Published on August 12th, 2013 | by Scot Mackay0
XBLA Review – Narco Terror
Narco Terror explodes onto my screen in a hail of bullets, bombs and heavy metal. So far we are off to a good start. Next to appear is a Duke Nukem look-a-like hanging from the side of a helicopter. He has the shades, the charm and even the badass one liner’s. In fact, the only thing he is missing is the cigar and an explosion to walk away from …….. commence a short countdown….3…2….1…. “BA-BOOOOOM!!!!!”. The chopper goes down in flames and our hero struts his stuff better than John Travolta in skin tight trousers all the way to the start of the level. Now that’s the kind of intro I can get behind in a game. It instantly bitch slaps my eyes into submission and I think to myself “This is going to be good”.
Brought to the XBLA by the lovely people at Deep Silver and the Rubicon organization for the price of 800 MSP’s (£6.85), Narco Terror throws you in the deep end of a DEA sting on drug smugglers using submarines to move their cargo. Within minutes something has gone wrong, all hell has broken loose and your daughter has been kidnapped forcing you to cancel a government drone programme that has been pissing the cartel off lately. Instead of calling it a day and retiring to the local doughnut shop, our hero decides that the only way to get his daughter back….is to become an unstoppable killing machine that pisses bullets and craps grenades. So will it be just a jolly walk in the park then? Hell no. Thugs start flinging themselves at you from all angles with some coming in close with machetes and others being content at picking you off from a distance using weapons ranging from shotguns, grenades and miniguns.
Narco Terror is set up like a standard top down dual stick shooter. Using the left stick to move your character whilst utilising the right stick to direct your fire makes getting to grips with the game straightforward and you will be surprised at how nimble your thumbs can be. You are able to throw grenades using the right bumper and select various weapons by holding down the left bumper and flicking the right stick in the required direction. You also have the assigned dodge and jump buttons but more often than not, you will be standing your ground and dispensing more death than Harold Shipman in a nursing home.
With four slots for weapons and each of them being upgradeable, there is plenty of ways to keep your kill count increasing. Bullets are not your only friends though as you can use the destructive elements such as gas cylinders, vehicles and barrels of explosives which seem to litter each level purely because the health and safety man hasn’t been around for a nosey. There is also the ability to jump onto vehicle mounted weaponry for some added fire power, and if you still feel like you haven’t been able to cause enough damage on your own, well why don’t you invite a friend in to join you? With a fairly smooth drop in, drop out multiplayer, Narco Terror gives you that old school multiplayer experience which could only be improved by actually having your player two in the room with you. Just to add to the killing spree you have embarked on, there is also a nice selection of achievements which can be easily completed for a nice tidy little sum of Gamerscore, so let the bullets fly and watch your score rack up. Speaking of score, the more baddies you kill in a row, the bigger the multiplier for your score so a nice little tip is to coax the enemy out, back up into a nice little corner, switch to your upgraded shotgun and let them body breaking commence. It certainly worked for me.
Narco Terror demonstrates how a well-designed level can really make a game that has many repetitive actions seem like a new experience by simply changing the location or adding in a little bit of background action that makes the virtual world seem really engaging. There is a surprising amount of detail and depth throughout each level, Now I’m not talking The Mona Lisa of video games but it is a good indication that the creators of the game took their time to add the finer details and really put in the effort into supplying a great quality game. Explosions litter the screen and feel satisfying each time they occur, which is just as well really because this game makes all of the explosions from every 90’s action flick look less powerful than a ducks fart.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working my way through Narco Terror and was pleasantly surprised with what it offered. I was reminded of the old Sega Mega Drive game “Mercs”, which followed a very similar formula and play style with colourful environments and action packed combat spaces. Everything about this game focusses on it being a non-apologetic shooter with the action at its core and a simple plot line to follow which pushes you along at a nice pace with well-crafted short cut scenes.
Now in the interests of being fair and honest the only things that I could find that I didn’t like about Narco Terror was the use of invisible barriers to keep you on the linear play path. Now I understand that I’m not expecting to have an open world from horizon to horizon but surely in this day and age, developers can just use a fence or a vehicle, maybe even the humble crate to stop your character going in an undesired direction. Another thing that bugged me was the actual sound effect used for the pistol. It sounded like a mixture between a marooned fish gulping for air and the sound of a Thai lady shooting ping pong balls from her ladyboy bits. Other than that…..I bloody loved it.
Summary: If your looking for some fantastic action by yourself or with a friend, then this could be the game for you. A nice throwback to some of the 90's action games and well worth its value. Very enjoyable.