Developed by Polish based Metropolis Software (Archangel, Gorky 17 makers), Gorky Zero is a stealth-based tactical action game, that takes place in secret post-Soviet laboratories in Ukraine. To be more exact, Gorky Zero is a prequel to Gorky 17, released several years ago as Odium in the US. The game takes place a few years before famous Gorky 17 events and the main hero is called Cole Sullivan, whom some of you may already know from the Gorky 17.
Just like in the other game, the story and many events have their roots in the Soviet past of the region. Also this time Cole Sullivan has to deal with a case that should never see the light of the day. Based on intelligence reports out of the former Soviet Union, rumors are spreading that a mysterious and dangerous sect can deprive people of their own personality and turn them into obedient human robots, to misuse them for terroristic means. The European Union decides to put an end to these misdoings and briefs Cole Sullivan to make this mission a success. After infiltrating a secret laboratory, formerly used by Soviet military research, and set on the task to destroy the operations there, Cole Sullivan discovers more and more of the real truth behind his mission. The evidence he uncovers tells a story that is different from the version he is being told by his superiors. A merciless war begins - and it's a matter of life or death.
The gameplay in Gorky Zero is viewed from both first and third person perspectives. In third person mode, the camera is fixed in a relatively high position above and behind you. This mode is used for walking, running and sneaking around, as well as for interacting with the environment (i.e. searching bodies, looking through containers, operating equipment, opening doors). The first person mode allows you more precise aiming, as the camera is placed directly behind you and a crosshair. However, in this "action mode" you automatically crouch, so you can only move at a crawl, which means you will usually navigate in third person mode. Needless to say the first-person view is pretty strange and rather annoying, as it doesn't even allow for much of the surrounding area to be seen.
Gorky Zero feature eight huge missions, 3 difficulty levels, a variety of weapons like pistols, automatic rifles, shotguns and sub-machine guns, as well as special gadgets like radar scanner and a PDA that stores information and sounds/conversations you have heard. You have a radar device to help you orientate in the field. The radar indicates the positions of all enemies who are relatively close to you. That very device is also meant to help you in finding out whether you are followed by the guards or whether the guards are simply performing their duties and patrolling routes in a given area. Unfortunately, the AI, critical in this type of game, is ridiculously inadequate. Stealth games are really good fun to play, but they gotta sort the AI exactly right or short falls really ruin the atmosphere.
Mission objectives are more or less identical to that of Metal Gear Solid, or Splinter Cell. The objective changes from infiltrate the base, bombing the basement to getting your communicator back. Objectives are briefed to you through some kind of comm. Link and can be brought back up easily as text with the use of the [TAB] key. At the end of an assignment, the game provides you with statistics related to your performance, including how many enemies you slayed, the number of silent kills, how many alarms you tripped during the mission and so on.
Overall, Gorky Zero seems to be a game that should have come out a few years ago. With dated graphics, weak AI and a disappointing single-player experience, this game just doesn't cut the mustard. I cannot in good conscience recommend this game.
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Minimum: Intel Pentium III 400 MHz or compatible, 128MB RAM, DirectX 8.1 compatible graphics card 16MB RAM, CD-ROM, 500 MB hard drive space
Recommended: Intel Pentium III 800 MHz or compatible, 256MB RAM, DirectX 8.1 compatible graphics card 32MB RAM