Summary: Don't let the low price fool you, this game is ok; I'd give it a B-. If you ever want a break from the usual modern FPS format, this is an option that's just as entertaining, but in its own way. This game challenges the player; not always fairly, but usually so. The health meter is a welcome change from being able to recharge health by waiting under cover. Your weapons will sound a bit silly, but they get the job done. This is a game with a realistic setting, non-stop action (except for the shooting ranges) and despite its low price, it's visuals are as breathtaking as any modern game.
First, let's talk about the choice of genre: the rail shooter. It's an older style, but age in itself doesn't determine quality. We live in a time where first person shooters are legion, and most operate very similarly. If you ever want a break from that, one option is to try an older style. Would it be more exciting in an arcade cabinet? Yes, and if you tried playing this with an Xbox controller you would have a horrible experience. But as you get past the middle of the game, it gets tough, and if you want to beat the game, you couldn't do it in an arcade cabinet. A mouse and keyboard are the best way to go for this. If you spray and pray in this game, you will get hit even if you kill the enemy. But if you take advantage of the precision a mouse provides, you can get out from cover and have a fair chance of killing him without taking a hit. The difficulty may shock and tick you off if you're used to games where you can press a button to stick to cover and shoot at your enemy without exposing yourself, which is no challenge at all. In my opinion, a quality shooter of any kind is one where you have to make your own cover and get out from behind it to engage an enemy, and this game fills that requirement.
And yes, I said difficulty. Some reviewers claim that this game is as easy as Whack-A-Mole. Maybe they're the god-like, all-day snipers of Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat who cause normal mortals like me to stop playing those games out of having no chance of scoring a point. Maybe they only played the console version. Or maybe they only played the first level on normal mode, because the further I get through this game, the more that claim confuses me. The enemy can shoot back, and sometimes there will be little to no pause between the shots of one enemy and the next, making it almost impossible to break cover and shoot back without getting hit. It makes the grenades like precious gems, because they're the best way to clear enemies that won't hardly let you stick your head up. This game does challenge the player; not always fairly, but usually so. Then there are levels where you get in an Abrams tank or an Apache attack helicopter, where the enemy can't do an opium-picking thing to you, and the main challenge then is hitting everything and doing it fast, because you're always on the move.
Then there's the realism factor. Criticisms are: shoot an enemy anywhere and he dies, we're back to health meters and health packs, and the guns are just plain silly. To be fair, the rifles and pistol certainly are silly, and there's no good reason to spend an upgrade point on a new rifle, because nothing changes. Save it for extra ammo, health, grenades and faster reload time. The guns look highly detailed, but the player's small arms sound like Robotron fighting Megaman in the middle of a disco. The guns of your allies and enemies sound much better, and so do weapons mounted on vehicles. As for health meters and single shot kills, a health meter and health packs are much more realistic than many shooters where you just have to crawl under a rock and wait five seconds for all your wounds to heal, and single hit kills are more realistic than needing to put two rounds into a target's head or five into his chest. Think of the ArmA games: no mercy from bullets. I welcome the health meter back with open arms.
Now for the story. The problems that you can't escape from are the sloppy syntax and prose in this game, mainly in the journal entries before the missions. If you're thinking "This doesn't sound anything like a Marine, or any English speaker", then that's because this game was made by Teyon, a Polish video game developer. This is not the first game to have translation problems, but they could have done better on the journal entries (although the radio chatter in mid-battle sounds authentic). There are some other inaccuracies: the uniforms are Army uniforms and not Marine uniforms, and the Marines do not use the Black Hawk or the Chinook. As for the content, it doesn't deserve the hate that it gets from the politically correct about being a game in a real setting like Operation Enduring Freedom. Nobody has a problem with all the games set in the Second World War, where just about every side can be played as. Spec Ops: The Line, where your main enemies are American soldiers, has gotten a pass, so there's no ground to stand on when ridiculing this game for being from a modern American soldier's point of view. If you ask me, gamers could do with a healthy, even if unpleasant, dose of reality in their lives. Instead of trying to make some idiotic moral equivalence between the US and its foes, this game is based on authentic characters. The Marines are experts and professionals, who pull out all the stops to complete their mission with as few casualties as possible. The game punishes the player for friendly fire and civilian casualties, as it should if it wants to be taken seriously. The game doesn't name the enemy, it calls them “rebels”, but if you don't know who they really are, you must be living under a rock. They are portrayed accurately as well: they wear civilian clothes, take civilians hostage and hide behind them, and know no limits as to where they will fight from. Although the places and times of the battles aren't exact representations of real life, the concepts are real enough: combined arms battles in environments like mountains, small villages, big cities, and military bases. If you want something more varied and fantastic, then play Mass Effect or something.
Finally, I believe the game's greatest strength is in its visuals. They stand with the best of modern games. You could only get a better picture of the Afghan combat environment from a TV camera or actually visiting it. Every pocket of a uniform, every feature of a vehicle or weapon, and every contour of a building is superb. You have to deal with the very real problem of natural and artificial light in a battle, meaning it gets in your eyes. In an age where graphics are as advanced as they are, it might not seem like such a big deal that the game has excellent visuals, but how about when it has them and is selling for $5 on Steam? Now that's a cut apart, isn't it?
In the end, while it may not be my favorite game of all time, it was still a worthwhile purchase that I recommend.