Friday, April 24, 2009

Strike Force Psi Review


If there was a way to give a game an A for the first 2 min of gameplay, I would have. I just did. This game has a great initial hook - it looks damn cool and the controls are solid.

You play as a no-name special ops-type fella and you jump around this side-scrolling platformer blasting bad guys - pretty straightforward premise here. The main character's design is appealing and brought me back to my Counterstrike days. His animations are equally well done and he plays/controls tightly. The background art is quite nice (see pics) and while the foreground platform designs are standard and repetitive, they get the job done. The music matches the scenery well, and the SFX are minimal but effective.

As mentioned, I think most people will enjoy the look, feel, and gameplay upon firing it up. You've got a cool gun and some grenades and you take off gunz-a-blazing. But my main concern here is the lack of depth and variety.

The game never becomes a platformer in the sense that you really need to 'platform.' You just need to shoot your way to the end of the level. The baddies are really a lot like muppets - it's almost like they want to play some counting games and walk up to say hello. BAM. And then.....BAM BAM BAM all the way to the end. They all take one bullet to kill and they rarely even get a shot off if you keep firing. It's actually hard to miss too because they are usually running right at you on the same platform. I have to admit though I did burst out laughing several times after mowing through about 15 of these muppets in 3 seconds, so I guess there is some satisfaction there.

What I am getting at is that there are no real game mechanics beyond the basic jump/shoot. No taking cover, or bionic arm, or grabbing ledges, or bouncing off enemies, etc. You can crouch but I am not sure why. There are no powerups, no additional weapons, and only one basic type of enemy (which of course limits strategy/difficulty). I blew through the full game in about 20 minutes, and there's no boss(es). They only thing halting my progress was my carelessness. (one bullet kills you too, buddy)

Honestly, the look and feel of this game suggests some serious potential. It just needs something else to make it chewable and challenging. Even something like a time trial challenge would add some substance where you can try to burn through the cardboard AI as fast as possible.

If you like run-and-gun sidescrolling shooters, this one will give you a nice sense of satisfaction and is worth a quick playthrough while you wait for your Hot Pockets to heat up. ;)

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