There’s no I in team!
Even soldiers need friends sometimes. When the job description presumably features the phrase ‘Will get shot at’, it must be quite useful knowing that there is something watching your back.
Special Forces :Team X is the new release from Zombie Studios (of Blacklight fame), and in a nutshell, is a team based third person shooter. Group action is the name of the game, and there is not a single player mode in sight. This is multi-player all the way, and it is going in all guns blazing.
A quick glance shows a game that is visually inspired by Borderlands. Realistic yet cell-shaded, and actually very good to look at. No issues with texture at all, everything is smooth, and the level of detail is excellent. The levels themselves are quite basic, and technically there is only actually one level. The difference comes from the level being made of 3 separate zones. There are a variety of different level pieces that are voted for by the players before a match, meaning that there are several different combinations that can happen. They do still come across as a bit ‘samey’, and some different scenery (Jungle, snow etc) would have livened up the choices a little bit.
The playable characters are at a similar level of customisation. There are a couple of basic templates, and these are further modified with a variety of clothing options. Whilst there is not a vast number of options, there is enough to make a character that is ‘your own’.
Gameplay is based around a typical shooter. Standard weaponry includes the humble AK-47, to the more exotic attack dogs and chainsaws. There are a variety of match options, featuring the standard deathmatch, and ranging to things like most valuable player (where one players death pays out more points than his team-mates’. What sets this apart is the team based motivations. A score bonus is added to players that stay with their kin. Players in SF:TX tend to be more resilient than in other shooting games, so having multiple players shooting at the same target is the best way to start racking up kills and winning games. Annoyingly though, there is minimal explanation of this quite important detail, which means that nine times out of ten, players just run off in opposite directions. A brief tutorial would have been useful. This is only a minor gripe however, and hopefully players will pick this up on their own. XP is awarding for the usual things, a certain amount of kills, melee kills etc. There are also some challenges which give bonuses which are good to aim for.
There some annoying issues, noticeably with the cover system and object interaction. The cover is hit and miss to say the least, with the player quite often just not going behind the desired object. Add this to the times when the character does go in to cover when they aren’t actually meant to, and it can turn into a farce quite quickly. Jumping over objects is equally as irregular, with walls seemingly having a ‘sweet spot’ which is the only point that can be leaped. The final issue, which will probably affect more than others, is that it is pretty difficult to work out which character is on which team. The characters are in a standard camo colour scheme, and the only icon is a very small triangle above their head. In areas with multiple people shooting, it is very difficult to distinguish, especially as one team colour is red, and another in orange. Often, players will be running with another character shooting away, before realising 30 seconds later that they are with an enemy, not a team mate. As amusing as this sounds, this is something that could have been avoided.
Special Forces: Team X is an unexpected treat, and on paper, it should have been a lot worse. There are some technical problems, but at the core is a solid game. Whilst it is probably not enough to lure in the hardcore COD or MW fans, it looks like there could be a fan base developing. Potentially, this could become a cult game akin to the likes of Team Fortress. Some additional maps and patches in the near future however would go a long way.