Contra: Shattered Soldier
Game Info
Playstation 2
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Animated Blood, Violence
The Good

• Fast-Paced, brutal shooting action
• The graphics and sound that the series deserves

The Bad

• Newbies won't appreciate a game like this
• A tad on the repetitive side


Most shooter fans over the age of 20 should remember the acclaimed Contra series for the arcade, Nintendo and Super Nintendo. People loved it for the fast-paced run and gun action and frustrating difficulty. But after the 16-bit days, the series to a long downward spiral with the release of Contra: Legacy Of War for the Playstation. Most fans blamed the new developer, and 3D graphics for this atrocious disaster. Thankfully, Konami takes the series back to it's roots and brings back the classic gameplay.

The story follows a battle-hardened hero, Bill, who has been cryogenically frozen, but brought back to find the mastermind behind an evil plan of alien invasion. Fans may remember Bill as Player 1 of the original Contra. He killed his partner Lance, and wiped out 80% of the world's population. After the horrific incidents, he was ordered to 10,000 years of confinement in a cryogenic facility. After the country realizes he's their only hope for survival, they send him on another mission to save a world on the brink of destruction.

The gameplay is faithful to the 2D Contras, except with 3D models and new missions. Instead of collecting power-ups, you start out with your only 1 gun, but you can cycle through 3 secondary weapons to lay your opponents to waist. But it's a crying shame that the title is very repetitive. The lack of innovation hurts the game's overall score.

The Contra Series is tougher than ever. You get 3 lives at the beginning of each mission, every time you bump, or get hit by an enemy, you lose a life. After you lose all 3, you have to use one of your precious credits to start the mission over, in the middle of the stage, or at the very beginning. Adding lots of enemies and huge bosses only makes the game more frustrating. Expect veins to pop out of your cranium, and a few broken controllers. Although I did have a tough time getting through the missions, I did have fun. After you figure out how to get past a situation on you millionth time. It feels very rewarding, to watch the boss you have had trouble with go up in flames. While it's all good fun, the only significant weaknesses are the difficulty issues, shallowness, and the length of the title is unacceptable.

People who didn't grow up with Nintendo carts will not appreciate the ancient gameplay of this title. First of all, it's way too shallow and not as complex as some of today's modern titles. While the secondary firing options do add a thin layer of strategy, it's not enough to keep the gameplay fresh the whole way through. If you have never played a Contra title before, you should rent it to make sure it fits your style.

The graphics this time around are breath taking. The 3D environments and character models are a welcome addition to the franchise. I notice the character movements are a little stiff, but they still look good. The sound is also topnotch. It has some metal environments that match the game's style perfectly. All around this is some great eye and ear candy. The presentation is topnotch. My hat's off to Konami.

The bottom-line is if you think you can stomach some old shooter action, welcome to the world of Contra. Veterans, of the series, this is a must-play, but you will feel slightly disappointed. Overall it's good fun, but I couldn't help feeling a little let down.

- - Grandlethal

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