Special Forces: Team X
Developer: Zombie Studios/Microprose
Publisher: Atari
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 2-12 online-only.
Words By:

Special Forces Team X (STX) is a third person multiplayer online-only shooter. The first thing that strikes you is the visual style. It's got a comic book, cel-shaded effect similar to Borderlands’ and used with great success in games such as Jet Set Radio, Dark Cloud 2, The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Prince of Persia and the Darkness 2. It looks really nice and is a break from the realist approach offered by most shooters. The game types are your typical selection; Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Control Point (Domination), Hot Zone (King of the Hill) and HVT (High Value Target.) TDM and Control Point are my favourites, but all game types encourage close-quarters team play, and communication, as always in squad and team-based games, really helps.

Map selection has a nice twist. Instead of separate map choices you're faced with choosing three parts of the map from multiple choices, making over 100 possible combinations. I thought that was a pretty cool idea; it adds plenty of variation yet means you’re never going to be too familiar with a map, and I won't be surprised if it starts cropping up in other games. STX features the now standard player XP-based progression for unlocking new guns, abilities and clothing. A major complaint I’d have here that is unless you’re going to play STX and nothing but for the next month or so, levelling up and unlocks (customisable active skills, new weapons and gear) come really slowly. However, the game plays really well, matches last a sensible time 5-10 minutes) with nicely designed and laid out maps and a good, solid feel to the weapons.

I had a lot of fun using the cover mechanic which has a “sticky” style a bit like Gears of War’s or Mass Effect’s. The way your character snaps to a wall is almost identical to Gears, and like Gears you have no “jump” button and can only hurdle certain low obstacles. This mechanic, the mastering of which is a major part of being successful in the game, works quite well but has a few surfaces that look like you should be able to take cover on, but irritatingly you can't. Couple this to a lack of shoulder swap (changing the view angle from one side to the other) can mean you have to totally expose yourself to fire to get a shot at the enemy, when in many other games of the ilk you wouldn’t.

You start off every life as your custom class but can find the odd special weapon lying around in the form of an RPG, Minigun and a chainsaw (gotta love a chainsaw!) There are also unlockable attack dogs that act like homing missiles, but their doggy AI seems a bit lacking at times and they just stand around like statues. The action is fast-paced and brutal; you can blow enemies’ heads clean off, and grenades fling enemies way into the air. In terms of the pace of play, STX is definitely more like CoD than anything else, more of a ‘twitch shooter’ than any other third-person shooter out there.

Obviously the most important thing about any online game is network performance and I'm happy to say I had no hassle joining, creating or playing the game. Which is a thing I can't say about some other online-only shooters (I'm looking at you CS:GO). Every game connected first time and all were lag free.

So it looks nice, plays nice and has no network issues. What's the catch? Well, apart from the map selection style STX doesn't really offer anything new, and the same old basic game modes are trotted out time and time again. That said Special Forces: Team X is a well made game and I did have good fun playing it, and let’s face it, it's a decent alternative if you’re getting bored of CoD and BF3 and want to try something else. In a sentence, it’s like a happy marriage of Gears of War and Counter-Strike.

Best Bits

- Plays really well.
- Lots of player progression.
- Cool map selection idea.
- It's not BF3/COD/Halo or Gears.
Worst Bits

- It's online only, no solo campaign.
- Painfully slow progression.
- A bit pricey at 1200 MSP (but the quality is apparent.)
- No original game types.
- It's not BF3/COD/Halo or Gears.

by: SteMacD

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