Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot Review
See PixlBit's Review Policies
On 05/21/2011 at 12:22 PM by Nick DiMola
Maybe making a sequel to an obscure game from the '80s wasn’t a great idea?
Rush’N Attack: Ex Patriot is the latest in a string of updates/sequels of old Arcade/NES games, some of which have been phenomenal, like Bionic Commando: Rearmed. Unfortunately for Konami, that same success isn’t manifesting in their sequel to Rush’N Attack. This is thanks in large part to some uninspired levels, finicky jump mechanics, and one-dimensional gameplay. The gameplay does occasionally give off a Metroid vibe, but it’s clear the developers didn’t know how to really capitalize on that concept, resulting in a ho-hum experience.
The original Rush’N Attack was a pretty simplistic game, one that most people wouldn’t immediately consider to be worthy of reinvigoration. 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 impediments to reaching 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. I’m often a fan of the concept of stealth gameplay - Hitman 2 and Splinter Cell are favorites of mine from that subgenre - but the execution of stealth here is pointless for a number of reasons.
For one, you can only hide in certain spots, which doesn’t make for very interesting gameplay. You’ll sit and wait and, as expected, the patrolling guard will eventually walk by and you’ll defeat him without an ounce of effort. As such, hiding is a pretty boring and thoughtless affair. Secondly, it’s much quicker, easier, and more fun to just dash up and take guards out head-on. The game provides an inordinate number of health packs, so even if you run the risk of getting hurt, you can easily heal yourself - but you’ll rarely need to once you’ve figured out how to defeat enemies.
The game seems to recognize that players won’t be using much stealth and includes combos to provide players with more complicated maneuvers to kill things. However, these are completely unnecessary, and due to the lag in button input, awkward to pull off. So for those keeping track, Rush N’ Attack doesn’t do stealth very well and action becomes repetitive quickly.
Various weapons also become available by way of defeating enemies or being found hidden in the level. These further encourage players to avoid using stealth and simply attack enemies head on. It would’ve been nice to see them used to solve puzzles in the level instead, but they are never anything more than a high-powered projectile attack.
The only attempt the developers have made to dissuade players from using brute force is to decrease the amount of points earned when defeating an enemy head-on. Head-on knife kills will net roughly half of a stealth kill and projectile kills will provide only half of that. One, the points mean nothing (think Whose Line is it Anyway?) other than a rank on the leaderboards, and two, even this is defeated by the fact that you can chain kills and have your kill score multiplied.
Things aren’t any better when players are traversing the levels. Platforming is extremely awkward thanks to the game's awful implementation of the jump mechanic. It never seems to go off when expected, which can make precision platforming deadly if you are even the least bit overzealous. Because jumping is done everywhere, players are constantly slowed down by the clunky mechanic, but thankfully only penalized for it in a select few areas.
The levels are probably the best part of the game, but the developers clearly didn’t understand what to do with them to give them real purpose. They are structured very similarly to something like Metroid, but more closely resemble the wildly popular XBLA title, Shadow Complex. This provides for level designs that are complex and maze-like in structure with small hidden passageways everywhere. Players are given night vision goggles to see some of these passageways, making them somewhat exciting to find. The big problem is that these passageways often don’t need to be explored because there’s nothing to find in them. In most instances, only the ones around an impediment need to be inspected further for buttons or switches to open up a pathway.
Regardless of the lack of reward, I found that just seeing all of the different parts of the map intrigued me the most. If the developers had simply hidden upgrades down these hallways and made the voyage worthwhile, they could’ve had an experience that truly evoked Metroid, adding a layer of complexity that would’ve been appreciated in this otherwise bland experience.
The game’s boss battles were a breath of fresh air and were clearly inspired by those in Bionic Commando: Rearmed. Though feeling a bit “me-too,” they were still fun to complete and provided for a nice diversion from the typical gameplay.
Rush’N Attack: Ex-Patriot is rife with missed opportunity and bad design. The gameplay premise isn’t inherently bad and the re-imagination of the game concept from the original title is commendable, but the resulting product is mundane and lifeless. Players are best off skipping this one and springing for one of the other games that clearly inspired this production.