Special Forces: Team X Review
Release the hounds!
Special Forces: Team X is a Third-Person, cover-based multiplayer only shooter by the guys and gals at Zombie Studios, and it hit the Xbox Live Arcade and Steam marketplace this week. Now I know what you’re thinking and yes, there are too many shooters out there these days, but every now and then a new one pops up that surprises us with something new and unique. Special Forces: Team X is not one of those games, but it’s still pretty fun.
The best way that I can think of to describe Special Forces: Team X is that it looks like Borderlands, plays like Ghost Recon Future Soldier and has Call of Duty’s controls and progression system. Now if you hate all of those games then you’re probably not going to like Special Forces very much, but if you’re like me and enjoy all of those games then you’re going to want to keep reading.
Before we get into the real meat and potatoes of the game, I think it’s only fair to point out a few of the issues that I saw during my time with the game. For the most part, Special Forces runs just fine, but I did notice a few issues here and there that I think are worth mentioning. First off, and the issue that I saw the most, was some sort of weird lag, and not network lag from what I could tell. It seems like it only happens when I’m sprinting and since I love to sprint, it got annoying quick. Even after I stopped sprinting it would still be a little choppy for a minute or so and of course an enemy player would always come around the corner while I was experiencing it. I also noticed a few smaller issues like soldiers running through each other, getting stuck in walls while running backwards, getting stuck in cover (although this only happened a few times) and even a few times where my own dogs would attack me. The sprinting issue was the biggest issue that I saw and even though it didn’t happen every time, it happened enough to make me think twice before going for a run.
Like I said in the opening, Special Forces: Team X is an online only, multiplayer game, so there are no single player modes to talk about. Moving on.
There are five multiplayer modes in Special Forces: Team X: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Hot Zone, High Value Target and Control Point. There’s nothing wrong with any of them, but there’s nothing special about any of them that you haven’t seen before either. I’m just glad it’s not another one of those multiplayer only games that gives you one mode when it launches and then makes you wait for the rest. We don’t need any more of those.
Zombie Studios plays it safe when it comes to the modes, but they do mix things up nicely with the maps that you play on. Each map is divided in to three sections and there are nine different areas to pick from, giving you over 100 different map combinations to end up with. Before each match, you get to vote on which area you want in each section, which is a nice change of pace compared to having a handful of static maps like most shooters these days. Being a cover-based game, each area has plenty of objects to hide behind, but also a decent amount of rooms to enter, ledges to snipe from and enough open areas to create a variety of places to shoot people in the face.
The first thing I look for in any online shooter is the progression system, and Special Forces: Team X doesn’t disappoint. It’s mostly standard stuff like earning xp, leveling up and unlocking new weapons and gear, but I really like how Zombie designed some of the components. For example, you can equip two pieces of gear such as Grenades, Mines or Ammo and Health pickups, which you’ll get two of in each life, but you can also choose to equip Assault and Attack Dogs in this same slot, which means you also get two of them during each life as well. Dogs are awesome and I love how they aren’t some kill streak reward that you only get once per game (maybe twice if you’re really good) like in World at War, but rather you always get fresh new dogs when you spawn. To keep things balanced, the dogs disappear when you die and they can only kill one person. So it’s not just a horde of dogs all of the time.
In each of your two loadouts, you can customize your primary and secondary weapons, pick an active and passive skill and customize your soldier’s outfit. I also really like how you can pick three attachments for most of the weapons, instead of just one, like in most shooters. You get to pick a scope, a muzzle and a magazine, with new ones unlocking as you level up. It’s little things like this that help Special Forces avoid becoming just another mediocre shooter. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s different enough to make you notice.
Another thing that I like about Special Forces: Team X is that you don’t have any “Kill Streak” rewards, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fun toys to play with. Spread around the map are supply crates that will give you limited use of either a Rocket Launcher, Mini-Gun, Chainsaw or even the ability to call in an Air Strike on a specific location. This way, even if you’re having a bad game, you still have a chance to use these power weapons. Another cool thing is that you earn bonus XP for working as a team, so the more you stick together, the more points you’ll earn. Most of them time when I’m not playing with any friends I’ll wander around on my own, so this was a nice incentive to pay more attention to what the rest of my team was doing.
Special Forces: Team X may not do anything groundbreaking, but it takes things from some of the best shooters out there and puts its own spin on each of them. I’ve been having a great time with it, despite its technical issues, and if you’ve been craving a cel-shaded, cover-based, third-person shooter that’s under $20, then Special Forces: Team X is right up your alley. Plus, dogs.