Ecks V Sever
by BAM! Entertainment
A shoot 'em up is not normally a type of game that you associate with a GBA. Thinking about it most people would come to the conclusion that it simply isn't possible to be able to effectively make a FPS that could come anywhere near the experience that you could have on one of the more powerful consoles or indeed the PC. However, be prepared to be proved wrong as Ecks V Sever shows that the GBA can indeed do anything that is asked of it.
You can either play as Jonathan Ecks, an emotionally unstable Ex-FBI agent or Sever an ultra efficient NSA (National Security Agency) operative. The game has 24 levels that are split between the characters and playing as one of the characters gives you the other side of the other's mission. In other words you can play the story from either perspective. The only thing I would comment on with the missions is that your progress is not saved. After completing a mission a password is issued and when you come back to the game at a later date you must enter the password to pick up where you left off. Fortunately the passwords are simple words and not a weird arrangement of numbers, letters and symbols so they are easy to remember.
Crawfish have done a great job at bringing a FPS to the GBA. To seasoned PC shoot 'em up fans the graphics will be reminiscent of the original Wolfenstein game and indeed in terms of the control system it feels similar too. The 'A' button is used to shoot whilst the 'B' button is used primarily as an action button. The right and left shoulder buttons can be used to strafe whilst pressing them simultaneously will perform a crouch. The select key cycles the weapons and the start key is used to pause the game. Movement is controlled by the control pad and the only limitation on you is that you can't move your aim up or down. For the majority of the game this is OK but when you enter into a room and there are enemies situated on a platform above or below you it can be impossible to hit them until you are on the same level as them. Unfortunately though they can still fire at you.
Like all GBA titles Ecks V Sever uses text to relay information to the player. Slow scrolling text gives you the mission background and objectives. The mission objectives remain on screen until you press the start button to begin the level. The objectives cannot be accessed during the level though. To be honest though this is not a problem as the objectives are usually very straight forward and easy to remember.
As we alluded to earlier the game is very similar to the appearance of the original Wolfenstein game. What is especially impressive is the way in which the framerate never plummets and remains constant when the action gets hectic. The floor and ceilings are textureless but to be honest if that is the price to pay for a smooth framerate then it was worth it. Close up the enemies can look a little blurred and blocky but this never becomes a problem and on the whole the game looks good. If like me you find some GBA games to be a little dark unless you are right under a light bulb then you'll be pleased to know that a contrast option has been included and works well. You can either access this from the options menu or the pause menu whilst you are mid-mission.
Ecks V Sever will surprise you by how much it contains from a modern PC FPS. You can even use a sniper rifle with adjustable zoom. The range of weapons is also very impressive. There are nine different firearms and two different types of explosives. You can even acquire a set of thermal enhancement goggles that highlight the heat signature of enemies when you are in a dark or hazy environment. The enemy AI is not as sophisticated as in a PC FPS but to be honest it is for the most part adequate. The multiplayer side of a FPS has been included too. There are three varieties of multiplayer game, deathmatch, bomb kit (in which you have to locate three pieces of a bomb) and assassination. These games are for 2-4 players and all players must have a copy of the game. If you have friends who own a GBA and a copy of Ecks V Sever then you'll get your money's worth out of this side of the game alone.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10 Ecks V Sever is a solid FPS game that will impress you with it's choice of weapons, it's solid framerate and the similarity it shares with early PC FPS titles. The multiplayer side of the game compliments the single player game superbly and if you've got friends who own the game too then you're in for a treat.
Deaf Gamers comment: Ecks V Sever is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. Mission briefings and objectives are given in text. There is nothing in the game that would disadvantage a deaf gamer.