Is there any thought more frightening to an American than the thought of another massive terrorist attack on US soil? Absolutely: the prospect of having to play through Patriots: A Nation Under Fire. This budget-priced first-person shooter creates a nightmare scenario of a massive, countrywide terrorist attack that leaves many major cities destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and the remaining populace under siege by masked guys with guns and unplaceable, threatening-sounding accents. It then piles on the nightmare by encumbering you with intensely clumsy cover mechanics, a level of challenge that borders on unfair, and absentminded artificial intelligent cohorts who make fantastic bullet shields but aren't useful for much else.
This is the most realistic National Guard behavior you'll ever see.
Patriots starts out with a lengthy narration sequence explaining how terrorists basically popped up out of nowhere and started blowing stuff up. Not that you'd necessarily expect taut, captivating fiction from a budget title, but that block of narration is about as much story as you'll ever get out of the game. Evidently you play as a blank-slate National Guardsman who's been called in to the local armory to suit up, only to find it overrun with terrorists. From there, you take on a series of almost totally unrelated missions until the terrorists have been bested or you've given up and uninstalled the game. For sanity's sake, the latter is probably the smarter option.
Even on the easiest difficulty level, it becomes clear early on in Patriots that a certain a certain amount of patience is required to survive. The number of terrorists the game starts throwing at you as soon as you exit the armory is insane. Apparently, every terrorist in the world got together and formed some kind of supergroup, because the numbers you'll end up killing over the course of the game are staggering. At the very least, you can't call these enemies dumb. Save for a few dummies who stand around vacantly just waiting for you to shoot them, the majority of these guys know how to grab cover and are crack shots, so unless you can find cover immediately, you're hosed.
And therein lies the comedy, as the game's cover mechanics are woefully inadequate. The game places plenty of abandoned vehicles and random crates around its stages for you to cower behind, but there are no covering mechanics beyond a cover toggle. You press it to duck, and press it again to stand back up. You can't look out from cover to shoot, blind fire, or do anything that might be considered, you know, tactical. Your best bet in most cases is to just wait until the AI soldiers on your side of the fight kill off as many of the nearby terrorists as they can before they're inevitably murdered (AI good guys know how to kill--just not how to avoid being killed), then quickly run to the next objective point. AI soldiers seem to endlessly respawn until you've completed each mission objective (in many cases, to rescue defenseless hostages who tend to get shot rather easily), so standing around and killing guys is less useful than just trying to run away and avoid getting shot while blasting any enemy that gets within five feet of you.