As games became more complex, different genres started form. With these hybrid genres were born the likes of the Action/RPG and Puzzle/Platformer. Another hybrid we've seen is the First Person Shooter/RTS Hybrid, but sadly there's been an aspect lacking in these types of games: co-op. Raven Squad is just such a game that allows players to live life on the battle field in first person, or have an eye in the sky controlling their squad in an RTS style view.
Raven Squad is the story of two squads stranded in the Amazon jungle in 2011. They find themselves caught in the middle of a war, and the only way to get themselves out is to join in on the action. Players control the Assault and/or Infiltration squads, each squad with their own crew of three soldiers. Every soldier has a primary and special weapon, with only their special weapon limited by ammo which may be picked up at various crates around the maps. Weapons range from sub machine guns, AK-47's, shotguns to rocket launchers, M249-SAWs, and special grenade types.
While you directly control one character in FPS view, the RTS view allows easy squad control for calling up anyone's special weapons at anytime. Switching between the views can be done at anytime simply by pressing Y, though there are times that the RTS view isn't available due to certain story constraints. There's around ten missions to play through as you weave your way through the story, and each mission is broken up by cut scenes with some of the worst voice acting since the original House of the Dead. Seriously, this stuff is horrendous, it's almost offensive it's so bad.
The co-op campaign is identical to the single player, though you can choose to start at any mission you want - even ones you haven't played. You're still greeted with the same painful cutscenes, which are skippable if both players agree. For the love of all that is holy skip the cut scenes if your partner wants to, do not subject them to more voice overs. With that out of the way what you are presented with is actually a pretty unique opportunity. In the sessions I played I typically liked to stay in RTS view and call out incoming enemies and objectives to my partner. It's a luxury you are rarely afforded in other games, so it's definitely nice. So while he was down in the trenches mowing down enemies in first person, I had my squad cover and called out the oncoming rushes of bad guys. One downside to the co-op mode on the 360 is the lack of achievements for progress completion, though some of the unique objective ones may still be earned. That means completing the game in co-op doesn't actually credit you with beating it on either platform.
Even on the hardest difficulty Raven Squad is a relative cake walk in co-op mode. Even if a squad member dies it's easy enough to revive them, and the ammo and health is plentiful enough that it rarely becomes an issue. The AI is pretty poor, usually getting stuck behind buildings and other objects, and they tend to group up for an easy grenade execution. I'm pretty sure a mouse in a maze could find its way to you more easily than the AI. Still, like any co-op experience there's fun to be had with friends here, even if it's just laughing at what's going on in the game world.
Evolved Games claims to have taken influence from numerous 80's movies like Predator, Commando and other over the top flicks with Raven Squad's story and characters. Unfortunately that's never something I actually felt, and I think unintentionally it reminded me of Hot Shots. A few more months of development could have helped the game immensely, not to mention a complete reworking of the voice acting. Seriously people, I know some guys - call me next time.