Game Over Online ~ Rush`N Attack: Ex-Patriot

GameOver Game Reviews - Rush`N Attack: Ex-Patriot (c) Konami, Reviewed by - Thomas Wilde

Game & Publisher Rush`N Attack: Ex-Patriot (c) Konami
System Requirements Xbox 360
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Monday, May 16th, 2011 at 01:36 PM

Divider Left By: Thomas Wilde Divider Right

The original Rush'N Attack was so goddamn eighties it shipped inside a legwarmer. You played a nameless military operative who was attacking some ill-defined enemy base, presumably full of Communists, but who was sufficiently convinced of his own all-American indomitability that he didn't think to pack a rifle. Instead, you stabbed just about everything to death with a knife, occasionally and very temporarily upgrading to grenades, a rocket launcher, or a bazooka, because the American way is to either handicap yourself or engage in serious overkill.

Like half the other games in the eighties, you were rescuing somebody from the barely-camouflaged hordes of the enemy, thus winning the Cold War through the one-man application of violence, and like most of the other games in the eighties, it was American exceptionalism being sold to us by a Japanese corporation. Rush'n Attack wasn't a bad game, exactly; it was just horrifyingly difficult in an artificial way, and fades into the background compared to the rest of Konami's NES lineup.

Twenty-six years later, it is once again considered okay to murder Russians en masse (apparently Modern Warfare made it look like so much fun that Russians were put back onto the industry-wide "Acceptable Targets" hot list), so we get Ex-Patriot, which is ostensibly a sequel to the original game, but the original game had no story to follow up on, so instead, it borrows the original game's central identifying theme: stabbing people to death.

You play as Morrow, a sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces who's sent to retrieve Rory Gibson, a CIA operative who got abandoned in Russia fifteen years ago when the Cold War ended. Your commanding officer has just finished telling you how bad of an idea it would be to get captured when you get captured.

One of the other prisoners breaks you out and arms you with a knife. After the 1906 Tunguska event, Russian scientists have been working with a previously-undiscovered element called Ulysseum, and of course, they're using it in super-soldier experiments, because that is what you do in video games now. Morrow's job immediately shifts from recovering Gibson to rescuing his team before they're used as test subjects.

Ex-Patriot is a "Metroid-vania" game, but it's a strangely relentless one. You're rewarded at the end of the level based on the speed with which you cleared it, among other things, and while stealth kills give you more points, points only matter in that they gradually unlock slightly longer and more impressive combos. In practice, you seem to be meant to play the game tearing hell-for-leather through it, dropping each successive enemy as quickly and violently as possible, whether that means stealth kills, rushing into a combo, or simply shooting them in the face with a rocket launcher. You can creep through each stage assassinating everyone you see, which turns the game into a strangely faithful adaptation of a Friday the 13th movie, but the emphasis is very much on speed.

This actually isn't bad. The platforming is intuitive and flexible, and anyone who's ever played Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night will be on familiar ground almost immediately. Individual enemies pose enough of a threat that you'll do better to avoid combat entirely whenever possible, usually with gunfire or stealth kills, and that provides a useful element of risk that keeps the action from being repetitive.

The two big problems are that Ex-Patriot is occasionally glitchy, and that its platforming doesn't quite support some of the action.

The latter point requires a bit more explanation. Morrow doesn't jump; he throws himself bodily into space, arms flailing, legs spread. When you're moving across gaps and from ledge to ledge, this is fine, and there are very few jumps he actually can't make. The issue comes when you're trying to jump between crates or something else like that, and Morrow's enthusiasm really makes it harder than it has to be. There's a platforming sequence in the middle of the first level that's harder than anything else in the game just because of that.

The former point's simple. There's a bug in the first stage where you can be put in an unwinnable position. Dying returns you, for some reason, to the start of the game, and while none of the enemies or items respawn, you'll be stuck on the wrong side of an elevator with no way to call it back down. This is apparently an astonishingly common bug, and it's bizarre that it hasn't been patched yet at the time of this writing.

Rush'N Attack: Ex-Patriot is pretty short and sits on a weird transition point between a side-scroller and an exploration-based adventure game. It takes a little bit of getting used to, since some of the stealth elements are counterproductive (i.e. if you whistle to lure an enemy over to your hiding place, it also alerts them to your presence, thus ensuring your discovery). It's not a bad use of ten bucks, as it gives you a pretty decent weekend's worth of entertainment.


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