Monday, June 30, 2008

Wolf of the Battlefield XBLA Review

My super awesome amazing mind blowing blockbuster review of Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is up! It may keep you entertained for longer than the game itself. Am I exaggerating? Go look!

C'mon just go!
UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:

While, I have to admit I have never even heard of Wolf of the Battlefield, I've always been a giant shoot 'em up fan, so I was very eager to get to play Wolf. Wolf is a top down shooter, in the style of the Smash T.V. It really helps reinforce the idea that shmup (Shoot 'em up) games are making a comeback in a big way. But does Wolf of the Battlefield have the right stuff to stick out among dozens of other similar games, or will it end up being remembered as just the price of admission to the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Beta?

As summed up by Capcom, “General Ratiev, evil leader of the Zalestad nation must be stopped.” Really, could not have said it better myself. Of the three characters you can choose to play as “a grizzled former marine”. One of those far too common mysterious characters with a empty record and mad skills. Or my favorite, the “Cranky Vet”. Now obviously if you know anything about shmups it's that you don't play them for their thought provoking and intricate story. You do it for the thrill of the kill.

Here it is, what you came for. Does it live up to its price tag, to its promise of a classic arcade style experience? Uhm... Kind of, let me explain. While the game is fairly entertaining at first, it just doesn't have enough depth to keep you interested. Their aren't any cool gimmicks to change things up, or any of that crazy lightning-fast, tough as hell shmup gameplay that is popular in so many of the genre. This is pretty much the genre at its basic level.

While there are vehicles you can take control of, the controls where very frustrating while in them, and that really sucked the life out of the whole idea. There are, from what I can tell, five weapons in the game, a machine gun, a double machine gun, a rocket launcher, a flame thrower, a shotgun. This is a pretty average number for the games in the genre, but more would be appreciated. Also worth mentioning, the bosses where nothing spectacular on any level. They basically boiled down to the same thing they do in most games of the type, dodge bullets while shooting your own. Even thought basically a curse of the genre, it still came across as lazy on the developers part for not trying to change it.

Despite all of it's shortcomings, I have to admit that I had fun with this game. It's not too engaging, the story bored me to death, their was no real depth, and the boss fights where pretty much a major drag, the game still had a old-school charm that I cannot deny. Repetition is what really brought down the score in this department. The whole game pretty much comes down to the “Take the first level, throw a new environment on it, then reuse” formula. Which some may be bothered by more than others.

While it may be obvious to fans of this genre, I can say with confidence that this is a game that is substantially better when played with friends. This game allows up to 3-players at once. Why 3? I am not entirely sure, but that's what it is. It works though. While still not kicking this game up too excellence in the fun department, your friends will make things more bearable, distracting you from the shortcomings and leaving you to focus on shooting the hell out of everything you see, which is always a nice way to spend a hour or two. On the topic of multiplayer, I have heard many reviewers say that the game got too clustered, but I never felt like that during my playtime, even with all 3 spots filled. I was however frustrated when two of my friends entered a vehicle and I was unable to get in because they where too busy running things over.

Still, co-op games are always fun, if you plan on picking this up, at least make sure you have two friends willing to play with you, because it's always a blast to get a group of guys together to overcome a challenging game together. Contra is proof that a game can last hours and hours despite its length as long as it has difficulty and co-op. Which Wolf has to some extent, and is fun- to an extent.

Now, the music in the game is nothing amazing, nothing standout, pretty much like the rest of the game, its very standard. Same with the sound effects. Same old same old. Not too much I can say for it that I haven't already said about the rest of the game. There's nothing crazy here, and certainly nothing you'll be putting on your iPod anytime soon.

Carrying over from the sound and gameplay department, the controls are also very standard. They adapt the left stick moves right stick shoots mechanics that are very popular on XBLA. While I had no problem with them during the majority of gameplay, when I entered a vehicle I was immediately frustrated. The controls are just very clumsy and ruin the whole fun of driving.

The graphics are... well for the majority, average. The animations, while not silky smooth, never add nor do they detract from the experience. Such can be said for environments, effects, and character models. They do their job and that's it. Nothing too fancy. The game doesn't go over the top and try to wow you. It just uses the visual representation to get the gameplay across and nothing more. Sadly, the mediocrity doesn't transfer to every part of the visual department. The art style is, in my opinion the worst part of the presentation. Peoples opinions will vary on the style, but its really just not my cup of tea... at all. Just look at it. I'd at least like to imagine that I'm playing as somebody cool. *sigh*

So pretty much what I've been saying all along, Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 is average. No way around it. That is the best possible way to describe this game. It's just a forgettable experience. While I would advise you spend your money on one of the other great games on the XBLA like Ikaruga or Rez, maybe even Geometry Wars if your in the shmup mood, I won't say this is a horrible game. I will say that it was a fun little distraction, and that for all its flaws it is still a classic arcade experience at heart, but the failure to break onto new territory further away from the classic experience is one of the biggest problems. If you want to waste a evening with a couple friends, you could do better for 800 Microsoft Points, but you could also do much worse.

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