The war on drugs has nothing on this guy, a skinhead bad ass named Director Quinn, a one man army capable of destroying an entire drug cartel with nothing more than a pistol. Quin doesn’t take any shit in Narco Terror a brand new dual stick shooter from Deep Silver which was released on the Xbox Live Arcade recently.
This game is the epitome of over the top destruction. This top-down-ish dual stick shooter is over the top yet brilliant to play. It’s like I’ve been thrown into a late 90’s action movie starring Bruce Willis who’s intent on getting revenge on the evil bastard that stole his daughter. Well, that’s how I’m imagining it anyway.
My first experience of a dual stick shooter was the top-down Easter egg Zombies mode in the first Call of Duty: Black Ops, Dead Ops Arcade, so with Narco Terror I sort-of knew what to expect. At least I thought I did. From the offset Narco Terror is ultimately over the top, with the main protagonist Quinn chasing after a helicopter that’s just taken off. Our balding bad ass some how manages to leap through the downwash of air caused by the choppers rotors and thus the game begins.
Accompanied by a dubstep style soundtrack Narco Terror’s title screen allows you to choose from both a single player or a multiplayer game. The single player mode can then be played either by yourself, or with a second player if they push “start” in a real arcade-like fashion. Multiplayer is strictly for online mutliplayer games with anyone else who has the title, no matter if you’re a friend or not.
From the memory of Dead Ops Arcade me and my wife Hayley immediately jumped into a local two player game, something that I found pretty confusing due to the only way to tell the characters apart is by the colour of their uniforms (red or blue), at the same time you have to remember what colour your character actually is, I often spent around five minutes trying to control Hayleys character until I realised my character was stuck in a corner humping a car.
Gameplay in Narco Terror is just that, Terror. Almost everything can be destroyed in this game and enemies come at you from all angles, add that to the already confusing nature of the local co-op play and you’ve got a recipe for disaster – or so you’d think. This mental fast paced, overly exaggerated, mental gameplay is what makes Narco Terror a pretty brilliant game. It’s overly simplistic game controls – left stick to move, right stick to shoot in the direction you’re pointing – makes the game easy to jump in and out of and takes the often overly complicated need to concentrate when playing a first person shooter.
The game itself has a nostalgic arcade feel about it without it meaning to be. Perhaps it’s the dual stick controls that give it that arcade-like feel or it’s just me, but it really adds to the game.
The level design is fairly straight forward and linear but I didn’t expect anything different from a top-down shooter of this kind. The graphics however are something to be in awe about. From industrial docks to deep jungle camps the detail captured in each part of the level is second to none. From the smaller details like trees reacting with the wind to the larger more extravagant explosions this game is definitely something to be enjoyed visually.
The story itself isn’t something I actually paid much attention to but I don’t think it matters. All I really wanted to do was go to the next part and cause more explosive mayhem. I kinda have the gist of what the game is about though; Director Quinn initially went in with the intention to shut down the drug cartel only to find that they had captured his daughter in order to convince Quinn to let them go ahead with the trafficking. Along the way Quinn meets several different – yet unimportant – characters who both help him along his way by providing much needed information (usually at gunpoint) or offering some sort of service for being released from captivity from the cartel.
As far as features go the game is pretty simplistic, the two sticks are utilised for shooting and movement, the “A” button is used to jump, “X” is the action button, and “B” is for melee combat. The Left Bumper is used to roll out of the way quickly in order to dodge grenades, the Right Bumper is used for throwing grenades, the direction of which is decided by the direction your facing. Finally the two triggers are used for choosing your weapon and the weapon perks.
The Weapons are pretty simple, you have four which each have unlimited ammo, the only problem is, you need to find them first before you can use them. Using the Left Trigger you can choose either the Pistol, Shotgun, Assault Rifle, and Minigun – once you have them. This selection screen can also be used to upgrade your weapons provided you have the cash to do so – cash is earned by causing things to explode – these upgrades improve the fire rate, the amount of bullets fired, or other perks such as a laser sight so you now exactly where you’re aiming. The Weapon perks can be selected by using the Right Trigger in combination with a direction from the Right Stick.
Perks are constantly being dropped by dead enemies (along with medipacks). These perks can be added to your weapon to add extra damage to your gun. There are four perks in total, The Stun perk which electrocutes and stuns the enemy, the damage perk which I assume causes more damage, the fire perk which douses your enemies in flames when hit, and finally another perk which I’m not too sure what it is. The game is so fast paced I actually didn’t get enough time to discover what each perk actually did before the dialogue box disappeared. More than one perk can be activated at the same time making your rounds absolutely lethal, but you’ll have to keep an eye on the meter that each one has so they don’t all run out at once!
Along with the weapons you hold forever there’s occasionally a bad ass overly powered weapon just sitting around waiting for you to pick it up, weapons such as the Flamethrower and the Lasergun absolutely obliterate the enemy which leads to around five minutes of awesome chaos. There’s often certain parts of levels which require you to take control of a mounted minigun whilst you’re set upon by hoards of cartel gang members, some of which don full Juggernaut gear.
Hell, I almost forgot to mention the upward scrolling plane mode, that was an absolutely brilliant moment. At a certain point of the game Quinn enters a plane, expecting a cut scene I was quite surprised to find that there was no cutscene, but a classic arcade style upward scrolling plane shooter. This mode you had to avoid other planes, drones, and choppers who had a whole arsenal of shit to fire at you, not to mention the grounded SAM turrets. This added an entirely unique and refreshing interlude in the game which kept the overall gameplay pretty fresh.
Overall Narco Terror is a pretty fun game but it does have it’s flaws, more often than not much needed medipacks will disappear before you’ve even had a chance to get them, I’m not sure if this is a bug or a part of the game, but either way it’s frustrating as hell when you’re down to your last smidge of life, and it’s one of the larger medipacks which heal you fully. Thankfully though when you die the game begins close to where you began meaning that you can usually continue where you left off. It’s pretty fun to play and there’s more explosions than an accidental fire in a Chinese fireworks factory.
Narco Terror is available now on the Xbox Live Arcade, PC, and PlayStation 3.