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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Infogrames

 

Developer

Infogrames

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2001

 

 

- Unreal Tournament engine still makes things look good

- Lots of action

- Multiplayer is very balanced

- Loads of missions to blast through

- Bonus levels are a nice touch

- Donít need a monster rig to make it run properly

- Interesting weapons and upgrades

- Easy installation

- Easy to get into

- Easy interface

- A wide variety of alien invaders

- Smash TV in 3D

 

 

- Blasting wave after wave of bad guys can get tiresome

- Lack of mission variety

- Finding a good multiplayer game can be hard

 Some funny graphic quirks during multiplayer games

- Annoying professor

 

 

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X-Com Enforcer

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

Smash TV is one of my all-time favorite games Ė tons and tons of non-stop action, cool weapons and being outnumbered 100 to 1 at the best of times. X-COM Enforcer (EE) was obviously influenced by Smash TV (STV) in a number of areas.

 

         

 

The story is straightforward Ė annihilate the alien invaders. And since you take control of a big robot, it makes the job a whole lot easier. Of course, being a robot isnít enough. There are a wide variety of weapons to use and upgrade. Among them are a shotgun, nuker, lighting gun, freeze gun, flame thrower, mass driver, psy-cannon. But thereís no weapon switching since the Enforcer canít carry more than one gun at a time. Your creator, an annoying little professor, randomly drops weapons in whatever area youíre fighting aliens. Simply walking over an item will equip it. (STV anyone?) Sometimes this method works against you Ė like when you happen to be moving backward (you canít see whatís behind you) and get a weapon thatís ineffective at fighting the 3,000 behemoth charging at you. Of course, if you hit a speed booster you can retreat and find a more powerful weapon.

 

Everything you blast delivers lots of things called datapoints. Depending on the size of the alien, entire areas can be filled with them. Between missions, these datapoints can be exchanged for weapon and equipment upgrades. (Upgrading armor, jumping ability and running are essential for success.) Each weapon has four upgrade levels, with each level getting progressively more powerful. Thereís nothing quite like unloading a few level-4 nukes to clear out a crowed building. Itís very easy to upgrade things to point of near invincibility. Un-researched items are found during the course of each mission and unlocked during the R&D phase between missions.

 

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The action and control is relatively straightforward -- click on enemies, throw a few punches, perform a special mutant attack, and move on to the next objective.  Attacks can be combined among your group of selected mutants to cause even more damage and to mix up the action a bit.  Strangely enough, the action never gets stale.

 

Maybe it's because the group can be altered (almost at will) or maybe 

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The weapon effects are very impressive, especially the psy-cannon. EE uses the Unreal Tournament engine and it looks great. And you donít need a monster rig to run it! After my last PC game Ė Tribes 2 Ė this came as a bit of a relief. Only when there are fifty or so aliens running around and youíve just unleashed a bombing run does the framerate hit the dirt. Itís all very colourful and easy to look at. The aliens come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with varying attack and strength levels. Some are spectacular to watch. They come charging around corners, leaning into the turn, their feet slipping a bit. Sound is good too, but if I could change something, I would have given the professor, who constantly gives you updates, more things to say.

With all this great looking action, itís a bit disappointing the game play is so thin. There are only two missions that deviate from the straight, "Destroy the alien teleporters and save the humans," and one of them is extremely easy. In terms of strategy, hitting hard and fast is usually the best way to get through a mission Ė taking out the teleporters before they can beam in the more powerful aliens. In some games, the level design lends itself to the game play with cool environments to look at and use to your advantage. But the majority of levels in EE take place in outdoor cities with the chance to blow open doors and explore rooms inside with not much in the way of using the environment to your advantage. A few levels are memorable, most notably one set on a farm with lots of corn fields, but too many have that "samey" feeling. It might have been interesting to see an underwater level or a zero-g battle. The bosses are fairly easy to defeat. Keep moving and keep the enemy lined up and theyíll be showering datapoints all over the place soon enough. (And Infograms pays further tribute to STV by including a boss that could be Mutoid Manís brother.) To help your aim you can hold down the right mouse button to bring up a targeting reticule. I only found it necessary to use this on some of the flying enemies while using a weak weapon. The powerful weapons have so much splash damage you donít really have to worry about aim. You donít even have to worry about getting lost because you have access to a compass that points you in the direction of another alien teleporter or human that needs to be rescued.

One of the things I really liked about EE is that itís got bonus levels. These levels are reached by collecting the letters in "BONUS" that are scattered across each mission. The bonus missions give you the chance to increase your datapoint total, and therefore access to more upgrades during the R&D phase. There are four different bonus levels and two of them salute a couple more arcade classics Ė Frogger and Pac-Man.

Multiplayer really surprised me. Since your view is locked (i.e. thereís no mouse look and if you do tweak EE to enable it youíll get some weird results) I figured that deathmatch battles would be uneven Ė whoever controlled the high ground would have the advantage. This turns out not to be the case since there arenít many maps that have high ground to utilize. The weapon balanced is great. One of the most powerful weapons Ė the psy-cannon Ė damages the player using it unless theyíre running backward and away from the target. It gives it a plus/minus and will make players think before they pick it up. The freeze gun is obviously the gun of choice though because it locks other players in a block of ice, unable to move but able to shoot straight ahead. A good player with the freeze gun can easily take control of a game. There are two downsides to the multiplayer: it can be hard to find a good server and thereís only two modes of play Ė co-operative and deathmatch. (Co-operative lets you go through the missions with a buddy.) EE is just screaming for a CTF mode. Fortunately, thereís a complete set of tools to make your own levels. The flip side, of course, is that there hasnít been a big marketing campaign surrounding EE, meaning that a following of hardcore mod-makers might not develop. Itís too bad a CTF mode wasnít included.

There are some strange graphical anomalies during multiplay (e.g. some weapon effects switch on and off) but nothing that kills or crashes the game.

The short of it, X-COM Enforcer is a great fast-paced action (but repetitive) game that pays homage to a number of arcade games and will probably show up on the console side of the industry. Diehard X-COM fans might be shaking their heads wondering what went wrong, but for the action buffs, X-COM Enforcer is a good diversion from doing productive things.

- Omni

 

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