"After emptying one of the over-abundant first aid kits, our hero realizes that there isn't a drop of action in his future, that all of his battles shall only amount to taking potshots with his puny pistol. As the hordes of boring, weak soldiers fall prey to these cowardly tactics, a thought edges its way into his mind: why the hell aren't I playing Metal Slug instead?"
A lone soldier treks through a snowy mountainside in search of a fiendish terrorist. The frequent blizzards are silent, and the pathetic layer of powder beneath him fails to so much as poof. As this unnamed grunt springs forth from a trench to exchange fire with his foes, he somehow lands in midair, causing him to take a volley of fire to the gut. After emptying one of the over-abundant first aid kits, our hero realizes that there isn't a drop of action in his future, that all of his battles shall only amount to taking potshots with his puny pistol. As the hordes of boring, weak soldiers fall prey to these cowardly tactics, a thought edges its way into his mind: why the hell aren't I playing Metal Slug instead?
To say that CT: Special Forces blows ass would be an understatement. Paramount of the game's flaws is that enemies can withstand upwards of five shots from the weak, slow-firing pistol that you start out with. Because of this, the bland mercenary that is your avatar will simply look for cover behind a variety of nondescript rocks and holes; you aren't strong enough for manly combat. Furthermore, while you DO end up getting special weapons such as a flamethrower, the odds are overwhelming in favor of you saving up for the boss battles, which consist of Castlevania IV style "hope they die first" duels against some dull, drab vehicles. I mean, how can you possibly be intimidated by... THE BULLDOZER?
That said, if games like kill.switch taught us anything, it's that using cover can actually be pretty fun so long as the levels carry variation in lieu of the combat. Well, forget it. Take the third mission, defined by a coloring book style jungle. As you start out, you'll battle through an empty field of grass, and then past some huts that contain snipers. The two areas then proceed to repeat over and over for the duration of twenty-five minutes. As if trying to alleviate the boredom factor, LSP haphazardly added some minigames to break up the side-scrolling monotony. Sadly, these just add insult to injury, as the overhead shooter stages are thoroughly devoid of challenge, while the sniping sections are unplayable due to the fact that you can never even see where your foes lie.
The enemy variety also doesn't help things much. Compared to the organic yet mechanical style of recent Contra foes, the oversized crabs and zombies of Metal Slug 3, or even the normal soldiers of Metal Slug that just bubbled personality, your opponents in this game are quite banal. Their attack pattern generally consists of running at you kamikaze style whilst firing a bullet or three that you (randomly) may or may not be able to duck under. They're also just as repetitive as the levels themselves, each area containing a generic army of clones.
And as if CT's coffin needed a final nail, it can be a very glitchy product. As stated above, it's entirely possible to be stand firmly in the center of a trench, jump, and land in mid-air. Don't get me wrong, the GBA needs a strong side-scrolling shooter. Something's a bit awry when the genre's best representatives are a butchered Contra III port and some Lilo and Stich game. However, CT Special Forces is not the game to fill such a gap, instead simply adding to it with its pathetic design and boring gameplay. Unfortunately, its sequels aren't much better. Just wait for Metal Slug Advance.
Staff review by John L (October 11, 2004)
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