With Half-Life 2 imminent, it's a bad time to be any other FPS, especially if you're a shooter like Shadow Ops: Red Mercury - a game so basic that you could play it in your sleep.
Yet strangely, it's quite entertaining. Okay, so the plot's hackneyed and derivative - a terrorist wants to blow up the world with a small, yet deadly nuclear weapon and you have to stop him - but the frenetic gameplay and non-stop mayhem make for an entertaining diversion from loftier pursuits.
For the most part, Red Mercury is akin to a moving shooting gallery, as you and your two ineffectual squad mates bulldoze your way through endless droves of cannon fodder enemies. Level design is kept basic, with red barrels filled with the most explosive substance on earth (computer game barrel filler) conveniently placed near clusters of enemies, just waiting to be blown up.
The game simply sweats testosterone, an unceasing barrage from beginning to end of manly bravado. The guns and explosions are never-ending, though the odd token stealth mission is thrown in. Keep your expectations low, and you'll probably find you'll have a few short hours of fun along the way.
The music and sound effects are excellent, though the former is blatantly ripped off from the The Rock (the film with Nic Cage, not the wrestler), with a modicum of James Bond thrown in for good measure.
It's basic, it's clichéd, it's blokey... oh, and it's expensive and short, but Shadow Ops: Red Mercury is still a hoot. If you're after a brainless gun-fest with plenty of blowing-up, give it a few months and see if you can pick it up on the cheap.