Every E3, there's a few games that slip in under the radar, not being hyped and recognized. Tucked away in one of the corners of E3 2009, was a little gem of a game called Raven Squad, a First Person Shooter/Real Time Strategy hybrid from SouthPeak interactive.
In Raven Squad, you control a squad of mercenaries who get shot down over a civil conflict in the jungles of the Amazon in the year 2011. Neither side of the war wants you there. You and your squad of six are stranded and must fight their way out of the hot zone. This won't be easy.
On first glance, Raven Squad appears to be a standard RTS game. Upon closer inspection however, nothing could be further from the truth. When viewed from a bird's eye view of the action, you control one of two squads at a time. The blue coloured squad is the primary squad, and has the heavy weapons like machine guns, rocket launchers, and grenades. The yellow squad consists of support, and have similar abilities. When playing the single player game, you will be able to switch from squad to squad on the fly, but the real fun begins when you get a friend online to take control of another squad.
So while moving your squads to cover and picking out enemies on the map as red diamonds, the real hook comes when you shift to first person mode. If you want to ignore the whole strategy aspect and just play the game like a shooter with a strategic slant, you are given that option as well. The first person mode controls well and has some satisfyingly visceral action.
The game will also feature a number of vehicles for your destruction needs as well.
In order to get the intense firefights and seamless RTS and FPS transitions, it's obvious a few graphical sacrifices had to be made. Raven Squad is by no means an ugly game, but it certainly doesn't stand up to the heavy hitters on either the Xbox or PC platforms. The biggest visual problem is probably the jungle foliage has a jaggy quality to it that looks a little weak. On the plus side, the characters are all very well animated, and there is some impressive lighting on display as well. The game also ran very smoothly.
Raven Squad is looking every bit the hidden gem of E3, and we were very impressed with the smooth hybrid gameplay. Expect eight to ten hours of gameplay this fall for the Xbox 360 and PC.