Speed kills. Consider this the big message of Terror Strike: Close Quarters Combat, a year-old tactical shooter (it hit Europe in early 2006 under the name of The Regiment) from Kuju Entertainment that revs up the terrorist-killing meme of Rainbow Six so much that it feels like a lethal biathlon. This certainly lends the proceedings a unique intensity, but ventilating tangos and rescuing hostages like some kind of Flash in army boots exposes serious holes in squad artificial intelligence, level design, and game mechanics. So all this breathtaking velocity really only serves to take you from "Hey, this is kind of a neat budget take on Tom Clancy" to "I want to throw my mouse through my monitor" at a breakneck pace.
If nothing else, the developer does stick close to the goal of accurately depicting lightning-quick British SAS raids to free hostages from the clutches of terrorists. Everything feels fairly authentic, even though the 1980 assault on the Iranian embassy in London is the only nonfictional scenario of the four included here. The other three--the Islamist bombing of the London underground, an IRA attack on a farm, and skinheads taking over parliament--feel a bit "gamey" due to the presence of huge armies of terrorist goons, but they still accurately convey the speed at which commandos have to work in hostage situations. Both the simulation and arcade difficulty settings seem realistic, too, especially the former, with its one-shot kills and lack of crosshairs. Video mission introductions add even more military atmosphere, as they're delivered by a grizzled ex-soldier type named only Mac, who sure seems to have seen it all before.
Don't mess with the SAS.
But there's a big difference between getting things done without messing around, and racing around like you're on fire and have got a plane to catch. Terror Strike forces you to sprint from one room to the next like Carl Lewis on speed through an airport, as dallying for even a few seconds usually gives terrorists time to execute a few hostages or destroy vital evidence on a computer. You're graded on the clock, too, so you lose more often than not even if you complete all of the specified goals. Ignoring these harsh rulings isn't an option, either, as missing the cut means that the following mission remains locked and you're stuck replaying the current one until you get everything pretty much perfect.
Missions come off more like races than typical tactical terrorist shooters, since you have to memorize threats like the curves of a track in order to steadily shave seconds off of your time. It's practically impossible to succeed in a mission during the first run-through, as you have to rush so quickly that you can't take the time to properly check all corners and avoid taking one in the face from a goon hidden behind a dresser or a filing cabinet. You generally run forward until you encounter a tough room and get killed, then start over and move ahead a little more before getting gunned down again, and then--well, you get the picture. Hello, trial and error. There is no way to save your progress during a mission, either, which further emphasizes the "get it right or do it again" racing atmosphere and really revs up the frustration factor.
Dumb teammates make getting it right a real challenge. Doors are the biggest issue. While you use a basic radial menu to give a few simple orders at closed doors, your buddies still frequently don't have a clue how to proceed. Call for an assault and your pals often just stand there, or tell you to "Shake your ass!" like you're blocking the way even though you're well clear of the door. They sometimes refuse to go through doors at all, which can be big trouble when facing a locked door that requires a full assault to smash down. Soldiers lag behind the main group, causing delays as you need a full squad to send assaults through doorways. And even when they respond to your command and charge on through, they can get messed up on the way in. They can throw a door open and jam you behind it. Or cram into the doorway and get stuck a la the Three Stooges. Or somehow wind up backing into a room and immediately get killed.