Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot Review

The original Rush'N Attack was always one of my favorite Konami games from the 80s, one that could easily sit alongside many of their other classics, such as Castlevania and Contra. Not surprisingly, Konami's been pretty busy releasing updates to these and many other of their most venerated gems, and it was only a matter of time before the classic Cold War thriller joined the fun. Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot from Vatra Games tries to bring back the feeling of the classic arcade/NES game by way of recent HD recreations by mixing mixing updated visuals with a familiar 2D perspective and gameplay tweaks similar to recent updates like Bionic Command Rearmed (the first one) or Shadow Complex. Unfortunately, this is one update that doesn't begin to compare with either of those two, let along the action-packed greatness of the original.


For a game running on the Unreal Engine, the HD remastering of the game has some positives as well as negatives to add to the overall package. The game does look quite nice when zoomed out, with some pretty cool locations and as you would expect from a game boasting the Unreal Engine, explosions and finer details generally do look very nice in action. However, the sidescrolling action just doesn't look good with the background they have chosen for basically the entire story. It seems as if this has been shot in a location that is foggy 24/7 which does nothing more than distort the image a bit. It doesn't look good and it doesn't affect the game in any which way. I wish they just went for a cleaner, crisper image and did away with the 'retro flair' they have tried to keep in the game. Sure, keep it as a 2-D Side scroller, but please use the Unreal Engine to it's full potential.

The soundtrack is flat out mundane and leaves no lasting impression on the player. A good soundtrack can easily be recalled after playing the game, but when I picture Rush'N Attack all I see is a game with shocking voice acting. They are just poorly done and the cut scenes it appears in are also shocking. Zooming in to conversations or fights just doesn't do the graphics any favours. During the game you will get the stock standard grunting everytime the main character kills someone or just up onto something. Rush'N Attack just isn't a pretty game and the music and graphics are leading the way in proving the point. An overly poor presented game.


The original Rush’N Attack was a pretty simplistic game, it was essentially your basic side scroller and was trying to follow the trend of successful games of its era. Its sequel adds some layers of complexity, particularly more advanced levels and a focus on stealth. Most of the game will have you darting down hallways and exploring the nooks and crannies of the game areas. To accomplish your goals, you’ll often have to seek out switches that will eliminate roadblocks as such to reach the real level objectives. While sneaking about you’ll run into plenty of Russian guards, which you aren’t necessarily required to defeat, but it’s easier to kill them and get them out of your way.

Like the original game, you are armed only with a knife, but you can now hide in various preordained locations to eliminate guards from the shadows and avoid involvement in close quarters combat. the execution of stealth here is pointless for a number of reasons. The places where you can hide are predetermined which completely wrecks the process of stealth as the game is set around almost forcing you into these doorways or spots automatically. Stealth movements are always exactly the same, you sit in darkness and wait for a guard to approach before popping out and killing him with ease. These parts of the game do seem quite cool to start with and the combat is definitely one of the highlights out of this package. If it all put together with a complete game, there is a lot of potential for success but other areas are holding it back.

The movement of the main character as well the enemies in the game is often slow and sluggish, just missing that instant rush of silkiness that people who are jumping across huge gaps require. Being a platformer you are expected to make some pretty daring moves and you should have a character with the physical attributes to match. While it doesn't directly ruin the game, that coupled with some average controls makes parts of the game frustratingly difficult. Bosses are also in the same category as they manage to pin you in one area and kill you just a little too easy.


Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot could've been a great return to one of Konami's most underappreciated classic, but is misses the mark completely thanks to poor controls, cheap enemy AI, and visuals that actually detract from the gameplay, despite using the lauded Unreal Engine. There's also no co-op action or online multiplayer whatsoever, another unfortunate blemish considering even the original supported 2-player simultaneously. While some hardcore fans may appreciate the game's shift from pure side-scrolling action to Metroidvania-style exploring and leveling, and may even consider the lackluster combat a bonus challenge, most will probably want to get their updated retro-fix from superior reissues such as Capcom's first Bionic Commando Rearmed or Epic's own Shadow Complex.

Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 3/10
Gameplay - 5/10
Overall - 4.5/10