Primitive Metal Slug
Barrowing from the early 8-bit or 16-bit days, CT Special Forces takes a note from classic shoot’em ups such as Contra and Metal Slug. Not as polished as either of these classic games, CT feels slightly dated.
Obviously the developers at Light and Shadow wanted to create a game on par with the action paced Metal Slug series. However, CT just isn’t as fast paced or action packed. Strangely, this game was released almost two years ago in Japan. I am not sure why the game took so long to make it over seas. There is already a sequel out in Japan. Considering this game was recently released, it is still unclear if the second game will make it States side.
Players will take control of a Special Operations solider who receives orders from a higher power in the governmental chain. It is the player’s job to stop the bad guys and end terrorism. Each element of the story is told through cut scenes that are made up of highly detailed sprites. However, I believe some of the dialogue cut scenes are a little long winded for an action game. Nonetheless, the story always seems to come second next to game play.
Players will play through three types of levels: on foot Contra-style, top-down shooter, or first person Sniper Mode. The player can choose from many different types of weapons when on foot. Also, your basic jump and shoot actions have been assigned to the “A” and “B” buttons. “R” is used to chuck grenades. While all this sounds like it will make up for some classic arcade-like game play, it is put together rather sloppily. First, changing weapons is a huge inconvenience. The player must cycle through the weapons with the “L” button. Even if the player does not have ammo for a particular gun, he still must cycle through it. Since there are so many weapons and items to choose from, it takes a great deal of time to find the gun of choice. You cannot even change your weapons in the Start Pause menu. I would have liked to see a system similar to Max Payne for GBA. If the “L” button is held down, all the weapons you have are displayed and can easily be chosen through the use of the D-Pad. This would have sped up the game tremendously.
When on foot, certain action sequences will take place from time to time. For example, the player can capture and handcuff select enemies. Doing this simple action takes time and effort, however. The player must cycle completely through all his weapons to find the handcuffs. Then “A” must be tapped to handcuff the enemy. Then you have to reselect the weapon you were once using. The game should do all these things for you, like if you see a solider that can be captured, just run up to him to handcuff him. The same thing goes for the grapple hook. First the grapple hook must be found. Then the player will know when to use it when a flashing grapple icon appears on screen. The player must then cycle through his entire stock of nonexistent weapons to find the one grapple hook. If the grapple icon appears and if you have the grapple hook, the game should just use it for you.
The fighting seems a little too slow too. The bullets never fire as fast as you would like and enemies take too many hits to kill. This increases the difficulty past the point of frustration. This game is definitely hard to survive, especially for a handheld system. On average, enemies take about four hits to kill. When you have three enemies on screen at once, you won’t even be able to get a shot off especially because the main gun shoots very slowly. Enemies seem to move and shoot faster that you. The best way to take out enemies is by the use of a well-placed grenade, but each stock of them lies too far apart from one another. Plus, shooting straight up is very unresponsive. It takes several seconds for the character to aim his weapon upwards. Adding to the difficulty, you cannot shoot on an angle or drop down to the land below you.
If the player walks up to the edge of a cliff, the character performs an “I’m about to fall” animation. While the animation aspect is certainly well done, it interrupts game play. While this animation is playing, you cannot shoot. There are often times when the player hides in a small divot in the ground while an enemy is running around on the ledge above. When the player jumps up to shoot, he will often land on the side of ledge and perform the “I’m gonna fall” animation. Then the player cannot shoot and the enemy will wind up taking advantage of this. Once again, very frustrating.
Another sloppy designed aspect of each level is that the player will get shot off screen. Enemies seem to see the player coming from a screen and a half away while the player has no way of knowing they are there. Plus, the enemy’s bullets still shoot on the player’s screen, but the player cannot shoot what is not on screen. Getting shot off screen just seems like something from poor programming of the past and has no place in games today.
Besides getting shot off screen, you know what else I don’t like? Taking leaps of faith. Because of the lack of a scrolling screen feature, the player will jump into oblivion more than he should. There is never a clear way to tell if you are going to jump into a hole or find the next part of the level. A scroll feature needed to be added into this game to eliminate all the cheap kills.
Besides from the shady gameplay, the graphic elements are very well done. The main character and the enemies are all very well detailed and animated. The backgrounds are bright and vivid as well. However there are times that I would have liked to see the platforms a little for clarity. For example, in the early snow levels of the game, the player climbs his way through a snow covered mountains region. The snow-topped ledges that must be climbed blend in with the background so well that the player will probably past them.
The music in this game is really nothing to brag about. While each song is true and uplifting, the quantity is low. Get used to hearing the same song over and over. On the other hand, the sound effects are pleasant. Each bang and boom makes each weapon give off a more realistic feel.
The bottom line is, this game is way too hard and frustrating. Each enemy takes way too many hits to kill and the game itself holds the player back by incorporation a cumbersome weapon select system. Cheap deaths run rampant because of the lack of a scrolling screen and aiming is always a pain. If you manage to make it to the next level, the player gets a slap in the face with a password. Without a simple battery backup save feature, the game laughs at you because you have to do more needless work. The game does offer a two-player mode, but two copies of the game are needed. I’m sorry to say that this game needs to be avoided despite a solid graphical effort. It has everything you need to make a fun shoot’em up game but it is just put together in a very horrible way.