Players take the role of an unnamed operative of "The Network", an extra-governmental para-military group with the mandate of "saving the world" by engaging in military acts that the world's governments are politically incapable of. While on a mission to stabilize a small African nation in the midst of a civil war by assassinating the troublemakers on both sides of the conflict, the operative stumbles upon the existence of a mysterious group known as "The Target", who possess extremely advanced, almost alien technology, and are seemingly engaged in manipulating events in dozens of countries to create war and conflict across the globe.
Like Black, the game focuses on stylized, arcade-like combat, destructible environments (including most pieces of cover), and extravagant "gun-porn" intensity to the firing of weapons. The game's most distinguishing feature is the Skillshot system, where points are earned by killing enemies in special ways (headshots, backshots, killing through cover, explosive kills, etc.) which build up a combo multiplier. Unlike most shooters with a combo multiplier system, the combo isn't time-dependent, and is only broken if you die or kill an enemy using a non-skillshot kill.
The player also has access to 4 special abilities, which are recharged by collecting points (called "intel" in-game) from killed enemies. The special abilities are adrenaline (which makes you immune to damage), incendiary bullets (which do significantly increased damage), radar (which causes enemies to glow blue), and airstrikes (which should be self-explanatory).
This game provides examples of:
- The Adventure Continues: The ending implies that the operative takes up the mantle of the Network, and continues the fight against the Target.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Target appear to be an Illuminati-style secret organization. Word of God is that their advanced technology and alien design aesthetic is because of their unlimited wealth and resources, rather than any extraterrestrial origin.
- As Long as There is One Man: This seems to be the sentiment behind the cryptic "You are the Network and the Network is you" ending.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Online concept art for the player character shows him to be based on Chris Pine, best known as the new Captain Kirk.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: In the last few levels, your radar ability is upgraded to release an energy pulse that causes all Target enemies in the area to immediately self-destruct. The drawback is that it uses up your entire special ability bar.
- Excuse Plot: Like Black, the plot is largely divorced from the actual gameplay. It's also incredibly vague.
- Implacable Woman: The Nemesis is essentially invincible; you can't hurt her with your weapons, and during your first boss fight against her she survives a direct hit from an air-to-surface missile.
- Left Hanging: The game really doesn't definitively address any of the plot questions it raises over the course of the story. "You are the Network and the Network is you." is about all you get.
- Level in Reverse: Several of the levels are the same maps as previous levels, only you're running in the opposite direction.
- Mêlée à Trois: The game has three different enemy factions: the Militia, the Military, and the Target. All 3 are hostile towards each other as well as the player, leading to large multi-faction firefights in many areas of the game. This is averted in the second half of the game; unlike the African Militia and Military, the Asian Militia and Military factions are allied and will fight together against the player. They're still enemies with the Target for some reason, though.
- Minimalist Cast: There are only 3 real characters in the game, and interestingly all 3 of them are female; your Mission Control, your computer, and the Big Bad. Your character, a Silent Protagonist AFGNCAAP, doesn't really count, being essentially a mobile rifle.
- Action Bomb: The Militia have suicide bombers that will pop open a grenade and charge straight at you upon seeing you.
- Bandit Mook: The Militia faction's special unit is the Scavenger, who will scoop up intel laying around the battlefield if you don't pick it up yourself. They also lay mines to boobytrap you.
- Shoot the Medic First: The Military faction's special unit is the Medic, who can revive dead enemies (and likes to do so at an annoyingly high rate). The Target also has medics.
- Giant Mook: Militia Heavies are 7-foot tall brutes armed with heavy machineguns who can take a very large amount of damage to kill(70+ assault rifle bullets on Normal difficulty). Explosives and/or incendiary bullets are almost essential for fighting them.
- Superpowered Mooks: Target Elites can use at least two of the same special abilities that the player can; temporary invincibility, and enhanced damage bullets.
- No Name Given: At no point are you ever given the name of your character, nor the name of your Mission Control.
- Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: The two futuristic "Target" weapons are very boxy, while all other weapons in the game are based on real-life firearms.
- Regenerating Health: The game uses the standard Bloody Screen, So Real! regenerating health system of most modern shooters.
- The Reveal: There is one, but it's rather vague so you have to read between the lines to notice it. It's implied that your Mission Control that gives you orders throughout the game is in fact a member of the Target, who decided to make a HeelFace Turn and bring down the organization. The Network doesn't exist, having been destroyed by the Target before the events of the game. Your character is an Unwitting Pawn who was hired by Mission Control under the pretenses of joining "the Network", without realizing that it's just the two of them acting alone.
- Stuff Blowing Up: One of the key features of the game is destructible environments, including building walls and most objects that you'd use as cover. Explosive barrels are littered all over the place to add to the mayhem.
- Tron Lines: The Target have a very Tron-like design aesthetic, giving them a rather alien appearance.
- Useless Useful Stealth: The game has a silenced pistol as one of the available weapons, and it is possible to sneak kill enemies without alerting their nearby buddies. However, the gameplay and level design is completely based around running around blasting tons of enemies as loudly as possible, most areas are simply too heavily populated by enemies to sneak through, and there are many mandatory combat segments where having a silenced pistol as your weapon is just going to get you killed.
- We Help the Helpless: The stated objective of The Network - stopping civil wars, military overthrows, genocides, and general third-world assholery. According to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it intro, the Network has so far stopped arms deals, African genocide...