Review by blueninja4444

"The Coded Arms Sequel Has Arrived"

Let me start the review for Coded Arms 2 by saying that the first Coded Arms was the first ever first person shooter on the PSP system, and that's quite a landmark. The first Coded Arms was good for what it tried to accomplish, and the sequel, Contagion, is also good for what it tries to accomplish. Coded Arms: Contagion is far from a perfect game, but it is a very pick-up-and-go game, full of fast paced action, and a sequel to the original. If you liked the first Coded Arms then read on to find out about Contagion. If you didn't like the first one, you won't like this either so be forewarned. Let's take a look.....

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics in Coded Arms can be summed up with one little phrase: “Not varied”. The first Coded Arms had the unfortunate reality of the fact that every single stage looked identical to the next, just with a different layout. Here I expected more of the same, but was excited when I entered “The Industrial Zone” which was a huge change from the beginning levels which looked a lot like every level in Coded Arms 1. But the excitement turned to disappointment when I realized that from here out, the Industrial Zone is about as exciting as it gets and even the next “zone” looks a lot like it, until almost the end of the game.

The enemies have a slight tendency of moving at a terrible rate with an ugly animation. The standard soldiers slide around like hockey players to avoid your bullets, and they all kind of look the same too, unless they are a different breed like the spider-bots roaming around. The guns you can aquire in this game all look different in your hands and fire different rounds, which adds a little spice, I must admit.

Among to so-so in game graphics are some beautiful looking FMV videos which tell the story of this game. There are no cut scenes with the in-game graphics, but if needed certain conversations will pop up on your screen in a rather bland format. The graphics are nothing special but they don't hinder the game either.

Sound: 7/10
Coded Arms was designed exclusively for the PlayStation Portable system, and is designed for on-the-go play. Keeping that in mind, the sound is nothing particularly special and completely optional if you need to play some place with the sound muted.

The voice acting is pretty good when there is voice acting. During the FMV cut scenes you get voices but during the in game radio chats, the voice acting could be used instead of plain old text reading. But the techno inspired beats are catchy, and the gun effects sound cool. Not much to complain about here.

Controls: 10/10
As the sequel to the first first person shooter on the PSP, you might expect Coded Arms 2 has done everything exactly right. By default, you use the control stick to move and strafe, use the face buttons to look around in FP view, the d-pad consists of random things like weapon change and lock-on, and the shoulder buttons are used to shoot and jump. The default control scheme works perfectly but if you view it otherwise Coded Arms does have a bunch of other control schemes available even some far out options no one would use in a million years, and the ability to invert the Y-axis. The controls are perfect, and that's what defines Coded Arms: Contagion.

Story: 5/10
Ohh no! They didn't really do it, did they? Yeah... They did. Coded Arms: Contagion tried to add a story instead of keeping the format of the original, which is to just not have a story. The idea here (and in the first Coded Arms) was that you literally enter a computer system and literally fight viruses who have taken enemy form. While that remains the same, this game now includes a very “whatever” story about your character rebelling against his superior to save the stranded Bravo team before they die. It's decent at best, but if you played the first Coded Arms you might miss that whole open ended no story thing.

Gameplay: 7/10
The core of Coded Arms is in it's gameplay! Coded Arms is a futuristic first person shooter with an emphasis on simplicity and fun. There isn't a lot of strategy to this game, which could be a bad or a good thing, depends on how you view it. There is no sprint button, there is no duck button, there is no cover, it's your basic run out and shoot.

The game is great in taking full advantage of it's futuristic setting. Unlike some games which offer you the same ol' same ol' machine guns, Coded Arms has everything from the basic shotgun and P90 to rare weapons like the Vulcan cannon from a jet fighter (Remember Vulcan Raven from Metal Gear Solid?) and plasma cannons and vacuum-like guns that literally pull the data from the enemy.

The enemies are all futuristic too, from high-tech soldiers to virus infected allies to free roaming robots. It's just such a shame that the enemy is plagued with (no, not viruses) a horrible A.I. that usually just bum rushes you until death. The enemy has no strategy, they don't hide behind cover or anything. It's your job to take them out, and that's usually a pretty easy job. The game does include a couple of surprise bosses, but you can probably make pretty quick work out of them also.

Also of note is the minor upgrading that you can do to weapons and armor, adding some laughable, yet enjoyable RPG elements to this game. And in addition to mindless shooting the occasional simple-minded hack mini-game proves that you don't have to own a Nintendo DS to play cheesy portable mini-games.

So Coded Arms: Contagion doesn't have any complex game play, or Final Fantasy leveling up, but it does it's job to provide a fun FPS on the go. You won't likely play Coded Arms at home on the AC adaptor but if you need something to quench your trigger finger's thirst for action while on break at school or work, then this game is the game for you.

Longevity/ Replay Value: 4/10
A true downgrade from the first Coded Arms which randomly generated each level and enemy for you. Contagion tries to have a more established game presence, and while it could've worked, it ultimately ruins the replay value. Once you beat the select levels you will not find motivation to go back through, or do the ridiculous “time trial” versions of the same exact levels. Playing through the game once is enough, and the multiplayer mode is quite unexciting, but you could make some fun out of it if you get some friends with this game and play competitively (sorry no co-op) online. Up to eight players, not too shabby.

Overall: 6
An overly hyped sequel, Coded Arms: Contagion, is a slightly above average shooter with good intentions that fails to be an addicting game. It's solid, yet forgettable. I would only recommend this game if you're looking for a new game to play while on the run, in short 10 or 15 minute bursts. If you're expecting something epic, with a realistic spin on futuristic warfare that'll keep you glued to your PSP until the battery dies out, then this is not the game. Nothing is terrible, but everything could've been better: Graphics, sound, gameplay, you name it. In the end, Coded Arms gets a well deserved, slightly better than average 6 out of 10.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 04/07/08

Game Release: Coded Arms: Contagion (US, 09/18/07)

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