Have You Played… Tactical Ops?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Counter-Strike became so popular so quickly – even the mod was soon bigger than all retail multiplayer shooters combined – that the entire industry seemed to spend a year or two simply producing similar games. Remember Global Operations? Remember Strike Force? Remember Tactical Ops? I do, I played a dozen of these, and Tactical Ops for Unreal Tournament was probably the best of the bunch.

What began as simply adding realistic weapons to Unreal Tournament-style maps slowly transformed, iteration to iteration, into a more robust realistic experience. Eg, it added maps with lots of shipping crates. It also retained some of the physics of its base game, but those were already a more natural fit for this kind of game than Quake 3’s physics were for its equivalent mods.

Otherwise it didn’t stray far from its inspiration: it was round based; there was a buying phase for picking up weapons and armour at the start of each round; you collected money for downing enemies; and there were objectives such as planting bombs and rescuing hostages; the mod eventually received a retail release in 2002.

I struggle to remember now why I put so many hours into Tactical Ops when I could have, would have, been playing Counter-Strike so much already, but I have strong memories of doing so. Mostly while watching new episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on BBC 2.


  1. Elliot Lannigan says:

    I don’t remember this one but I have very fond memories of Infiltration for Unreal Tournament, which was pretty much the same idea, and had pretty fantastic levels, character and weapon designs for being a free mod. It was also probably a bit more realisticer than a direct Counterstrike clone, and was doing aim-down-sights long before it was mainstream :)

    • Psychomorph says:

      Yeah, Infiltration is probably one of the most sophisticated mods for UT.

      • Catweasel says:

        It still has features I don’t see even in any modern games. What a mod.

        • DutchElvis says:

          It’s one of the few games to model M203 40mm grenade launcher sights correctly.

          Dslyexci of Shacktac fame did a pretty good write up on Infiltration years ago: link to dslyecxi.com

        • zeep says:

          In Infiltration you actually felt like you were holding a weapon. Weapon-world collision. You couldn’t turn around in a small corridor with your rifle sticking out.
          Or rest your weapon on something, anything, to steady aim.

          God i miss these things in modern “realistic” games.

        • Psychomorph says:

          Yet there will never be a “Have You Played… Infiltration?” article.

          Granted this article is about the commercial Tactical Ops, but it might be interesting to know that Infiltration was chosen to go commercial back then, and the decision to go with Tactical Ops instead was done by some guy at Epic after that. Bummer.

        • Slazia says:

          Another huge fan of Infiltration here. So I went the site – it’s still up. The forums – still up. Read a few of the old posts for nostalgia.

          Blackfoot studios was something that seemed to come from Infiltration. I don’t know the specifics, but they made Doorkickers. A game I bought, but haven’t yet had the chance to play. They also recently put this out: link to youtube.com

  2. J Arcane says:

    OMG yes! I loved this game. I played the crap out of it, because it was easy to get running even on pretty crappy hardware, and because I had a retail copy I’d got for like $5 or something ludicrous like that.

    I loved it. It felt just a bit different enough from CS at the time, even improved a bit (at least until CS:S came along).

    Also wicked cool was there was a really damn good bullet-time mod that was explicitly compatible with it, and *that* was fun as all hell.

  3. Psychomorph says:

    I has.

    No UT mod beats Infiltration though. One of the most realistic games.

  4. Winged Nazgul says:

    Played the hell out of it and wishes I could still play the hell out of it.

  5. Ron Peppers says:

    Shame I missed this one, the youtube gameplay video makes it seem gloriously brash and ridiculous.

    Kinda wish RPS would throw up servers for stuff like this even if only for a couple of days around the article, trying to go back and play some of these old and fun looking multiplayer games you recommend tends to end in sadness.

  6. H-Alien says:

    I did play Tactical Ops a bit but in truth I was a Strike Force junkie, that game cost me 2 years at university. Did achieve a tiny moment of glory when our clan reached #3 on Clanbase for a brief moment :)

    In fact there is still a Strike Force server up and running and old friends joining for a game on sundays.

  7. BluePencil says:

    I don’t get people playing games while watching TV. I can’t understand how you can appreciate either the game or the TV show both at the same time.

  8. Silverhood says:

    I played Tactical Ops from version 1.6 onwards ([D-X] Clan). I played CS and UT instagib too, but Tactical Ops had just the right blend of action, strategy, tactics and rambo-ness that I needed. On public servers, you would rush ahead to try and catch enemies at choke points, and generally try to get as many kills before the round was over. In organised matches, it became a game of chess, where each move could flare into a John Woo style firefight, with machine guns, flashbangs and bunny hopping. The maps were great, TO-Oil-rig and TO-Dam being my faves. There’s still an active community playing the game. You can find them at
    link to tacticalops.tk and link to tacticalsquare.com

    • monkeybars says:

      I played with MI6, it was the first (and only) organized clan I’ve ever played with. Tons of fun. I think I only played up until 1.5? Or 1.6? They introduced some pretty drastic changes around one of these releases that pushed me away, but I have tons of fond memories of it.

  9. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    I played a load of this, I think it had bots working so you could play offline. Maybe why you did the same? Better than laggy counterstrike on a 56k?

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Yep, Tactical Ops had bots which were all right. I played against them a fair bit, since I was stuck on a crappy modem connection, and getting friends together for LAN CS at the netcafe was only an occasional thing.

    • clorex says:

      Back in the day before I got a broadband internet connection, I played Tactical Ops because it had bots. I was young and dumb enough to buy Counter-Strike without realising it was an online-only game. Eventually, I learned how to download bots for CS. Each map had to have it’s own custom-made waypoints for the bots to follow.

      • clorex says:

        *its (dammit, where is the edit button?)

        Heh, I also remember walking around de_dust wondering where all the enemies were.

  10. mcshefferty says:

    I played for many many years from 1.6 onwards. I sunk so many hours into this game. Nothing has ever really grabbed me since.

  11. TAIMAT says:

    loved than one … UT engine was awesome .. funny bot names .. spend most of playtime in offline mode since most of my friends favored CS

  12. Premium User Badge

    Panther_Modern says:

    True Combat was definitely the best of the counterstrike-likes in my opinion. Nothing was fantastically inventive about it, but the balance between realism and ‘fun’ was perfect, and it presaged CoD4 and the modern paradigm of shooters by almost a decade

  13. TheSplund says:

    Played it, but I preferred the earlier versions of Strikeforce – similar/same maps perhaps, and even one from No On Lives Forever if I recall. Later versions of Strikeforce (> 1.71 was it?) just didn’t do it for me.

  14. zeep says:

    Great memories of playing this! <3