locks his hands and feet around the ladder and slides all the way to the bottom, again giving you that Bond feeling. Which was sadly lacking in most of the FPS that I have played.

I never got the chance to play Goldeneye.

With enough ladders, rope-slides and tricks IGI really excels in bringing to life the feeling of being alone in the enemy base. Take the cameras for instance, you reach a computer terminal and hit action, the whole thing is real time, so you have to keep action down, 3rd person camera engages and shows you the time it takes to complete the task. You can again rotate the camera and look all around, useful for keeping an eye on things. Task completed, you are informed the cameras are offline for 2 minutes or so.

I could go on about this for the rest of the review but instead it's time to talk about the graphics and the various elements of the game.

IGI is not your typical first person shooter, the graphics are excellent, the animation of the main characters and the enemies, superb, coupled with their fantastic 3d engine, which can render obscene distances with no slowdown, on a Celeron 500 w/128mb Ram, Voodoo 3. Serves to bring to life the murky world of covert-ops.

I cannot begin to explain the feeling of climbing a mountain, which seemed in the distance, after running for at least 15 minutes of real time. It took my breath away I can tell you. Grey clouds scudded across a realistic sky, and the texture and shade of the far off peaks faded into mist. Rain pattering down over. I switched to my binoculars and looked again, it was wonderful seeing the world come alive as I slowly zoomed in. I felt as though I was there.

And that's the key. When you look through the scope of the Sniper Rifle in the game, and zoom right in, from a far off place, you get the feeling of power that Snipers must feel. At one point in the game Jones actually says.

"So I get to be God?"

When he's chosen to be a Sniper on a mission.

Just part of IGI's charm and attention to detail.

Sounds are also top notch, the guns sound real enough and the enemy's calls as you are discovered are particularly frightening as they start shooting. Your adrenaline surges and you run for cover, bullets spanging off metal crates or ripping through wooden walls.

Yes, that's right, bullets rip through the wood like they would in real life, I had a shock when I went for cover behind a wall which was wooden, only to have hole after hole appear in it, and then me.

Wonderful stuff.

Overall Project IGI is a great game coupled with some top-notch visuals and programming techniques. Real attention to detail has been paid with the various in game elements and it's obvious that the programmers are committed to bringing to life the feeling of the covert ops shooter. And I love them for it. I would recommend this game to fans of the FPS in general. It installs out of the box with no trouble, it runs on my machine with no trouble and looks great in 800*600. I will leave you all to explore the finer details of this great game, and discover how evil the AI can be if you alert them. Congratulations to Innerloop for the game, and Eidos for having the sense to nab this one for their product line.

It is a game that you'd want to play again and again just to see how quiet you can be on each part of the mission. Infinitely playable and enjoyable, specially when you grab a Sniper Rifle and find a high-spot.

The only thing that let it down was a lack of an in mission save feature, but then again without it, you need to be extra careful.