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Ecks VS Sever Review - GBA

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First person shooters are a staple of the gaming industry, so it's no surprise that a couple have made their way to the Game Boy Advance, despite the obvious limitations. Ecks VS Sever shows those limitations but manages to deliver a half decent shooter, but no more. The game is supposed to be based around a movie, which I haven't heard of. Regardless, the game is based on the old Spy VS Spy formula, playing a game of cat and mouse through a dozen levels, shooting things that move, finding keys and hitting switches, all the while grabbing enough health and armour to keep you this side of dead.

Gameplay

Playing the game is pretty much the same as every other FPS that tried to make the jump to GBA. The D-Pad is used to walk backwards and forwards and turn left and right. The shoulder buttons are strafe, and holding both down will put you into a crouch. A button is shoot and B button is activate. Select changes weapons and Start pauses the game. A tried and true control method that is easily familiar.

Upon starting up your game, the GBA's 3D limitations soon show up to tear at your eyes with pixelated gore. The sprites used in game seem to be taken from badly done polygon models, to give the illusion of 3D, but always looking ugly. The levels themselves are done in 3D, and it ain't pretty. Everything in the game is made of straight lines, which is understandable, but it never looks better than passable. Textures are icky, lines are jagged, pixilation abounds; if the obvious control limitations didn't give it away, the 2D-centric GBA hardware should drive the point home. The GBA isn't a system for First Person Shooters.

The levels themselves are your standard mix of hallways and large rooms, filled with bad guys, easily identifiable by the blob of colour they appear as. Blue guys are typical grunts, brown ones FBI agents, brown and blue guys are SWAT, and so on. They're not too bright either, merely pointing and shooting when you give yourself away, and strafing around in random direction to avoid your fire. They show little intelligence, and the only way the difficulty could be increased was to give them more hit points and have them deal more damage. The objectives in the game are little more than key hunts and switch flipping. An early mission has you sniping your adversary, but it still doesn't work very well.

This is where another problem rears its head, the difficulty of the game. Each blue grunt takes two pistol shots to drop, each brown guy takes four. By the time you reach the last stretch of levels, you're fighting guys who take ten shots to take out, and who can deal 10 to 20 points of damage with each of their own shots. Throw in the fact you take them on in ... (continued next page)