Contra: Legacy of War
Many video game enthusiasts may remember the game Contra for the 8-Bit Nintendo Entertainment System. It's a basic side-scrolling shooter that's considered one of the best classics of the genre. Since then, many sequels followed on several systems (including the Game Boy, Super NES and Sega Genesis-see Behind the "'creens sidebar). Some were worthy follow-ups, some were disappointments to fans of the series. Now for the first time, the company that has been bringing us all these Contras, Konami, is bringing the saga to the 32-Bit arena. Soon, PlayStation [and later, Saturn) owners will be the first to taste what Konami hopes will be a new era of Contras.
No one doubted that a 32-Bit Contra game would be made. After all, the previous installments collectively sold over 4 million units worldwide. The question is, will this new sequel live up to its predecessors?
It's really too early to fairly judge right now. Randy Severin, senior product manager at Konami, isn't too wild about what he sees so far. He thinks that some of the levels are too bright and colorful, and some of the Bosses are not menacing enough. He knows that the first 32-Bit Contra title will be an important one for Konami, and he wants to make sure it comes out just right. The screen shots that you see on these pages, therefore, are subject to change.
But one thing that remains clear is that Legacy of War will follow the same tried-and-true formula that made the other Contra games so successful. Basically, shoot anything and everything in sight. It's mindless and redundant, but hey, it's still fun.
The weapons that you'll see remain the same as in older Contras (see Gamer's Edge sidebar). The action, like we said, will stay the same as well. This time though, we'll get to see 3-D textured-mapped environments. The levels look large and open, but your playing area will stay confined to a linear path.
Konami wants to take 3-D a step further and make a new visual option. This option is supposed to provide, "...an intense, lifelike combat experience, when viewed through 3-D glasses," as stated by Konami. Not much is known about this 3-D Mode, though it looks like what the old NES racing game, Rad Racer, attempted in the past-blurry red and blue images that didn't make anything three dimensional. Let's hope Konami stays away from this kind of cheap ploy.
Other features offered include the choice of four different fighters, each with some weapons unique to him/her. Also, the selection of vehicles available has expanded to include tanks, jeeps, hover-crafts, helicopters and planes.
Of course, you'll be able to play two players at once. It wouldn't be a Contra game otherwise (let's forget about the Game Boy versions for argument's sake).
Konami is trying to make sure that this new Contra will do the series proud. Often today, many companies get excited at the 32-Bit machines' graphical capabilities. Too much effort is put into making next-generation games look great, and the value of fun gameplay is pushed to the back burner. Fans will never put up with this for the first 32-Bit Contra, so Konami had better make sure their finished product is top-of-the-line!
- MANUFACTURER - Konami
- DIFFICULTY - MODERATE
- THEME - Shooter
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
Konami continues its hardcore shooting tradition with a new Contra game for the PlayStation. Contra Legacy is a fast-shooting, bullet-ridden action test--complete with weapon power-ups, huge screen-filling bosses, and dazzling rendered backgrounds. Although the version we saw had only one level, it looks like an appealing game so far, and fans of the series probably won't be disappointed.
Contra: Legacy of War has some innovative elements, but they never really come together in this action shoot-em-up.
Using a overhead view, Legacy has some cool-looking stages and four characters to choose from, each with different weapons and characteristics. However, the game may be too hard even for genre veterans, with its swarming enemies at every turn and huge bosses (including giant turtles and junk creatures). Another problem is the controls--they occasionally produce imprecise jumps.
Legacy is a solid action title, but its flaws keep it from being a real contender.
- In Stage 2, you can play classic arcade games In one of the huts at the top of the screen.
- Tasha and Ray are the best characters--they have the strongest homing lasers and guided missiles.
- In Stage 3, when the river serpent drops its brood on your raft, stand by an edge. When the little worms crawl toward you, jump and they'll fall off the raft Into the water.
Colorful rendered surroundings are the highlights, but the characters look awkward-especially while they're crouching on the ground. There are some excellent visual effects, such as a wavy ride down a river and a giant running scorpion.
The rapid-fire weaponry and explosions are marginal at best, brought down by wimpy death screams and muted gunfire. However, the pounding music goes well with the various war zones.
The imprecise jumps are the game's most frustrating problem-one false step and you could take a hit The game is also riddled with slowdown that throws off your timing.
Legacy has fast blasting action, the trademark of any Contra game. However, the steep difficulty and loose jumps reduce the overall enjoyment.
The classic arcade and 16-bitseries has now made the jump to 32-bit. For those of you not familiar with the Contra series, the game places you, with the option of a second player, in the middle of a war zone against aliens and other commandos. You are armed with a number of weapons and can pick up secret weapons, invincibilities and grenades to help in your quest to make it out alive.
