Review by googlemonster
"A game that needs patience"
I've read over and over about the battle vs. those who can learn to handle the controls and those who bash it. The argument over the controls has become so that people are forgetting the game.
Regardless, beginning with this infamous control scheme, let me say that it takes time, coordination, and practice to fully understand the control scheme. The game is not a button masher nor is it a ''memorize-the-button-combination'' type game. You need to develop touch, angle, and coordination strictly for the controls in order to surpass the initial hump. From there, the game moves rather smoothly and you'll be amazed at how well you can play the game. A few things like a strafe feature would be nice, and contrary to what another person has said, you do not have to hold down the trigger to lock-on, the game does it automatically when monsters are a.) on screen, and b.) within range. That said, a manual lock-on feature would be monumentally wonderful, (I've found myself shooting automatically at the wrong monster several times in a close-combat melee.) However, as you learn to ''Boost Combo'' better, time your jumps and your shots along with the handy GV special attack better, you'll come to understand what Smilebit had planned with the controls. Whether or not this ''learning step'' is a good or bad thing depends solely on your own preference and ability. There is no right or wrong in the debate, and it is completely up to you to decide whether you like it or not.
Graphically, I found myself astounded. The animation stays smooth almost 100% of the game, everything is beautifully animated, and there are little touches and details in everything that simply add up to a wonderful scene of motion. The special effects of the weapons, attacks, boosts, etc, are wonderfully done, not too distracting, and rather satisfying. The heat distortion you see while boosting and blazing away from a horde of spiders is a wonderful touch, just to mention an example. The character designs are very well done, the levels are quite fantastic to look at, (I especially enjoyed looking at the swamp level.) The enemies do the job, but I feel the ''fighting swarms giant insects'' has become almost cliche, but that's a personal issue.
Gameplay-wise, the game is fun. The feeling of accomplishment is rewarding, and the action is intense. The difficulty level is relatively high, but that's what old-school gaming was all about. One who beat Contra on NES without using the tons-of-lives code, zero continues was truly skilled, and those days have long since passed. It's nice to see it rekindled here. Some quibbles I have deal with the gameplay is the lack of weaponry, (I believe they could have given us more weapons and still make you feel outnumbered,) and, as I mentioned before, a manual lock-on or strafe feature would be nice.
The sound is similar to what you would find in an arcade: constant barrage. The music isn't something to rave about, but it sets the arcade/old-school mood. There is very little variation in the noises, (I must have heard the sound of spiders squishing about to a nauseating level,) but again, that adds to the old-school/arcade vibe you get while playing. Whether or not you enjoy this, again, depends on your own personal preference. I didn't buy this game to hear an epic score or listen to all the intricacies of battle or enjoy an epic quest and adventure. I bought it for fun.
I'd go into the story, but, I suppose I won't talk about it so not to spoil things, but perhaps some more cinematics would've been nice as opposed to reading documents when progressing the storyline.
It's great to have a game where subtle control and timing skills are key, rather than memorizing combinations. The game is quick, (I had a busy week with work and beat it early the third day, about an hour or so each day,) the game is fun, and playing through it over and over, honing your skills, kicking insect-butt is something I'm looking foward to. It is not the be-all-end-all of games, and I doubt it intended to be. I feel it got the job it wanted to done, and that is to create an intense action game that needs skills to succeed in.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/23/02, Updated 03/23/02
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