X-COM: Enforcer Review
publisher: Hasbro Interactive
P233, 32MB RAM, 500MB HDD, 3D accelerator
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Apr 18, 01 (released)
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X-COM -- what X-COM?
X-COM Enforcer... Microprose may've as well named it: Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment: Enforcer, or X-Files: Enforcer, or Babe Ruth's Final Homerun: Enforcer. This game has absolutely nothing to do with the X-COM license, except that it has the word "X-COM" slapped on the game box. X-COM: Enforcer has as much to do with the X-COM license, as Ultimate Fighting has with an epic story like Spartacus. Sure, you get to tear other people's limbs off in both events, even though a ring doesn't resemble the Roman Coliseum all that much, but Spartacus had a point. It had a human side (which was so brilliantly portrayed by Kirk Douglas), and Ultimate Fighting is just that -- two men grabbing each other by the balls, and doing the "odd dance" on the canvas.
Enforcer is a straight-out, no holds barred, 3rd person retro arcade shooter with a console twist (which means no save game option during the missions). The X-COM phenomenon is used just to attract your attention, and maybe trick a few consumers - fans of the old X-COM games into buying an arcade shooter. That's about it, and the fact that you get to mow down tons of wacky looking alien beings. One cannot help, but compare Enforcer with the recently released shooter by Croteam, Serious Sam. Both of these titles have the exact same premise: bombard the players with tons of opponents and hope they have a blast / adrenaline surge. But there are several reasons why this concept doesn't work in Enforcer as well as it does in Serious Sam. First of all, there's the price tag. You can buy Serious Sam for $19.99, while X-COM: Enforcer goes for $30 bucks. Now, this could be justified if X-COM: Enforcer was a better game than Croteam's puppy, but it is not.
Neither of the games support any kind of storyline (or AI for that matter). You start off in medias res, so to speak --- everything around you is crumbling, while a mad MDK2-like scientist is explaining how he has no time to explain the dire situation. Players are cast in a role of a rather medium-sized robot with a task of saving the Earth from the alien scum; and saving a few helpless humans along the way. And just like in Duke Nukem and Serious Sam, the Enforcer gets to say (in this case exceedingly stupid) one-liners like: "Die Alien Scum!" The fact that X-COM: Enforcer has no storyline (or AI) shouldn't tick you off though, because none of these arcade shooters ever do. What should concern you in this case are things like: level design, how challenging the game is, and how the challenges, or the lack of thereof affect the gameplay balance.
X-COM: Enforcer is powered by the Unreal engine, and we all know that it can dish out some very nice and colorful environments. So, why in the hell did I get the impression that every level in X-COM: Enforcer looks so uniformly grayish (when they actually do not)? There are tons of "levels" in this game, including: city streets, public garages, shopping malls, and even mountain passes, but looking at all of them in retrospect, I must say they evoke the feeling of bland level design (I'm focusing more on my overall impressions rather than trying to form an opinion based on every single level I've played). Sure, there are a few levels where this is not the case (dynamic lighting helps in those regards), but on the whole, I primarily visualize the levels in Enforcer in various shades of gray. Moreover, the actual level design is highly repetitive through a good portion of the game, with similar structures and a similar combination of outdoor and indoor environments. Serious Sam provided us not only with shiny-happy Egyptian environments, but with a good mix of significantly different gloomy and misty levels as well. Meaning, it had variety in level design -- something that Enforcer seems to lack to a degree.
Lots of nice enemies; spectacular explosions and a whole lot of shooting. Multitude of weapons and power-ups;
Repetitive level design with too many gray tones; not challenging enough, weapons balance off.