Elite Forces: Unit 77 Review: New Strategic Action… Emphasis On The “New”
It’s a great thing when a new developer hits the gaming scene, but new games by those developers can sometimes be hard to judge. You aren’t always afforded the ability to look at the developer’s depth of work to really understand where they were coming from, or where they were going with their new creations. For example, “Elite Forces: Unit 77″’s developer Abylight, only has a handful of games listed on their website - most of which were targeted at the European market. Luckly the games co-publishers have a good amount of games under their respective belts; including Gammick’s “Animal Boxing,” and “Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ” (a game where Red Riding Hood decides to roast hordes of the four-legged undead on the barbie) and Deep Sliver’s “Gothic” series, “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.,” “The Guild.” Gammick and Abylight are located in Barcelona, Spain, and have joined up with German co-publisher Deep Silver, and to create an all new property in “Elite Forces,” and while it is wonderful to see other countries getting involved in the industry besides the U.S, Canada, the U.K., and Japan, the question remains: how can a new, international company create game that appeals to a broad audience? By going back to a “timeless” precedent; modern squad-based war.
“Elite Forces: Unit 77″ takes cues from the growing national threat of kidnapping led by a man of Islamic descent, and it comes down to four agents to take it out. The loosely-formed plot is told to players by cardboard cutout newscasters (with their outlines still visible) and comes complete with a prominent pop star. A badass three-man, one-woman team trained for covert-ops, each of which brings a specific skills to bring to the table are on the case, and they’re ready to take some names. I mean, Dag Hammer (and yes, that is his name), carries two rocket launchers over his shoulders and supposedly has great accuracy… badass right? Anyway, Dag fires missiles to destroy vehicles, Kendra (the lady) is the team’s sniper, T.K drives and removes mines, and Bill - my personal favorite, since I feel the developers removed a great deal of potential here - uses electronic devices to open doors. Everyone packs a M4 except for Kendra, who’s left with a pistol at her side, which manages to do the same amount of damage to the nameless enemy soldiers. Also, as an added bonus, T.K and Bill pack grenades, which are, unfortunately, too slow to be that effective.
Each character’s shortcomings are okay though; since a simple stylus tap of the touch screen causes attacks to be carried out against mines, bald terrorists wielding machine guns, and copters, as well as destroying various modes of transport. On a related note, the vehicles would actually be fairly good if they had guns on them from the start. No, they just let you move slightly faster and let you make pasty enemy roadkill. Not that I’m complaining, but it would be nice to clear dudes with grenades that aren’t directly in front of you out of the way as well, I mean, generally most armored transports have guns on them.
As the levels progress, the traps become more plentiful and the supplies more scarce, alongside the fact that you start getting shot at with tanks. Conserving special ammo becomes a necessity for rare situations, and the odd functional uses, like sniper dueling and rockets for vehicles. The game also comes with a quick-play option that recycles the levels as you complete them, so your fast-paced strategy can continue well after the campaign ends. That’s all well and good, but I don’t much care for the mad cutscene visuals or the music, which completely removes any form of immersion by playing these somber tones without any real sense of urgency. It’s like background music in an elevator, while gunfire shoots off in the distance; it’s jarring and it loses a great deal of atmosphere and interest.
Abylight can clearly make a game that’s fun to play, but it needs to get through these initial stages quickly. “Elite Forces” looks and sounds like a unpolished game in the visual aspect, when it remains quite clear that gameplay is something to look forward too. Balance that out, and it’s a good start.
“Elite Forces: Unit 77″ was developed by Abylight and co-published by Gammick and Deep Silver exclusively for the Nintendo DS.