RUN'N'GUN LOVERS: TO ARMS!
When Saurus releases Shock Troopers for the Neo Geo MVS in 1997, it's for many observers a
pretty serious competitor to the sublime SNK's Metal Slug, published the previous
year. And frankly speaking, the title is not to be taken lightly: eight selectable characters, a plethora of different weapons, several possible routes, a magnificent realization in every
way... not to mention the taking and perfectly tuned gameplay, declining the genre à la sauce Commando/Mercs, that is to say, using a three-quarter view from above making use of a vertical
scrolling, sometimes multi-directional. This title that has the caliber of a mega-hit is pure bliss for lovers of Run'n'Gun. With its additional 150 megabits, this impressive "2nd Squad"
chooses to fully settle with his elder. The graphics are using the "computer graphic" style, with quite realistic colors, a soundtrack betting everything on techno style, an incredibly
punchy animation with an even more intense action, sometimes giving into excess...
Excess yes, but not on the variety of characters and weapons! The arsenal is much less extensive than in ST1 and there are only four different warriors, instead of eight: it's a shame! In
compensation, it is now possible to use vehicles during the action. And this feature is far from offering the pleasure packed in a Metal Slug on this aspect, as this part of
the action was quite poorly made. Tanks and other turrets are way too vulnerable to enemy fire, because of their size, their slowness, and the relative weakness of their weapons. So,
these ones are much less efficient than yourself simply on your feet, that is to say! Interaction with vehicles is too sloppy to create any interest, so much that in the end, you don't
even use them. On the other hand, the characters are not balanced and Lulu with his "3-way" shot is clearly more powerful than the others, with which the difficulty seems much
higher. In sum, the new ST2 offers a few new things but Saurus did not bother to properly work these, leaving some gaping flaws taint action.
These few disgraceful details are still not enough to ruin the fun either, rest assured. But we soon realize that 2 does not pack all the fun and pleasure we found in the first episode, far
from it. Here it's about intense action all the way, even a little too messy at times, so much you barely see what's happening. Boss use simple patterns but the action is more difficult
during the levels, with too many enemies at the same time and deadly passages here and there. Animation suffers considerably from this, with a substantial amount of slowdowns, flashes
and other bugs. However, it should be said that the character animations are pretty smooth and rich of details, we are granted some nice zooms and other effects worthy of the Neo
Geo. CG graphics have us regret a little the first game's beautiful pixel art, which offered more convincing reliefs and more colors. On the other hand, music and sound effects fit
well the action: it's powerful and straight-forward, with heavy techno themes, some good voices and effects recalling Blazing Star... in relative terms.
The scoring system will appeal to the hardcore arcade players with letters to collect, bonuses to accumulate, and some other interesting things. Despite its few flaws - which could have been
easily corrected with a little more work from the programmers, ST2 still features good fun provided you love smashing on the stick's buttons, which are used as follows: A to shoot - and
the ability to increase the shot's power by depressing, B to launch bombs, and C to jump, a move which replaces the roll/dodge that was used in the 1, which
shows pretty less intuitive. With a high difficulty and a few selectable routes here and there, this soft will keep you going for dozens of games, no doubt about it.
More likely with the cooperative play, as the lack of technical aspect for the gameplay and the little room for improvement will prevent from playing alone too much. Shock Troopers 2nd
Squad reminds us, like Rocky II, Rambo II or the new Total Recall, that the sequels do not necessarily do better than the original!
|The "computer graphics" style is not particularly successful. The quality is unequal from a level to another, with too many messy screens.|
|Animation is rich with steps, but there are way too many slowdowns and flashes that spoil the table.|
|Some musics in ST2 are really taking! The electro soundtrack provides a funny, punchy style to the game. The effects and voices are doing good too.|
|Way less different routes than in the first game, as well as for the characters, but the difficulty is a little higher.|
|It's all about smashing the stick and the buttons, let's say far less technical to play than the first Shock Troopers. Anyway, the game is still very fun, especially for two players.|
Saurus took the risk to do something very different than the first episode. Bet lost, unfortunately... However,
ST2 is still a good game.