The story of Legacy of War begins in 1957. A large object lands near a lost Mayan city. This object is dismissed by scientists as a trivial cosmic occurrence. Then, in 1987, rumors of frightened villagers in the Amazon River area talking of a strange being with an army of alien warriors, reach the Pentagon. Two of the most elite Special Forces agents are sent out to survey the situation. They deal with a threat known as the Red Falcon. Our two heroes put a stop to the Red Falcon and its attempt at taking over the earth. In 1990, the Red Falcon shows its face again, this time with other alien allies. This time, Red Falcon attempts to use biological contaminates to turn U.S. forces into his soldiers. Once again our heroes are dispatched and control the situation. Some time in the not-too-distant future, the Black Viper is sent to do what the Red Falcon was unable to accomplish -- take over the earth. This time, only one of the heroes is sent in and manages to defeat the Black Viper unaided. Numerous other adventures lead us to where we are today.
This is where we step into the picture. The evil, power hungry, Colonel Bassad has become the dictator of a small country. Through his secret intelligence forces, Bassad learns that during the alien wars in the past, a security guard at a military base smuggled out an alien embryo. Upon learning this, Bassad contacted the security guard and purchased the embryo and used it to breed an army of alien mutants. With his newly created army, Bassad will stop at nothing less than world domination, and it is believed that he is working with alien allies and has a whole army waiting in the wings. This time, four special forces members have been dispatched to resolve the situation. Only two can go in at a time, so you will need to select the best agents for the job. The job is plain and simple. Put an end to the Legacy of War.
Contra: Legacy of War is an action, adventure and shooter title wrapped in one package. You trek along a predetermined path and kill everything you come across. This game fits the mold of the popular 2D side-scroller with some added flair. You have four characters to choose from and can play with two players simultaneously. The object of the game is very simple: Go in, kick butt, get out. Somewhere in between, you have to stay alive. There are massive amounts of enemies stacked up to stop you. Believe me, this is not an easy game.
Let's take a look at the characters available for stopping the enemy. The first character is Ray. Ray is one of the best characters to play. He has a good selection of weapons and has seen extensive amounts of combat. The next available character is Tasha. She is one of the few special agents that is female. She also has decent weapons but always seems to die faster than the others. Thirdly, you can select CD-288. It is the second best character available. This Cyborg is durable and deadly. The last character available is Bubba. Bubba is an alien that has been fighting wars for many years. He is the third best character available.
Now that you have selected your character, it is time to take the mission head on. Contra has a total of six levels that must be completed to finish the game. Now, I know you are thinking that six levels sounds easy. Let me just say that all six levels are very difficult, even on the easy setting. It is almost like Konami decided that people got the feel of the game playing the 16 bit versions so let's just stick the players straight into the fire. You barely have time to figure out which way to start walking before you are attacked by aliens from every direction. If you manage to survive the first wave, the second is even more difficult. This is the cause of my biggest complaint about Contra. The designers have tried to pack too much activity on the screen at once. We all know what that means -- slowdown. It is particularly bad in the two-player mode and makes the game quite difficult to play at times.
Throughout the levels, weapon power-ups can be found behind walls and obtained from Falcon power-ups that fly across the screen. Each of the characters has four classes of weapons. The first two are the machine gun and flame thrower. These are the same for all characters. When you get into the third and fourth level characters, the advantages of particular characters becomes evident. For example, Ray's fourth level weapon is a homing laser. This is the coolest and most destructive weapon available. Also found along the way are Super Bombs and temporary shields. Collect everything you can, because you'll definitely need it.
As an added little bonus, Contra comes with a pair of 3D glasses and can be played in a true 3D mode. The colors are very limited, but this is a cool idea. The game seems more difficult in this mode because the backgrounds tend to blend together but for an extra little goodie, this is all right. You will probably only play in the 3D mode a few times just to check it out and show your friends when they come over, but when you want to start kicking serious butt, you will go back to the good old regular mode.
The graphics on Contra are sharp and detailed. They are nothing overly spectacular, but they get the job done. There is a definite problem with slowdown when too much action is happening, but this only happens occasionally. The enemies and bosses are very creative, and I found myself enjoying the ingenuity behind each one. Contra has some cool explosions and serious destruction, but has not jumped on the blood-and-guts bandwagon. The 3D mode is a great little bonus, but just take it for what it is and don't expect too much. Like I said before, the glasses are neat, but it's too difficult to really play through the game wearing them.
Contra: Legacy of War is another good title in one of the longest running game lines in all of the gaming world. For fans of the previous Contra titles, you will not be disappointed. The two-player mode makes this game. Without it, it would not be nearly as good. The game is very difficult and you will find yourself frustrated more than once. The seemingly endless number of bosses on each level is a bit ridiculous, but if you do somehow manage to survive, you can definitely say you earned it. The slowdown and sometimes-quirky controls keep this from being a great title, but it is definitely a good one worth checking out.