"After completing the bland, but inoffensive, first stage, I noticed the second looked exactly the same. As did the third. And the fourth. Yep, this game possesses 13 stages and the first four were near-identical, with my plane flying over the Siberian tundra or some similarly frozen wasteland."
Growing up, my parents always told me that if I couldnít say anything nice, not to say anything at all. Well, I never really got the hang of doing that, but (for the most part), Iíve found myself to be extremely diplomatic as far as at least making some sort of effort to temper my overwhelming negativity with something positive.
Case in point: Genesis arcade port Task Force Harrier EX did an admirable job of creating a consistent theme throughout many of its 13 levels. Between each stage, my pilot was given an objective that often was at least loosely tied to what Iíd just done the previous level. Also, there was a logical progression, as I started over a tundra and advanced over oceans, cities and deserts on my way to the enemy base. I like there to be some degree of continuity in my shooters, so the effort Treco put into pulling that off was a pleasant surprise.
Too bad they screwed virtually everything else up, leaving me to muddle through a game that more resembled a low-quality remix of Raiden or 1943 than something Iíd actually enjoy. It didnít take me long to get my first hint this would not be a particularly fun experience. After completing the bland, but inoffensive, first stage, I noticed the second looked exactly the same. As did the third. And the fourth. Yep, this game possesses 13 stages and the first four were near-identical, with my plane flying over the Siberian tundra or some similarly frozen wasteland.
Fortunately, the fifth stage moved me from the icelands to an ocean and things started to improve as far as level variety goes. However, that improvement was negated by another problem that began making its presence felt. About midway through the game, Treco decided the action (which, with the exception of a couple bosses, had been very tame) needed to be more intense. And so, Task Force Harrier EX suddenly transformed into a manic shooter, with planes and tanks assailing me from all angles. One problem: the engine couldnít handle all this intensity, causing me to suffer through periodic episodes of slowdown over a good number of stages. Nothing makes a merely unappealing game flat-out rancid quicker than consistent annoying technical difficulties.
But slowdown and boring stages werenít the only things that annoyed or simply baffled me about this game. To not waste too much of your time (like I did with mine playing Task Force Harrier EX), Iíll be brief. The power-up system made little sense, as it seemed my plane would be stripped of powerful weaponry after virtually every level, forcing me to build it back up again. A couple of the more intense levels gave me a pair of small planes that seemed to act as a frontal shield to soak up a number of the plentiful bullets rained up me, but most simply had me rely on my reflexes and whatever power-ups I could scrounge from the enemy. Bosses were unbalanced, as one of the toughest and most frustrating fights I encountered was against a pair of small tanks at the end of the second level. I could go on, but you get the point....this simply is a poor, uninspired game.
But, hey! At least there is some sort of plotline connection from each level to the next and that has to count for something.....doesnít it?
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (July 07, 2006)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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