Strike Force Heroes
It was just supposed to be another mission. Just another rebel force in another of the dozens of country you team has been sent to. That was before the explosion. Before the plane crash. Before some your squadmates started acting strange. Maybe the facility over there will have some answers. Of course, even if you find those answers, you'll still have to worry about getting out alive... Strike Force Heroes, by Sky9 Games, is an action arena shooter that proves that the best way to unravel a shadowy conspiracy is by blasting everything in sight
Your soldier moves and jumps with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, and aims and shoots with the mouse. You equip your two weapons prior to each level, switching between them with [shift]. You can choose before four different classes, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and special weapons: Medic, Commando, Assassin, and Tank. Successful enemy kills with a class will gain experience and cash, unlocking new weapons and abilities for purchase. In particular, there are "kill-streak" abilities, activated with [ctrl] or [E], after killing a sequence of enemies without dying. Ammo and Health Packs are scattered around the various levels, to replenish your stocks. Each level has various win conditions, be it a certain number of individual or team kills, holding specified points for a certain period of time, capturing the enemies flag, or working as a team to face off against a single juggernaut of an enemy. Good luck, soldier!
Analysis: Juice-Tin, part of the Sky9 team, was co-creator of the Raze series. It is no surprise, then, that Strike Force Heroes plays a lot like them. Indeed, a fair description would be "Raze... NOT IN SPACE". That's a good thing for fans of the genre though. It keeps the frenetic action and streamlined gameplay, while at the same time, addressing how generic its predecessor felt at times. Most notably, by keeping things on Earth, there an appreciably larger variety of arenas to fight in. Even if, in most cases, it's a matter of aesthetic differences and platform placement, it's still much more enjoyable to have a choice of battling in a jungle village, a disintegrating aircraft, or a secret underwater lab, than a choice between a bio-mechanical alien landscape, a bio-mechanical alien landscape in a canyon, and a bio-mechanical alien landscape with a little ice on it. The aesthetic is sleek, even a little cartoony, but that serves well to keep characters and locales distinguishable. Also worthy of mention is the soundtrack, largely consisting of riffs and remixes on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home". While it sometimes comes out a little tinny, the choice of music does much to enhance the militaristic flavor, while allowing natural musical transitions from level to level, and style to style.
Of course, with all attempts at innovation come a few missteps. The ability to change to a different kind of soldier, with its own choice of equippable weaponry unlocked as you play, works well as a mechanic. Yeah, it gets a little odd in story mode when your named Medic comes back to life as a Commando. Still, it's a fair price to pay for sidestepping the "whatever player gets to the best weapons first, wins!" problem that has plagued death-matches since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, the different classes don't feel quite balanced yet, which means, when it comes to XP gains, some classes may get left behind. (Then again, it may just that this review was never meant to be a Tank.) Also, speaking of balance, the difficulty in campaign mode takes quite a leap near the end, which may leave player grinding earlier levels for quite a bit. Finally, the lack of online multiplayer is a shame, though at least the programming is smart enough to ensure your AI teammates don't spend their time firing into walls. Much.
The best part of Strike Force Heroes is its wealth of content and options. 65+ weapons, a hefty story campaign and challenge mode, a host of achievements and unlockables, and an impressively customizable quickplay mode combine to make a game that all fans of arena shooters will find engaging. Pwning CPU newbs has never been so satisfying.