Secret Service puts the player in the shoes of a highly trained, eagle-eyed government agent. The Secret Service is a smart group of brave men, willing to take a bullet for the President should the situation call for it.
Secret Service the game however, makes them out to be total idiots. One would think not spotting a bunch of RPG-toting Mexican rebels in military fatigues during the President-Elect’s inauguration speech would be a failing of the unit.
That is how this obviously budget FPS starts, implausibly creating a scenario that in any reality would result in number of pink slips. Secret Service is the first game based around the unit protecting the President, and instead of creating a tense game detailing an assassination attempt, the developers chose to cater to the audience of Redneck Jamboree.
Even if you can accept the scenario, that of a lone agent tunneling underground the White House, blowing away countless rebels who also slipped past the lax security, what the game leaves is a disaster of design.
Take night vision. This tool lets the player (obviously) see into dark areas. The secondary purpose is to spot laser trip wares, which require deft movement to progress through. However, trip wires exist in random locations, including those in brightly lit areas.
In other words, the player must enter every room, turn on the night vision, look around, and then progress. There’s no sense or logic behind their locations. Worse, the goggles have a timer (or a battery apparently). Why? For realism in a game like this? All this does is force the player to sit around and wait for them charge in-between bouts of terrible first-person platforming and ducking.
Hacking, whether used for disarming bombs or using computer terminals, uses an impossibly irritating system of circuits and wires. It is used to slow the game down, or break from the generic shooting. Awful checkpoints could actually make the player re-do the hacking mini-game should they die. Adding to the frustration, even cinematics replay when Secret Service reloads the level, and there’s no way to skip them.
Audio glitches and dropouts are frequent, and controls stutter just as poorly. Reloading can take multiple button presses, and you’ll need to frequently given the waste of ammo due to the questionable collision detection. Aiming is loose and sloppy, spinning out of control with every full push of the analog stick. Playing with the sensitivity (which is set too low at the start) doesn’t help.
The game engine feels similar to that of Activision’s line of (also poor) History Channel games. They all suffer from the same array of problems, and while Secret Service performs the best of the four, it is by no means fun or playable.
If the real Secret Service performed their job this poorly, this country wouldn’t have any leaders left.