I’ve got attack dogs in my pocket.
Special Forces: Team X, or STX as it appears to be known, is the latest game to grace XBL from Zombie Studios, the guys behind Blacklight. The game is a multiplayer shooter which encourages teamwork, featuring “Gears of War” style gameplay and visuals that scream “Borderlands”. And it just makes me want to scream “Boo-Yah!!”, for some reason.
I don’t know. Maybe it is the map settings, which have an urban feel and bring paintballing to mind. Maybe it is the special weapons that are deposited in the game for players to find and unleash hell, such as the much advertised chainsaw. Or maybe, just maybe, it is that some of the character models, which all look surprisingly similar despite the myriad customisation options, wear shorts that make them look like postmen who are having a bad day. Either way, it is a distinctly “Boo-Yah!!” type of game.
The gameplay is your standard shooter fare, with a healthy cover system allowing players to hide behind objects and pop up to take down members of the opposite team/teams. It works reasonably well, the cover system can be a bit sketchy at times with the player actually missing the cover all together, and the weapons don’t feel like they have the same weight as in comparable games. But all in all it works, and leads to some very tense battles.
One of the strangest things offered in this game is the chance to take a pocket full of attack dogs with you into battle. Instead of throwing a grenade at an enemy, these dogs simply appear and then go running off to do what attack dogs do best. It’s a bit strange, but seemed quite popular in the games that I played.
The dogs are only part of a quite in-depth customisation and leveling up system within STX. As the player gains experience from battle, they unlock the chance to not only add different weapons to their load out, but also customise these weapons and the look of their character. Considering the number of cosmetic options that become available to the player, it is strange that so many characters still looked the same. Still, the options are there and if you really want to wear your cap back to front, you can.
The modes on offer are also pretty much what you would expect, with versions of all the standard modes on offer, such as team deathmatch, capture the flag and king of the hill. Besides the attack dogs, which are an interesting little gimmick, there really is very little to distinguish STX from many other shooters out there. But there is a shining light when it comes to the maps.
The maps in STX are modular. Each map is made up of three sections, and the players get to vote on which section they want in each position, creating a huge number of different maps. This leaves players to learn the individual sections of the map, rather than the maps themselves, and is a really nice idea, adding variety to the matches. However, the number of section options are too few to really make this a stand out feature of the game.
Visually, the game really has a “Marmite” thing going on. It is cel-shaded in a manner similar to Borderlands, but without the character. It is bright and everything is clear, but many will feel that it looks too cartoon-like to be taken seriously. Personally, I quite enjoyed the look, but I think opinions will be mixed on this one.
Priced at 1200 MSPoints, Special Forces: Team X is a reasonably good price for shooter fans. But without anything much to distinguish the game from all of the other shooters out there, it will be a hard sell. Pick it up if you just have to have another shooter in your arsenal, or if you fancy the idea of attack dogs in your pocket.