There aren't many action games in which using your brain is more important than squeezing that trigger finger. However, as a lone commando performing stealth operations deep in enemy territory, moving around without being detected becomes essential for survival.
Assault Trooper is an isometric stealth shooter that sends you to perform fifty missions in many exotic locations, such as Libya, North Korea, Afghanistan, and so on. At the beginning of the game you get to choose from only a few different missions in each location, but completing them will open new ones. The objectives vary from, for example, assassinating enemy officers to stealing important documents or rescuing hostages.
Before each trip you get to pick your own equipment from a list that offers several different types of firearms and explosives, a knife, a kevlar vest and so on. Even a flamethrower is an option. Since a commando has to be able to move fast, there is a weight limit for the amount of equipment you can take with you, and it depends on which of the four difficulty levels you've chosen.
Usually the best way to complete a mission is to sneak through the area without being detected by using bushes, rocks, buildings and other obstacles as cover. The enemy forces consist not only of soldiers, but also tanks, armoured boats and dogs (which are probably the hardest enemies of them all, as they're very difficult to hit). An interesting feature is the noise indicator that shows which directions you can hear movement from. There's also a map that helps you to navigate through the area.
The biggest problem with Assault Trooper is the graphics, which were already severely outdated when it came out in 1997, and these days they just look downright ugly. However, the graphics are functional and don't make the game unplayable, so they can be tolerated. One thing does bug me a bit, though: commandos don't usually wear blue in jungles, do they?
The game's sounds aren't anything impressive either, as they mainly consist of a few bangs and booms.
Where Assault Trooper truly shines is design and gameplay. The variety and the sheer number of missions increase the replay value, and since the commando can carry only a certain amount of equipment, you need to play tactically and - above all - carefully. The controls are fluid and intuitive, and even complete rookies can get the hang of them quickly.
The mission editor included is very easy to use, and it's the same one that was used for making the missions of the main campaign.
It's a real pity that Assault Trooper is such an unknown game. It is hardly surprising, though; when it came out, 3D games (Duke Nukem 3D, Tomb Raider) were so immensely popular that isometric shooters were pretty much ignored. The MicroProse classic Airborne Ranger has been the best stealth shooter ever since it was released, and Juha Kauppinen's Assault Trooper is definitely one of the few games that could have posed any challenge to it.
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