An ordinarily average Special Team...
Posted 2 months ago By - Jacob Mertens
You sneak up on an enemy camp seemingly left abandoned. As you approach a blue buzzing satellite, prepared to hack your way in, you notice the screen flash red. Before you can turn to take cover, your body goes limp and you fall to the ground. Only after your untimely death do you see the two soldiers hiding in the rafters, reveling in their kill. If Special Forces: Team X has one major drawback, it is that gamers have been here before. Whether they have busied away hours playing Modern Warfare or Team Fortress, Gears of War or Halo, the lines in the sand have been drawn, and if another shooter is to rise to the foreground, it must set itself apart. Rather than taking on such a formidable task, the developers at Zombie Studios opt to clone pieces of several successful games into one XBLA multiplayer hybrid. Depending on the gamer’s resistance to déjà vu, Special Forces: Team X can offer a thrilling way to pass a few hours. Just don’t expect the game to last in the rotation for long.
The visuals in Special Forces use cell shading similar to Borderlands, allowing Zombie Studios to produce a good looking game that does not demand a lot of memory to run. Because of this, Special Forces plays smooth online, even with varying connection speeds. However, the game does have an odd bug, in which running can cause lag issues. For those who love to bound from one end of a map to the other, this presents a serious problem. However, despite this issue, matches usually keep a lively pace, and maps are not so large that the action feels tempered. Special Forces also has an enjoyable physics engine that causes dead bodies to flop onto the ground once an enemy snuffs out their life, and a camera that instantly seeks out the perpetrating offender. Ultimately, the look of the game musters up a gleeful spirit of violence, but does not really break the mold in any way.
"While Special Forces cannot contend with the expansiveness and nuance of Call of Duty or Halo, it does have an innate “pick up and play” quality."
Gameplay furthermore borrows the cover system of Gears of War, and the player progression of Call of Duty. Throughout a given match, a gamer must carefully consider the strength of a covered position, as most run the risk of an enemy outflanking them and attacking from behind. In order to help cover these blind spots, the gamer must rely on team play to fortify an area. Even without a headset, Special Forces: Team X helps develop teamwork through the complexity of map designs. Looking around a given room with three exits, gamers will instantly note where their comrades take cover and look to take a position that complements them. Additionally, as gamers gather experience, they gain access to new guns and gear. Unfortunately, a lot of the guns do not offer much variety in balance and power, and so Special Forces can occasionally strain to keep the gamer invested. Still, the customization with the gear helps to make things interesting. For instance, you can use attack dogs as if they were grenades, letting the mongrel chase down an enemy and rip out his throat. Perks can also take the form of generated ammo and health pick-ups, as well as a string of land mines.
More importantly, Special Forces does away with kill streak bonuses, preferring instead to litter the map with random crate drops of air strikes, rocket launchers, mini-guns, and chainsaws. This may take some of the satisfaction out of running roughshod over your opponent, but it creates a better flow to the match, leaving the distribution of mass carnage to the hands of chance. The game also offers a voting mechanism for each map that actually changes the layout in distinct sections. Through this process, Special Forces boasts nearly 100 technically unique maps, and ensures that one player cannot gain too great a foothold in any one arena. On the other hand, Special Forces takes away the ability to memorize the map and use this familiarity to gain an advantage. Much like a progression system that does not offer a significant change in power, or powerful weapon drops that do not favor the skilled, the mutable map design levels the playing field. Again, the match does move at a better pace, but Special Forces begins to sacrifice some depth in its gameplay.
There are only five multiplayer modes in Special Forces: Team X, each a time tested varietal of deathmatch or capture the flag, and no single player mode to bolster time spent. The question is whether Zombie Studios’ derivative but enjoyable online mash-up warrants the $15 price tag. In the end, it depends on the gamer. While Special Forces cannot contend with the expansiveness and nuance of Call of Duty or Halo, it does have an innate “pick up and play” quality. At the same time, the game has practically no identity because it spends all its time imitating others. If you find yourself between shooters, Special Forces might make for a good distraction. To treat it as anything else though, would be a mistake.
+ Cover system and map design create strong team play
+ Random weapon drops take away the godly power of the kill streak
+ Easy to pick up and put down
+ Map generation changes the layout of each match
- Occasional lag issues with running
- Lacking depth in weapon progression
- Gameplay is enjoyable but shallow
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Release Date : 2013/02/06
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Atari
Developer : Zombie Studios
Category : Shooter
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
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