Friday, January 11, 2008

Elite Forces: Jungle Strike

Apologies to anyone who logged onto the site on Wednesday, expecting a review. I got called down to Cork for a job interview because I had a moment of total madness and thought it was the only chance I'd ever have of working ever again. But I'm better now. On a totally unrelated note, if you're thinking of buying a funny t-shirt, you could do worse than click on the banner at the top of this page. Yeah, that's right, I advertise during reviews now.

So anyway, now that I'm done shilling offensive t-shirts, I can get on with reviewing Elite Forces: Jungle Strike. Actually, at first I couldn't tell if it was "Jungle Strike" or "Mission Jungle", but either way it's one big unoriginal lame fest. The story behind this platform shoot 'em up is that a small meteorite fell in a jungle somewhere, but apparently it was one of those jungles where various forces spend their merry days eating bananas and killing each other, so there was no investigation into the crashed piece of space rock. Several years later, after the various forces have either killed each other or succumbed to dysentery, weird things start to happen so a team is sent to investigate. Then, and I quote:

"On the way there horrible things occur and only two people survive: a sportswoman who flied to Sochi for the Olympic Games and an elite commando."

Excuse me? This is the most random thing I've read all week. At first I thought it was the mother of all typos, but apparently Sochi is a city in Russia that will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Oh, I see, we're in the future! Got it. There's no real need to, but if you like you can enter your name:

Childish? Yes. But also a good description for what I was about to play - a big bowl of turgid douche.

You can play as the girl, who's name is Kate, or the commando, Thug. I went with Thug, because like him I too am a macho manly man. I also like to think that an elite commando named Thug is a great metaphor for US foreign policy for the last decade. But then I read metaphors for US foreign policy in episodes of Invader Zim.

The controls are nothing to write home about, with the usual WASD group to control movement (I'll soon tell you why you need an Up button in a 2-D game), Space to jump (like a fucking grasshopper) and Shift to fire your rifle. Why anyone would select the Shift key for "fire" in a game like this is beyond me. Mac users may have nothing to worry about, but I'm on a PC, and as anyone who's used a PC will tell you, if you press Shift too many times a dialog box will pop up, asking if you want to to enable Sticky Keys. No, I don't want to enable Sticky Keys, I'm trying to shoot this generic black-clad terrorist.

Wow, I'm impressed. Not by the actual enemy, of course, but by the balls on the developers who figured they'd make a game that looks pretty good and then fill it full of moronic trigger happy ADHD sufferers who run around practically yelling, "Shoot me! Shoot me!" at you. And I would, too, if my Google toolbar would stop popping up at inopportune moments. Jesus, I do not want to enable Sticky Keys!

The guys throwing grenades are the only ones that prove a real challenge. That's because it doesn't matter where you're standing as long as you're within their range. They'll lob a grenade through a steel wall and it will still land right on top of you. And that's a serious flaw, one that I won't let slide - your bullets aren't capable of going through dirt, but the terrorists have some kind of armour piercing round that can run right through anything.

Your goal in each level is to reach the cave, which you enter by pressing that Up button. You can also press Up to dodge bullets, like this is the Matrix, or something. Personally, I find if you're face to face with a bad guy, you should just drop to your knees and blast a few caps in his stomach, especially as they're too stupid to do the same. Strangely, no matter how many times you enter a cave, the next level is just more jungle. One would normally assume that entering a cave means having to walk through it until you reach the other side, the sort of level you find in thousands of shoot 'em ups. But I suppose building something that wasn't jungle would have taken up too much time. And it is Jungle Strike, after all.

So I was waiting for the next level to load, when what should I see but:

It's an advertisement. In the game! They've actually put ads between the levels. And yes, I know it's a mite hypocritical of me to point this out, seeing as how I did the pretty much the same in the first paragraph of this review, but still - advertisements while you're actually playing the game. It's almost as if Blitz Gamer realised just how shitty Elite Forces: Jungle Strike was and resorted to offering slightly better games as some sort of consolation.

Man, you better really like jungles, because that's all you're getting. I just wanted to point out two things. First, you'll occasionally find these toxic barrels that you can blow up for no real reason. Secondly, don't you just love that hero pose Thug strikes when he's not walking or shooting little brown people?

Every now and again you'll come across these transporter-like platforms, and they can drop you in areas of the playing field that you wouldn't have otherwise been able to get to. But this first one just seems to drop you out about five feet away into thin air. I could have jumped out there on my own - why did they feel the need to include a transporter? Was it an attempt to show us what they do? Isn't that what help sections are for? You can play this game in three languages, but they can't even tell you what everything does before you do.

Like any good platformer, Elite Forces: Jungle Strike has ladders, but instead of climbing them (after all, that's what an Up button is for) you have to jump and then you can climb them. Not that you really need to, because you have the leg power of a flea and besides, you're totally defenceless when you're on them.

I could go on, mentioning the translucent mines that mean you have to stare closely at the screen so you don't step on one, or the ninjas(?) that you always seem to miss, or the fact that the colour scheme means everything blends into everything else, but I'd like to think you've heard enough not to bother with this bollocks. After all, why would you want to play this boring, unimaginative, clich├ęd waste of time when you can play Metal Slug - on the beach?

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