Special Forces: Team X Review

In a post Aliens: Colonial Marines gaming climate, it is tough to label a shooter, or any game for that matter, as plain bad. That anticipated title took bad to a whole new level, which is partly the reason the review for Special Forces: Team X is a bit tough to write. This multiplayer only deathmatch has its ups and downs, but a serious lack of things to do and ways to do them weighs heavy on my mind. Is it Colonial Marines bad? Nope, no way. But I still can't recommend all but the most intense of online gamers give it a shot.

As I mentioned, Special Forces: Team X is a multiplayer-only online shooter in the vein of a Gears of War. There's the first problem: If you want to play this game, you'll need to be online and find others who also want to play. No single player, not even deathmatches with bots for practice, can be found anywhere in this package. I would have liked to see a campaign of some kind, even an abbreviated one used as a tutorial (there isn't one of those anywhere, by the way), but no dice on that. So it falls to the player to design a warrior from a decent selection of options and dive right in. And dive in you must; with no explanation on how to play or any way to experiment before matching with other players, you'll spend a few rounds just figuring out the controls and getting killed. Special Forces isn't rocket surgery, but that doesn't mean some kind of offshoot of the main battle wouldn't have been nice.

Once you do get things nailed down, you'll start to see the cracks almost immediately. Special Forces aims to be a cover-based shooter - like Gears of War, remember? - but the cover mechanic is beyond broken. Walls only have a spot or two that can be hopped over, which can equal a lot of shimmying around trying to find the sweet spot before you rush another player. Beyond that, there is no way to transition between high and low cover. If your character is behind low cover, you'll have to exit said cover, readjust and attach yourself to the higher cover, despite the two being essentially the same physical object. This isn't exactly intuitive under a hail of bullets, and smart players will no just how and when to exploit the weakness to get the better of their foes.

More annoying, though, is what I've taken to calling "The Adventure of Bayou Billy" durability. In that semi-classic NES game, enemies needed to be pummeled beyond all reasonable measure to even fall down, let alone die. Special Forces is the same way. Following behind a retreating player, pumping hundreds upon hundreds of bullets in him/her, isn't going to bring them down, surprisingly. Because these warriors can absorb so much punishment, it often makes sense for players to team up against a single player and shoot them from all sides... and even that might not be enough. As annoying as the necessity to pile up on others becomes, it is made worse by the feeling of persecution if you are the player on the end of a serious bit of hazing.

Special Forces: Team X does have its share of high points. The cel-shaded look of the characters is instantly appealing in a drab, boring shooter world, and the variety of available weapons (attack dogs!) makes for some interesting matches. Also, unlike some other budget shooters, XP and levels really do matter in advancing your character, and the whole experience is smooth and lag-free. But a smooth online experience and interesting aesthetics don't a great shooter make, and Special Forces: Team X just isn't that great. Still, it could be worse; you could have accidentally picked up Aliens: Colonial Marines instead.

Final Rating: 35%. About what you'd expect from a budget shooter, maybe less.


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