Making a nice and surprising debut at E3, a preview build of Contra: Shattered Soldier has now fallen into my very own hands, and I've become addicted. After my first attempt at it, I was just a bit confused, largely because I haven't played a Contra game since god knows when. My confusion didn't get the best of me though, as I realized that if I had changed a thing or two around from my previous play effort, I'd be able to progress further and further every time and not die quarter way into the stage.
It's almost like trial and error (to a certain and never drastic extent), plus memorization combined, to form and give "re-birth" to one of the coolest Playstation 2 games around. Tons of explosions, tons of eye-candy, tons of scrap metal and debris scattered all over the place, after you blow a 40 foot mech to hell with your guns -- which initially, you have a selection of 3 that you can switch around by pressing L1). You can use either the analog or digital pad for maneuverability, and aiming as to where you want to shoot. You have 8 different directions you can shoot at, so if you have an opponent over your head, or below your feet, you won't have the slightest problem taking him out. As Bill Riser and/or Lucia, you can also scale walls when required to, and you can still use your gun to shoot whatever opponents that may appear.
Something I want to mention, is the 2-player co-op mode. I had a pal come over, and we played Contra: SS for a good 2 hours together in co-op. The sheer fun and enjoyment one receives with the game is astounding as it is exhilarating. Co-op modes are something generally lacking in titles that have potential use for them, but Contra does NOT disappoint. It's arguably the best aspect in the game.
Visually, the game may be simplistic, but when it comes down to those mini-boss/boss fights, it sure as hell ain't no slouch, kids. The bosses are huge, and are made up tons of polygons, and the only thing better then seeing them up close, is see them explode. There's, of course, tons of eye-candy in the game. The most notable of all being the huge explosions which feed the eye with tons of sweet, sweet sugar.
Seeing as how the original Contra team is behind Contra: SS, I popped in my build with very high expectations, and obviously I've come away a happy (and addicted) man. At the moment, Contra: SS is scheduled for a November release. By the looks of things, Contra fans will surely not be disappointed. Now if you excuse me, I have an urge to go back, shoot and blow up more stuff.
7/19/2002 Arnold Katayev