Few things first:
On the live streams, the people were playing on hard or were they just poor? I can't say how difficult the game is on hard but as a freelancer on normal and without buying hardly any equipment, I've only come close to dying once. I came close at the first boss for Saudi Arabia (not sure if you go back). So, don't judge the game based on the live stream. The streams have done the game a disservice. Regardless, I got past the part they were on and at max, I only had to deal with two soldiers. I stealth killed many of the soldiers, something which I'm sure they didn't do. Plus I wager they rushed through the game thinking of it as a shooter. I only have one point in stealth at the moment as well. (Your armor and skills determine how easy it is for enemies to detect you. Sometimes, they will find me when I close on them, but I have enough time to prevent them shooting me for the most part. I also don't have stealth armor etc. equipped.)
Okay, now that that's out of the way, I'm only just out of Saudi Arabia. I haven't done any other missions yet but the story's started getting good at this point. So, I can't comment on how choices you make etc. affect things (from a story perspective). But I will say that the missions you tackle can have an effect on how many enemies you may face in future missions and such. Game length wise, I got the game around 13:00 pm. I've probably had about three hours away from the game and the rest of the time has been spent on it. It's 19:33pm now.
I've not encountered any bugs or glitches yet either. The shooting mechanics are not as good as what's featured in proper shooter games, but let's be honest, who thought the mechanics would be? Especially when accuracy etc. is determined by statistics. They're fine in any case. The only attachment I have on my assault rifle at the moment is a sight which gives +1 accuracy I think. Have about 4 ranks in the assault rifle skill also.
Level linearity? They seem to be linear. There's a but though. When you go through the levels, you'll find there's sometimes multiple ways of entering an area, so one approach may be better than another. Also, there is often intel and money (amongst other things) hidden off the beaten track.
Anyways, didn't want to write up a proper review. I'll be saving that for when I've finished the game and well, I write reviews for money so... Regardless, hope this helped someone decide whether or not to get the game. Feel free to ask questions as I may be back. I've probably not explained everything and haven't proof-read this, but I'm in a hurry to get back to the game after letting the PS3 cool down. So, that's an explanation.
Edited by Dan_CW, 27 May 2010 - 11:00 AM.