Contra: Shattered Soldier
The series that once defined shooters (and survived two horrendous PSi outings) is returning to form on the PS2. Shattered Soldier will remind old-timers of the glory days on 8- and 16-bit consoles, while newbies will finally understand why the Contra franchise is held in such reverence amongst geriatric gamers.
This is just mindless fun, which is what makes it so great. Forget mission objectives, solving puzzles or any of that crap. Just shoot...a lot. Your thumb will be glued to the fire button for the duration of Contra, taking a break only when you switch between the three weapons (see sidebar).
The coolest part of Shattered Soldier is the huge bosses youll face. It seems the developers have a special place in their hearts for the Transformers, because almost every giant robot here has two or more forms. Take the submarine boss early in the game, for example. You start off dodging incoming fire as it takes shots at you from the background, only to have it submerge and come up directly under the bridge youre on. Deal enough damage while its in front of you and itll transform into a helicopter. Now you have to run in below it and systematically take out turrets, engines and rotors, dismantling it to the point of destruction. And with a high boss count, the game delivers a lot of similar encounters.
For all you old-school gamers whore wondering, Shattered Soldier is no cakewalk. Youll find your controller slick with sweat after each level, and youll wonder just how you made it through that crazy crossfire or survived that screen-filling alien. And of course youll be able to bring along a buddy for simultaneously play throughout the game. In fact, thats the best way to go. Having someone covering your ass increases your chances of survival tenfold.
So put those bad PS1 memories behind you. Contra is back in a big way.
Download Contra: Shattered Soldier
Eight years. Eight trickin' years. That's how long we've had to wait for a "real" Contra, a series whose reputation has been tarnished by a couple of absolutely crap games on the PSi. What better way to save Contra than to bring back the team that made the original games such a success? A Herculean task, perhaps, but the developers are up to the job. All the signature Contra elements are here: two-player simultaneous run-and-gun action, a wide array of weapons, tons of bullet fodder and huge bosses. New to the series are special weapons you can charge up for more powerful effects, as well as a hit-percentage meter to track your path to total mastery of the game.
"I felt that the older Contra games were basically a collection of fun, but ultimately shallow, minigames," says Nobuya Nakazato, Shattered Soldier's director. "Even though the gameplay here is essentially 2D, the 3D graphics help make the game experience more seamless."