Developed by Zombie Studios
A Third Person Mess
t is a common thing to run into various multiplayer shooter games these days; a market niche overflowing with titles. Too many in my opinion, but that is another story. Zombie Games now brings us Special Forces: Team X, a new squad based online shooter. Does it elevate the genre and add something new? Simple answer: No. It’s exactly what you would expect, subtract various appealing features other titles already do better. Much better. So, then, what exactly does it add to the over saturated genre?
Special Forces: Team X is a third person, squad based, multiplayer shooter. No story here (which is fine by me in most online shooters). Just load up the game, create a generic soldier, and start killing. The menu system is easy and straight forward and gets you going online right away. I’m actually surprised certain major titles even bother with the story aspect in their games. Looking at you Call of Duty. Sure, developers want to express their creative ideas, but at the end of the day, most people head straight for the multiplayer. That is what they have come to expect after every iteration a series spawns. Games in this field could essentially cut the fat and build a solid online shooter this way. Does Special Forces benefit from focusing solely on its online component? Not at all. I might sound a bit harsh on an Xbox Live Arcade title but, realistically, there have been so many titles released in the past year that have completely surprised me by how small developers could create such amazing titles. I feel that, with a lot more polish, this might have been a fun game.
As a third person shooter, Special Forces: Team X attempts to go the route of Gears of War. When you run, the camera shakes frantically. When you aim down your sights, the field of view narrows. Its a basic formula. Before jumping into any matches, you can equip a preferred weapon and look to your character. In order to gain more styles, perks, and weapons, you need to level up in online matches. It is exactly what you would expect in most online games. However, the game just isn’t fun to play. It was a tedious experience. Even the map picking gimmick did not add much to the enjoyment of the game. On the several matches I played, during the map selection screen, you are given the option to essentially build a map out of selectable presets; you can mix and match sections to essentially create numerous possibilities. The problem, however, was that even with all the various match ups, everything just ended up looking identical as if someone just kept re-arranging the same run-down factory/outdoor bunker/construction site, and fusing the results together. It was a neat concept, but it all felt too similar. No amount of hilarious rag doll physics from a grenade exploding next to an enemy player could keep me captivated. Seriously though, the grenade kills always had me laughing. It’s just so over exaggerated that you can’t help but smirk. I’ll give the game that much.
Graphically speaking, the game is not pleasant to stare at. It attempts to recreate a Borderlands-esque esthetic, but falls short of the mark. It reminds me of the awful Photoshop filter we all played around with trying to turn our photographs into cartoons. It just doesn’t work out in the end. Still images almost look like Borderlands, but in actual motion, its nauseating. The player animations are horrible too. While in a dash, the character had this almost giddy hop to his steps. It was very silly when mixed with the intense shake of the camera. Not to mention the horrendous frame rate drop during close encounters against another player. I’m not entirely sure either what could cause it, because this is not a graphics intensive title. This was infuriating trying to kill someone only to die because the game came to a pitiful chug. Graphics in a game are never something I usually base whether or not the game is good. Its the finishing polish that can just enhance an experience. Titles from the past could be extremely dated due to their graphics, but still come out on top from everything else it accomplishes. However, when it physically affects the game itself, then it becomes a problem.
I played Special Forces: Team X with a very open mind. I hoped that maybe it would be a fun title to play next to the other shooters I’ve already invested several hours into; that, just maybe, what it tried to do was unique enough to keep me engaged. What I got was a mess of a game trying to mix aspects that made other games so memorable, yet falling short of standing out for itself, much like the level selector between matches. I wonder sometimes if developers pause to reflect on the choices they have made on a title. If someone from testing it stood up and said “Y’know what guys, this might need to change.” Like I mentioned previously, the game might have been good if it only had more polish and care from the creators.
Zombie Games, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.