Have you ever wondered what would happen if “XIII” and CoD had an orgy with the 3rd person shooter genre? No, neither have I. But Zombie Studios seem to believe there is a market, albeit a small one, dying to play it online.
Zombie Studios have a firm grasp on the shooter genre and have worked on the Spec Ops games as well as expansions to the Rainbow Six series. More recently their efforts have been focussed on XBLA titles with the Blacklight series and now Special Forces Team X.
Special Forces Team X (STX if, like me, you just love acronyms) is a 3rd person online shooter. There are no offline modes at all. The idea of such a game normally irritates me as the game then lives or dies on whether or not the company can afford the servers to keep the game on its feet and whether there are people willing to play it over THAT colossus of the genre. STX has a big challenge ahead, but that’s not to say STX is a bad game. In fact, it is far from it.
This uniquely stylised shooter can provide hours of fun for those who dare to lose themselves in the cartoony and ultra-violent…. violence that the game provides. The art style itself is worth a look for those who have been longing for another cell shaded shooter, with the only downside being that you need to convince a few friends to pick up the game to make the most of it. At the time of writing the online can be a bit barren at times.
Like any modern shooter, Special Forces adopts the “career” side of an online shooter and employs the use of levels and unlocks that we all know and loathe. At first, the user is presented with what can only be described as slim pickings. Fortunately, over time you find yourself levelling up and acquiring slightly more useful weapons, and more importantly, attachments for those weapons. After you have levelled up to a sufficient level, a plethora of customisations are available for you in terms of appearance and in weapons choice. These are the split across two separate classes. For those of you familiar with load outs from the many games that take advantage of this mechanic, there will be a level of familiarity on how to set up classes and how to work around the menus.
The game boasts a variety of different game types with oddly abbreviated names. They are all rather generic game modes that you would expect of a shooter, but it can be quite hard to work out the difference between the HZ and CP modes if you aren’t overly familiar with them. For the most part, the game modes are well thought out and provide enough flavour for a lot of different games without feeling too stale.
As I’ve already touched upon ,there is a severe lack of offline options, and the game even lacks the generic bot fight and split screen modes (think ShadowRun levels of offline) you would hope for from this type of game. There is also a lack of any solid tutorial, but instead the information required is buried deep in the options menu. Although it does provide some basic information, it doesn’t quite stick, especially when its as vague as “increasing your level will increase your team bonus”. What is my team bonus? Is it to do with my perks? Has it just to do with points? And why do I have to hump my fellow combatants’ legs to ensure I get more levels?
What is one of the few saving graces of the game is the level selection. Instead of the standard “vote for a map” we would expect, the players are given the option to select between 3 different parts of the level. This is comprised of the two spawn points and the centre area of the map. So instead of your generic vote for a map you can now build your own level with the consent of others. The downside of this is that that the opposing team can control your spawn point. The maps are fairly balanced though, so it might just create a few issues if certain “pro” teams force your spawn and have a specific tactic for that area. As it stands, this type of level building Lego approach is great for creating new levels and keeping you interested in the hundreds of possible maps that could be created from a few simple votes.
Overall, Special Forces: Team X is a good bit of fun but should really be shared with friends. The game won’t live beyond its novelty and unfortunately once the online becomes a barren wasteland there won’t be much for you to do without your friends. For the most part it also feels like the game heavily depends on you playing other games of the genre to really understand how to play it, and for me it just reminded me of the better games I could be playing.
6 “Team Levels ” out of 10