Title: CT Special Forces
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Publisher: Hip Games
CT Special Forces came out in January 2004 with the usual hoopla of a Game Boy Advance title not headlined by a major Nintendo icon. Which is no hoopla at all, in case you were wondering. That is very unfortunate, because GBA owners are missing out on a great game for a great system that doesn’t get the respect that it deserves.
CT(Counter-Terrorist) Special Forces is a throwback to the old arcade game Metal Slug, which itself spawned several console successors, and will soon have a GBA version(which will probably be reviewed here as well). Special Forces is a side-scrolling shooter in which you take on the role of counter-terrorist agents out to rid the world of the most powerful terrorist cells. In each of the four worlds you will infiltrate enemy installations, blast apart terrorist ground forces in a helicopter, and free hostages in sniper mini-games. The variety of gameplay is what really sets CT Special Forces apart from most other side-scrolling shooters, and keeps the game from stagnating and becoming dull.
The graphics resemble the old Metal Slug games quite strongly, which isn’t a problem in my opinion because those games looked very good. You play as two different CT operatives, one clad in a gas mask and winter gear, the other in jungle fatigues. The enemies are different in each world, including parka-clad troops styled after Russians, jungle raiders resembling South American guerrillas, and of course the obligatory brown guys, most of which resemble Saddam Hussein. The chopper levels look very good, with the buildings on the ground suffering from different levels of ruination, as well as rivers running through some parts of the stages.
Gameplay is split into three basic types: side-scrolling levels, chopper levels, and sniper mini-games. The side-scrolling levels are the majority of the game and involve running around large and well-detailed environments searching for terrorist leaders to arrest(you can kill them if you want, but arresting them awards an extra life) or the item that you need to get to the next part of the area, such as a grappling hook or parachute. Of course, each of these stages is packed with enemy troops whose purpose in life is to shoot you or blow you into small pieces, and herein lies the meat and potatoes of the gameplay. Each foe requires a different strategy to defeat. Some fire high and require you to crouch and shoot, some fire low and require you to hurdle their bullets before you can kill them, and some fire chain guns, missiles, or mortars at you. The mix of run-and-gun action and deciding which weapon works best on which enemy is very satisfying and makes a stage different each time you play it.
The chopper levels involve flying a military helicopter into enemy territory, usually to drop off your CT operative into a new environment. The terrorists won’t make this easy, however, and send their own helicopters to dogfight with you. In addition, tanks fire at you from the ground and anti-aircraft batteries lauch homing missiles that take a huge chunk out of your health unless you can blow them out of the sky before they detonate. Straying from the beaten path is encouraged by health power-ups scattered in out of the way areas, although you will usually have to go through a tank or six to get to them. Sniper areas are a mid-level diversion during side-scrolling stages and require you to pick off a designated amount of terrorists within a time limit(usually two minutes). The terrorists are tricky, however, and will hide in buildings or behind obstacles in the environment to avoid being killed, only to pop out and shoot at you when you aren’t looking. In addition to killing all of the bad guys, freeing five hostages in a sniper area will earn you an extra life, which is good since I usually die at least once during these sections.
CT Special Forces is a blend of throwback gameplay with modern style, a satisfying combo that will keep gamers coming back for more. And, before I forget, keep an eye out for CT Special Forces 2, which features even more old school terrorist busting action.
Hits and Misses
+ Detailed graphics
+ Good variety in gameplay
+ Difficult but not to the point of being frustrating
– Only 12 levels
– All of the weapons used by CT operatives look the same